You can make this delicious recipe for Dan Dan Noodles from Dumplings and Noodles by Pippa Middlehurst with either homemade ramen noodles, or ready-made ones. The recipe leads you through making both the spicy ground beef and the addictively nutty sauce that are key to a great bowl of dan dan mian.
Find out more about Dumplings and Noodles by Pippa Middlehurst in our full review.
Dan Dan Noodles
This is probably my favourite noodle recipe. I say that about a lot of dishes, but I think this one actually is. It’s also one of my longest standing recipes, one that I have been making again and again for years, an organic process that has meant that, over time, it has changed little by little and become very much my own. It is different in appearance and substance from a dan dan mian (mian for ‘noodles’) that you might get in a restaurant or on the streets of a Sichuanese city, but the essence is the same. I guess you might call this my signature dish.
- About 200g (7 oz) fresh thick ramen noodles or 120 g (4½ oz) dried thick wheat noodles (2 nests)
- 1 tbsp neutral oil
- 200 g (¾ cup) minced (ground) beef (>15% fat) or 100g (scant ½ cup) each of minced (ground) beef and pork
- 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
- 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
- 2 tbsp sweet bean sauce or hoisin sauce
- ½ tsp dark soy sauce
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce
- 2 tbsp sesame paste or tahini
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Chinkiang black rice vinegar
- 2 tsp light soft brown sugar
- ¼ tsp freshly ground Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 tbsp homemade chilli oil or Lao Gan Ma Crispy Chilli Oil
- 100 ml (½ cup) chicken stock (preferably homemade) or water
- 2 handfuls of leafy greens such as pak choi/bok choy, kai lan, choi sum or spinach, sliced
- 2 tbsp crushed roasted peanuts
- 2 tbsp sui mi ya cai or 1 tbsp finely diced gherkin
- 2 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
- 2 radishes, julienned (optional)
Begin by cooking the noodles until al dente according to the instructions or on the packet. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking liquid, and then rinse in plenty of cold water until they are completely cool (this will prevent them from sticking), then set aside.
Next make the sauce. Add the sesame paste (or tahini) and peanut butter to a small bowl, along with the soy sauce, rice vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the reserved noodle-cooking water, and gradually mix this together. Sesame paste is quite solid and can be difficult to dissolve, but stick with it. I use the back of a fork to mash it in with the liquid ingredients to begin with. Once the sesame paste is incorporated, add the rest of the sauce ingredients. You can add more chilli oil if you want more of a kick. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan or wok over a high heat. Add the minced (ground) beef (or mixed beef and pork) and let it brown and caramelize for at least 1 minute, without stirring. Then, stir and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes until browned all over. Once the meat is browned, add the Chinese five spice powder and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in the rice wine and deglaze the pan, then add the sweet bean sauce (or hoisin), soy sauce and black pepper. Mix well and turn down the heat to cook for another 2 minutes.
To assemble, add 50ml (¼ cup) of the hot chicken stock or water to each bowl. Add half of the sauce to each bowl and combine with the stock/ water. Add half the cooked noodles and sliced greens, then top with half the meat mixture, followed by a tablespoon each of the peanuts and sui mi ya cai, and half the spring onions (scallions) and radishes (if using). Mix it all together and enjoy!
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Kavey Eats received a review copy of Dumplings and Noodles by Pippa Middlehurst from publishers Quadrille. Recipe extracted with permission. Book cover and original recipe images provided by Quadrille, photography by India Hobson & Magnus Edmondsen. Additional images Kavey Eats.