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 traditional 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. Peanuts topping becomes a more popular option in recent days. Just roughly crushed.
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, only packaged bags are available in most of the market. Packed Ya cai tastes a little bit over salty to many because it is usually used as seasonings other than side ingredients. For example, in this Dan Dan noodles, after mixing with the noodle, the salty flavor will be reduced greatly. If you need to watch salt intake, you can soak the pickled vegetable in cold water for 10 minutes and then strain before using.
Sichuan red oil (四川红油) makes the noodle spicy and slightly numbing. Even if you cannot handle spicy food, at least ½ 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.
- The noodle is not over overwhelming hot. So don't add too much oil, otherwise the combined flour will be completely covered by hotness.
- If you need to watch salt intake, you can soak the pickled vegetable (Ya Cai) in cold water for 10 minutes and then strain before using.
- 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 when the noodles are still hot and the pork topping are crispy.
- The noodle should be slightly soupy before mixing but gets a lo mein texture after mixing.
- I make a larger batch of topping this time, which can be further serving 9 bowls of dan dan noodles. You can save the leftover and use it for later noodles, soups or fried rice (Dan dan fried rice is fabulous).
Mix all the seasonings for each serving in noodles bowls. Then mix well and let the sauce combine together.
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, chopped scallion and toasted peanuts. Pour around ½ cup hot pork stock or chicken stock along with the edges. Mix well before eating.
Other Sichuan recipes on the blog
- 3 servings fresh noodles , around 200g
- chopped scallion
- blanched vegetables
- Chicken stock or pork stock
- toasted peanuts , roughly crushed
- 400 g minced pork ,with some fat
- 2 tbsp. cooking oil
- 1 tsp. Sichuan peppercorn
- 1 star anise
- ½ tbsp. minced garlic
- ½ tbsp. Shaoxing cooking wine
- ½ tsp. sugar
- 1 cup ya-cai
- 1 tbsp. low sodium light soy sauce
Mixed Seasonings for each serving
- 1 tsp. sesame paste
- 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 tbsp. chili oil
- 1 tsp. black vinegar
- chopped scallion
- ¼ tsp. Sichuan peppercorn powder
Make the pork topping
- Heat oil in wok and then fry star anise and Sichuan peppercorn with slowest fire until aromatic. Then remove the spices.
- Add minced pork and fry for several minutes until slightly browned. Drizzle cooking wine around the edges. Then place sugar and light soy sauce in.
- Add Ya cai in, continue frying for 3-5 minutes until dry and golden brown.
Cook noodles and serve
- Mix all the seasonings in serving bowls. Combine well.