This post was made possible thanks to MAGGI 2minute Wholegrain Noodles – Made with the goodness of wholegrain and are 99% fat free. They are available at all supermarkets.
Dan Dan. Fun to say. Fun to eat.
Dan Dan Noodles are a common street food from China’s Sichuan Province which is also responsible for Kung Pao Chicken and Mapo Tofu. If you know these dishes, you’ll know the fiery, punchy flavour profile of the region.
Dan Dan Noodles are egg or wheat noodles served with a meat topping, preserved or pickled vegetables, peanuts or sesame seeds, a sweet sesame soy sauce or soup and of course, Sichuan pepper.
Served from street food peddlers, these noodles are an inexpensive, filling meal with lots of flavour. Spice level varies, but this is more about the satisfying tingle of Sichuan Pepper than the burn of chilli. There are many variations on this dish but those are the key elements.
For the sake of research, I’ve eaten a few bowls of Dan Dan Noodles to get a feel for range (I call it “noodles for science”). Some noodles were “knock-your-socks-off” spicy and others were very VERY tame. Some noodles were dry with a little sauce and others swimming in spicy broth. I’ve drawn inspiration from different recipes to create this soup-less version with loads of flavour and medium heat.
These noodles are made with MAGGI 2minute Wholegrain Noodles which are a great base for noodle dishes. Traditionally, Dan Dan Noodles are topped with a spoonful of meat but I’ve doubled the meat and added more vegetables because that’s how I roll. Unlike street food vendors, I don’t need to skimp on meat to keep costs down. If you like meat, you’ll enjoy this boost, though a hundred grams of meat per person is hardly a meat fest.
Chinese preserved vegetables made with Chinese mustard plants are usually served with Dan Dan Noodles. These can be an acquired taste so I’ve replaced these with a sweet and sour quick pickle which can be made ahead and stored.
This recipe makes 2 serves but can easily be doubled or tripled to serve more. If making extra serves, cook the mince in batches so not to overcrowd, otherwise the mince will stew rather than fry and will not go crispy at the edges.
Chinese sesame paste is made from toasted sesame seeds. This gives it a deeper flavour than tahini or peanut butter. If you have those already or can’t find Chinese sesame paste, they will work as a substitute. Add a couple drops of sesame oil for extra sesame depth.
Sichuan pepper is unlike black or white pepper (they are not related). Beautifully fragrant, Sichuan pepper gives an addictive mouth-numbing tingle. The fragrance is unlike any spice or herb that I have come across in other cuisines. Both pungent and floral, a little goes a long way. I’ve used 1 teaspoon of whole smashed Sichuan pepper in this recipe. Find it at Asian grocers or your local bulk food shop.
Dan Dan Noodles
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste (or peanut butter or tahini with a few drops of sesame oil)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chilli oil (depending on your heat preference)
- 1 tablespoon Chinkiang (black) vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
Combine all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and mix with fork or whisk until smooth. Set aside until required.
- 1 teaspoon whole Sichuan pepper
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 200 grams beef or lamb mince
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 packets MAGGI 2minute Wholegrain noodles
- 2 big handfuls baby spinach
- 1/4 cup roasted chopped peanuts
- 2 tablespoons sweet quick pickles (see recipe below)
- Sesame seeds
- Spring onion, sliced
- Smash the Sichuan pepper in a mortar and pestle.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a hot pan and add mince, onion, garlic, and Sichuan pepper. Fry on high heat for 10 minutes, breaking up the mince into a crumbly texture. There should be no chunks of mince and the seasonings should be well distributed. Add Shaoxing wine and soy sauce. Continue frying until the mince is dry and a little crisp.
- In the meantime, bring a pot of water to the boil and cook 2 packets of MAGGI 2minute Wholegrain noodles for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baby spinach. Drain water and divide noodles evenly into two bowls.
- Place cooked mince in top of noodles and pour over the sauce. Top with quick pickles, chopped peanuts, sesame seeds and scatter with spring onion.
- Mix and devour.
Sweet Quick Pickles
(Adapted from a Serious Eats recipe)
- 1 cucumber
- 1 large carrot (or 2 equivalent)
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- In a small saucepan, bring vinegar and water to boil. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and salt until dissolved. Allow to cool.
- Chop off the ends of the cucumber and cut into batons/matchsticks.
- Peel carrot and chop off the ends. Cut into batons/matchsticks.
- Place cucumber and carrots into a jar and top up with pickling liquid. Cover and store in refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Thanks to MAGGI 2minute Wholegrain Noodles I have a $100 Prezzy Card to give away.
To enter, simply comment below with your favourite noodle-based dish.
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