Dan Dan Noodles

Dan Dan Noodles

This Sichuan dish comprises yellow egg noodles tossed in a red
chilli, Sichuan pepper and sesame sauce, topped with minced
pork (or beef) fried with aromatics, and finished with peanuts.

Origins
In Chinese days of yore, street vendors carried their kitchens in baskets hanging on dan dan – bamboo poles slung across their shoulders. At the request of hungry passers-by, this could be unharnessed and used to prepare a fast-food noodle feast. The unique spicy-nutty noodle concoction soon became known as dan dan noodles, which translates as ‘peddler’s noodles’.

You’ll need
300g (11oz) fresh egg noodles
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
5cm (2in) piece of fresh
ginger, peeled
3 spring onions (scallions),
white and green parts
2 tbs peanut oil
200g (7oz) minced fatty pork
(or beef)
1 tbs Shaoxing Chinese rice
wine
Salt
Handful of dry-roasted
peanuts, roughly chopped

Sauce
3 tsp water
2 tbs light soy sauce
3 tbs tahini or sesame paste
1 tbs Chinese black rice
vinegar
2–3 tbs chilli oil (adjust for
chilli hit)
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp ground Sichuan pepper

Cooking Method
1 Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil.
2 Cook the noodles for 3–5 minutes until al dente.
3 Rinse under cold water, then drain and tip into a serving dish.
4 In a small bowl, whisk together all the sauce ingredients.
5 Pour the sauce over the noodles and toss. Set aside.
6 In a mortar, pound the garlic, ginger and two of the spring onions.
7 Heat the oil in a frying pan over mediumhigh heat. Add the garlic, ginger and spring onion paste and fry briefly until fragrant. Addthe meat and stir-fry until it is no longer pink and the pan gets sticky.
8 Deglaze with rice wine and season with salt.
9 Spoon the cooked meat mixture over the noodles, sprinkle with remaining chopped spring onion and the peanuts. Serve straight away.

Tasting notes
Sichuan restaurants are sweat-inducing places packed with punters and bubbling bowls of chilli concoctions. Take a deep breath. Locals like to see a foreigner reeling after a mouthful of their native food, in which case dan dan noodles is a good option. Its mid-range spiciness is right on the money, with the different textures of noodles, meat and stauce contributing to varying levels of heat. The punch to watch for is the Sichuan pepper. It creeps up on the palate like a tourist to a panda, creating a tingling or anaesthetised ma-la sensation, which is as addictive as the chilli hit. Seeing red? Water won’t help – the only answer is to keep slurping.

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