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Holidays are all about family, friends, and delicious and fun food. For many Chinese families, that means 1) hosting a hot pot party or 2) attending a hot pot party at someone else’s house. For me, since I am not seeing my folks this year, I’ll mostly likely keep my Christmas really low key and cook some simple but comforting Sichuan dish such as Dan Dan Noodles (aka Dan Dan Mian, 擔擔麵, or 担担面)
For those of you frequent Sichuan (Szechuan) eateries, you probably know that Dan Dan Noodles is arguably one of the must-try dishes at any Sichuan restaurants. In fact it’s so popular that this spicy, sweet, and tangy noodle dish has often used to measure how authentic a restaurant is!
In Sichuan, I grew up eating authentic Dan Dan Noodles which are somewhat different from the versions served in the States. For one, the dish is generally considered as a quick snack and often served out of street stands and eaten from a Styron form bowl. Also, the authentic fare consists noodles swimming in scary amount of chili oil which could be lethal to some non-local eaters.
Unlike this Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork) Noodle dish, Dan Dan Noodles are traditionally not a soup noodle dish. Rather it’s hybrid between soup noodle and noodle salad. There is just enough sauce to coat the noodles but not enough for you to drink.
A note about the noodles. If you have been following me on facebook, you probably know that I am a huge fan of noodle dishes. I live in a small apartment and cook in a tiny urban kitchen which is probably smaller than some of your powder rooms. But I still manage to keep a pasta machine just so I can make my own fresh noodles. If you don’t feel like making your own noodles, you can use fresh Chinese noodles (such as lo mein) or fresh Korean noodles (thanks Luci for your tips).
I know it’s a lot of hassle but the fresh noodles do make a huge difference if you are into that perfect elastic and chewy noodle texture!
In this recipe, I am only suggesting the minimum of chili oil you should use in order to preserve the flavor profile. However if you feel like eating like Sichuan locals, just double or triple the amount of chili oil.
Step by Step Illustration
This recipe serves two small bowls of Dan Dan Noodles. You need to divide the ingredients to two portions when building the sauce.
Ya Cai is a special persevered mustard green from Sichuan. If you can’t find it use other kinds of Chinese persevered mustard vegetables instead.
These noodles need to be served right away so the noodles don’t get saggy.