Saturday, 18 January 2014

Dan Dan Mian

Dan dan mian or dan dan noodles originates from Sichuan cuisine so as is fairly easy to guess (since I make it pretty clear I’m a bit of a fangirl) I first spotted these in Fuchsia Dunlop’s Sichuan Cookery. They contain many things that I love: noodles (natch), spicy sauce, preserved vegetables, chilli sediment oil, Sichuan pepper and minced pork.

The noodles were originally made by Chengdu street vendors and the name refers to a type of bamboo shoulder-carrying pole (“dan” in Mandarin) that was used by walking street vendors who sold the dish to passers-by: the pole being over the shoulder with a basket at each end containing the noodles and sauce.

I’ve cooked them many times but for the purposes of the blog I did have a look at recipes by other chefs (such as Jamie Oliver and Ching-He Huang). Ultimately, as ever when it comes down to Chinese food for me, I came back to Dunlop: sometimes simple & straightforward really is best - and most authentic.

Dunlop herself publishes 3 versions of the noodles that I know of - I have chosen to go with the original “traditional recipe” from “Sichuan Cookery”. I do make some changes: namely in sauce and pork topping quantities where I also include around 6 tablespoons of noodle cooking water as I like it a little soupier.

Dan dan mian
serves 2

250 g egg noodles
For the sauce

1 tsp groundnut oil
4 tbsp Tianjin preserved vegetable, rinsed & chopped
3 spring onions, green parts only, finely sliced
1 ½ tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp chilli oil, to taste
2 tsp Chinkiang (or chinese black) vinegar
1 tsp ground roasted sichuan peppercorns
For the pork topping
1 tsp groundnut oil
100g minced pork
2 tsp Shaoxing rice wine
4 tsp light soy sauce

Heat 1 tsp of groundnut oil in a wok over a high flame, and then stir-fry the Tianjin vegetable until it is dry and fragrant. Set aside.

Heat another teaspoon of groundnut oil in the wok, add the minced pork and stir-fry, splashing in the Shaoxing wine as the meat separates. Add the soy sauce and continue to fry until the meat is browned and a bit crispy but not too dry. Set aside.

Put the preserved vegetable and the rest of the sauce ingredients back into the wok, mix together and set over a low heat.

Meanwhile cook the noodles according to instructions - drain, adding about 6 tablespoons of the cooking water to the sauce ingredients and mix well

Divide the sauce between two bowls, top with noodles and then top the noodles with the cooked pork.

Serve immediately, with the noodles and pork being mixed into the sauce at the table, using chopsticks.

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