I am so excited to finally post my Dan Dan Noodles recipe. My obsession started a year ago when I stumbled across a recipe online. The pictures were stunning and I was drooling almost immediately. When this happens, I know this is something I need to make. As I Googled Dan Dan Noodles (dandanmian), there were so many versions out there and eventually I decided I needed to start testing my own version.
Dan Dan Noodles Originated in China
This noodle dish comes from Chengdu, which is the capital of the Sichuan Province. The longer name of this noodle dish is dandanmian which translates to "carrying pole noodles" as this is how the vendors carried and sold the noodles as street food. Thank you Wikipedia. When I looked it up on YouTube, I also found a great video by a YouTuber called The Food Ranger. Have you heard of him? I didn't know anything about his channel, but his video sampling Dan Dan noodle places in Chengdu was very exciting to watch. Here is the link if you want to watch it: Dan Dan Noodle Tour in Chengdu.
Here's what I discovered testing this noodle recipe
Let's start with the meat. I noticed that most food sites were using ground pork for this dish, but a few were using ground Italian sausage. Hmmm... I love Italian sausage and thought this sounded awesome. I made them and one thing was very clear: it is simply too salty. The Dan Dan sauce already has soy in it and that's going to give you a punch of salt right off the bat. Using the Italian sausage pushed the salt level over the edge for me. And I love my salt. I'm glad I only made a small batch of that and knew right away: No. It's best with ground pork, but I also think you could use ground chicken too, though I didn't try that myself.
Here's the deal with the noodles. Kind of funny. All the times I tested the recipe, I went to the Asian market and bought fresh, round egg noodles. However, I have discovered you can't keep egg noodles in the fridge too long or they will mold. When you buy them, you need to use them within a few days. Check the package for any dates you can find. Even if you think they are "fresh" they might be old. Case in point: The final fresh noodles I bought to film the video for this were old. I didn't know this. I was in the middle of filming, opened the package and saw the mold. Unfortunately, I didn't have any extra. This is when I discovered that a plain, old box of thin spaghetti works just fine too! Really, the delicious factor was the same.
The Chili Oil and the Dan Dan Sauce
I recently posted a Homemade Chili Oil with Sediment Recipe and you will need chili oil with sediment to make this dish. It's special and it is NOT that clear chili oil you find in the international aisle at your local supermarket. There is sediment at the bottom of the jar. Your brain may be thinking chili oil is too spicy for me. Well, I am here to say that is not necessarily true. You can really and truly make this chili oil as mild or spicy as you want. My chili oil recipe is a mild version for sure. If you want it spicier all you have to do is add more red pepper flakes. That's it.
The chili oil with sediment is one of a handful of ingredients used to make the sauce for the noodles. Most Dan Dan sauces that I researched have the same ingredients, but with varying proportions. So when you're making the sauce remember that you don't have to make it exactly as I have written it. If you want more tahini, add it. Do you think it's too much raw garlic for your taste? Add less. Too much soy - no problem. You can make the version in my recipe, or simply adjust the ingredients to make the sauce that works for you. To be honest, I tried a version of the Dan Dan sauce without the raw garlic and it tasted great too. So, if the raw garlic is freaking you out - don't add it.
Final assembly: mix it all together or individually?
I did it both ways when I was testing this. In terms of presentation, it is lovely to prepare each bowl of noodles individually which is the way I prefer to do it. Put the sauce on the bottom of your bowl, noodles on top, spoon in the ground pork, add the bok choy, scallions, peanuts, and a splash of warm chicken broth (or water). Then each person gets to toss their own noodles. Serve with the additional Dan Dan sauce and the chili oil with sediment on the side. Add more of each if you want! I enjoyed adding a small spoonful of chili oil while I was eating.
The other option is to drain the water from the noodle pot (after you've cooked the bok choy, of course). Put the noodles back in. Pour all the Dan Dan sauce and pork into the pot and mix well. Put noodles in bowls and top with bok choy, scallion, etc... This way works too, but I think it's more fun the other way.
These noodles are so incredibly comforting and addicting. I was really blown away by the flavors. I made this so many times you would think I am sick on them. Nope. Now that I am writing this and posting the video (which I filmed over a month ago), I want to make them again! That's the problem with having a cooking website. I have to look at all the photos and videos throughout the process of publishing this post. Every time - never fails - I want to make that recipe again.Print