Dan Dan noodles are a staple Sichuan dish and have a pungent and nutty flavor. Legend has it, in 1841 Chen BaoBao carried a pole on his shoulder with baskets on each end and then headed to the market in Zigong. One basket held the ingredients while the other basket held the cookware. People quickly fell in love with the smooth and delicious noodles in the flavorful Sichuan broth. When Dan Dan noodles were later introduced to the city of Chengdu, the Hawkers added minced meat for a spicy and umami flavor. As the popularity of the dish spread throughout China, other ingredients were incorporated into the noodle dish. Including vinegar, sesame paste, pickled mustard greens, chili oil, Sichuan pepper, etc. Another interesting component to this dish is that the noodles are not already tossed in the sauce. Instead, each ingredient is assembled in layers and then mixed together after serving.
pork or beef, minced
1 tbsp minced Ya Cai (碎米芽菜 / preserved mustard greens)
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp Shaoxing Rice Wine
1 tbsp scallions, chopped
1 tsp ginger, minced
2 tbsp peanuts, chopped
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp chili flakes, or to taste
pinch of sesame seeds (optional)
1½ tbsp Chinese sesame paste or peanut 🥜 butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp black rice vinegar
1½ tbsp water
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp Chinese Chili Oil or to taste
pinch of sugar
½ tsp ground Sichuan peppercorn
2 servings noodles
1 handful leafy green vegetable, ex: bok choy, spinach, etc
Season the meat. Put the minced meat in a bowl then add the soy sauce and rice wine and mix well.
Fry the toppings. Pour the oil into a cold wok or skillet. Add minced ginger, meat, minced Ya Cai, and chili flakes. Continue to cook until the meat is crispy and has a deep brown color. Set aside.
Make the sauce In a small bowl, whisk the sesame paste and water together. Add the vinegar, garlic, chili oil, soy sauce, ground Sichuan pepper, and sugar. Mix well and then set aside.
Cook the noodles. Boil a pot of water over high heat. Cook the noodles following the instructions on the package (I prefer to cook it a minute less to make it al dente). Add the vegetables to the boiling water at the last minute to cook. at the very end of the process. Drain and rinse under cold water for a few seconds to remove excess starch.
Assemble the dish. Pour the sauce into two serving bowls. Place the noodles on top. Assemble with the cooked vegetables, meat, and peanuts. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions.