Main Dish

Dan Dan Noodles

Okay, so if I haven’t already said million times that I love Chinese food, let me say it in this post to remove any remaining doubt. “I love chinese food- 999999X.” We have a favorite Sichuan restaurant that serves amazing vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles. I love it to the point that I am inclined to lick the bowl clean, in a restaurant where even children aren’t trying to do such a thing.

But I had no clue how to make this dish. None. Zilch. I mean, yeah I knew I could use egg noodles but that’s it. How do I bring that spicy Sichuan flavor? What do I toss noodles with to bring out the best taste? How do I prepare my tofu? So many questions and of course that meant I got exploring recipes. I have to tell ya, I haven’t seen such variation in recipe before. There are few recipes but they vary widely.. Because of this and also because I couldn’t tell which recipe would bring that exact taste of noodles at my favorite restaurant, I settled on a recipe where I had most ingredients on hand instead.

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The result was purely stunning! Oil and peppercorns rule this recipe but every bit of it is well worth. Brilliant flavors bursting in your mouth with every bite, while making your neck warm! Hot and spicy has a new name- Dan Dan Noodles.. Minced tofu had a great taste with soy, garlic and peppercorn flavor. Spring onions provide perfect balance of texture as well as taste and a brilliant color for garnish. We added a side of hot edamame to complete the meal.

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The thing that surprised me the most was how quick this was. The whole preparation, from chopping to garnish didn’t take more than 35 minutes. My weekday dinner ideas just got a new item. I was just so happy at the outcome of it overall. Brilliant and quick food is all I ask for and that’s what you get here. Which is highly desirable since weekday nights are supposed to be quick meal and Doctor Who episodes with my husband. Spicy food and time travel go together till the end of universe, let me add that as a footnote too, in case you were wondering!

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One major thing I changed here was amount of soup. Most recipes seem to call for considerable amount of broth, but my favorite restaurant doesn’t serve soupy Dan Dan Noodles, so soupy noodles were not going to show up on our dinner table, however non-authentic that may be. Another variation was that I used traditional egg noodles and not udon. There were few other minor variations from Ching’s recipe too, but for the large part I have followed her directions and substituted meat for tofu. A truly amazing dish which made me want to lick the bowl clean. The taste was not identical to my restaurant version though. I have an excuse to go to my favorite restaurant again now and order it to figure out flavors more carefully. And oh, also this time to really lick the bowl clean!

Your Map to Dan Dan Noodles

Author: Ching-He Huang’s recipe (above), made vegetarian with some other changes by Minty Chai

Serves: 3-4

Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  1. 2/3 pound chinese egg noodles
  2. 1 teaspoon sesame chili oil
  3. sea salt to taste
  1. 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  2. 3 dried red chilies, finely chopped
  3. 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  4. 8 oz organic tofu
  5. 2 tablespoon sesame chili oil
  6. 1/2 cup ground roasted peanuts
  7. 1 tablespoon organic soy sauce
  8. 1 tablespoon table red wine (that’s what I had)
  9. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  10. 1 teaspoon sichuan peppercorns, fresh ground
  1. 3 tablespoon sesame chili oil
  2. 3 tablespoon organic soy sauce
  3. 1 tablespoon sichuan peppercorns, fresh ground
  4. 2 dried red chilies, finely chopped
  5. 3 scallions, finely chopped
  6. 2 cups vegetable stock, very hot

Instructions

  1. Bring water to boil a large pot and cook the noodles. Add salt in as it is cooking. Remove from heat in about 5 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well and toss with sesame oil to coat them evenly. Set aside in bowls ready to serve.
  2. Heat a wok on high heat and add oil. Add ginger, chilies and garlic and stir-fry for half a minute to a minute. Add tofu and cook for a couple more minutes, till it browns. Add in peanuts, soy sauce, wine and peppercorns. Cook another 2-3 minutes and remove from heat. Serve on top of noodles in each bowl.
  3. Mix sesame chili oil, soy, chilies and peppercorns along with scallions in a separate bowl.
  4. Pour some of the hot stock over tofu and noodles in each bowl, depending on how soupy you want the consistency.
  5. Top each bowl with scallion mixture prepared in step 3 and your Dan Dan Noodles are ready to be enjoyed!
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