A classic Chinese noodle dish. Down-to-earth and super tasty. Make Dan Dan noodles in 20 minutes and enjoy this street food wonder.
I received a message the other day from my friend Juliane in Switzerland. “I dream of making these noodles. Do you know how to cook it?” She sent me a blurred snapshot taken from a magazine. It was a bowl of noodles in chilli oil soup, with a bit of preserved vegetable and a few strips of fresh green leaves. Considering that Juliane worked in Sichuan province, China, I guess it’s one of the local signature dishes that she might have had before: the unbeatable street food Dan Dan noodles (担担面).
Dan Dan, in Sichuan dialect, refers to the shoulder pole traditionally used for transporting goods. Originally, local noodle vendors walked around the streets, using shoulder poles to carry food and equipment such as a stove at one end and noodles, sauce, bowls, chopsticks and a washing-up bucket etc. at the other. Gradually, consumers started calling this snack “Dan Dan Noodles”.
From its humble street food background, Dan Dan noodles is now a classic Chinese noodle dish adored by many, including foodies outside China. It’s down-to-earth, affordable and super tasty. Most of all, it’s quite simple to make.
- Fry the peanuts then the minced meat
- Mix the sauce
- Cook the noodles
- Assemble and enjoy
Don’t let the length of the ingredient list scare you. They are what make this dish a wonder. It might take you some time to find all of them, but for a great finished taste, every bit of ingredient contributes. Nutty flavour comes from fried peanuts (some versions use soy beans instead). Preserved Sichuan pickle provides rich saltiness. Chinese sesame paste is a must. Its powerful fragrant, along with Mala flavour (spicy and numbing) created by the chilli oil and Sichuan peppercorn, is the soul of Dan Dan noodles. I highly recommend you to use homemade chilli oil and to grind toasted Sichuan peppercorn yourself. They do make a difference.
A final tip: you can make the sauce in advance or in bulk. It can be stored in the fridge up to a week. Just remember to leave out garlic and toasted sesame seeds. Add them prior to serving.
I’m kind of a noodle fanatic. Dan Dan noodles is always on my top three list. Hope it’s your cup of tea too. By the way, I’m organising a Culinary Tour of China which includes Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, the home of Dan Dan noodles and many other scrumptious Sichuan dishes. Check it out if you are interested!
Have a yummy day!
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