Dan Dan Mien

We are a little bit obsessed with noodle dishes these days and I have been scouring the internet and my cookbooks for new recipes to try out. I have found quite a few that seem intriguing and I will be trying them in the upcoming weeks.  Attempting wanton mee is probably top on my “noodles to make list”.  Wanton mee consists of thin eggy noodles in a delicious, dark sauce with barbequed pork (I may use shredded chicken instead), home-made dumplings, Chinese greens with some spicy chilli paste (sambal) and sliced pickled green chillies.

The dan dan mein below went over well at our house and made a good leftover school lunch (packed in a thermos).  Literally translated “dan dan mein” translates into “peddler’s noodles”.  It is a classic dish from Sichuan in China and usually consists of a spicy sauce with minced pork and scallions over noodles.  I reduced/omitted some of the spicy elements to make it kid-friendly.  The recipe below uses tahini (sesame paste), but peanut butter (a bit Americanized) works as well.  Instead of pork, which my husband is not fond of, I used minced chicken.

I also made a triple batch of the noodle sauce – one for right away, one for keeping for another meal and one for Stacie for her family dinner.  Making an extra batch of a sauce or a marinade and giving some to a busy friend in a jar, along with a recipe is a wonderful way to help someone get through the daily grind of figuring out what to feed the family.  It’s something I hope to do more of in this New Year and hopefully, some good sauces/marinades will come back our way. :)

Dan Dan Mein – adapted from Bon Appetit

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces Shanghai-style noodles (cu mian) or udon (I used thin spaghetti)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 12 ounces ground pork (used chicken)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger

For Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons (or less) chili oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns (omitted – if not making for kids you should include this)
  • Pinch of sugar

Garnish:

  • 2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
Note: Shanghai-style noodles, udon, and chili oil can be found at better supermarkets and at Asian markets. Sichuan peppercorns are available at some specialty foods stores and at Asian markets. Tahini is available at better supermarkets and at Middle Eastern markets.
Method
  1. Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water until just tender but still firm to the bite. Drain; transfer to a large bowl of ice water and let stand until cold. Drain well and divide between 2 bowls.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add pork, season with salt and pepper, and stir, breaking up pork with a spoon, until halfway cooked, about 2 minutes. Add ginger; cook until pork is cooked through and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in chicken stock and next 6 ingredients; simmer until sauce thickens, about 7 minutes. Pour pork mixture over noodles; garnish with peanuts and scallions.