Famous Szechuan style Dan dan noodles (担担面) is one of the most popular Chinese street foods. To me, it is one of the top Chinese noodles. But it is quite hard to define an authentic dan dan noodles. In Sichuan, it is crispy, spicy and numbing (caused by Sichuan peppercorns), with lots of variations in different restaurants. However, in other Sichuan restaurants outside this area, it might be crispy, slightly spicy and sweet. So I am not brave enough to call this an authentic dan dan noodle recipe, but it is the easiest way to put together a yummy and satisfying dan dan noodles.
History of Dan Dan Noodles
Dandan in the name actually refers to a carrying pole(扁担 in Chinese ). In the past, the vendors carried the noodles and the sauces to sell them on the street. When you order one bowl of dan dan noodles, the vender mix the noodle with the pre-pared sauce and top with the pork topping. With this traditioinal method, the authentic dan dan noodle cannot be soupy.
Important ingredients for dan dan noodles
With the traditional method, we serve dan dan noodles with fried soy beans or peas. They present the highest level of crispness. Usually we fry a larger batch each time. You can simply mix the remaining with salt and sugar, serving just as a snack. If you do not want to brother for frying, when you use crushed toast peanuts.
Ya-cai(芽菜) is one of the three most important and famous preserved vegetables in Sichuan cuisine. The other two are pickled zha cai and black salted turnip. Making different types of pickled and preserved vegetables is one of the daily cooking tasks of housewives in Sichuan province. Traditionally, we will have a large jar for keeping this unique ingredient. However, we use packaged version for daily cooking now.
Sichuan red oil (四川红油) makes the noodle spicy and slightly numbing. Even if you cannot handle spicy food, at least 1/2 tablespoon of Sichuan red oil should be used in the mixed seasoning to compete the flavor. By the way, the red oil should be prepared at least 24 hours ago, so the capsaicin and red color can be well mixed with the oil.
How to serve dan dan noodles?
Please do not use large raman noodle bowls to serve dan dan noodles. Choose smaller ones and serve with a small amount of soup base (chicken stock or pork stock), so the noodles can be eaten up within minutes. Enjoy when it is still hot and the pork is still crisp.
It should be slightly soupy before mixing.
And like a lo mien after mixing.
Dan Dan Noodles for two people
- 2 serving fresh egg noodles
- chopped scallion
- blanched vegetables
- Chicken stock or pork stock
- 1/2 cup soy beans
- cooking oil for frying
- 1 cup minced pork ,with some fat
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. white pepper
- 1/2 tbsp. light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. cooking oil ,divided
- 1/2 tbsp. minced ginger
- 1/2 tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 tsp. dark soy sauce
- 1 cup ya-cai
- 1/2 tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tbsp. sesame paste
- 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 tbsp. chili oil
- 1 tsp. black vinegar
- a really small pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. minced garlic
Pre-soak dried soybeans until they are double in size. Transfer out and drain with kitchen towel.
Add 3 tablespoon cooking oil in wok and add soaked soybeans to fry until you hear the “Pa Pa” sound. Transfer the soybeans out and set aside to cool down
Mix the minced pork with a small pinch of salt, white pepper and 1/2 tablespoon of light soy sauce.
Heat up around 1 tablespoon of cooking oil in wok, fry garlic and ginger until aromatic and then fry minced pork until crisp. Then add 1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce for better coloring, Move the pork to the out round of the wok, add another 1 tablespoon of oil in the bottom add ya-cai, separate ya-cai quickly and mix them with the pork. Add around chili powder (optional) and mix well. Transfer out and we are done with the pork topping.
Mix all the seasonings for serving and divide into two portions, separately in two serving bowls. Pour around 1/2 cup of hot pork stock.
Cook noodles in boiling water according to the instructions on the package and blanch vegetables in the last minutes when the noodles are almost ready. Transfer the noodles to the serving bowl.
Top with pork topping and then pour around 1/2 cup hot pork stock or chicken stock along with the edges.
Add green beans and fried soy beans. Serve immediately!
If you want a real Sichuan version, you can sprinkle some fresh grounded Sichuan peppercorn.
You can skip the chili powder and add 1 teaspoon of Chinese five spice powder to milden your topping.