Dan Dan Noodles (担担面)

Dan Dan Noodles (担担面) - This recipe provides a simple and authentic approach to the famous Sichuan snack. Simple yet scrumptious, a hot and beautiful dish | omnivorescookbook.comThis recipe provides a simple and authentic approach to the famous Sichuan snack – Dan Dan Noodles. You only need a few common Chinese ingredients to create this – simple yet scrumptious, a hot and beautiful dish.

I published a Dan Dan Noodles recipe on October 29th, 2013. It was my fourth month of blogging. I’m updating that recipe today, to give it a more authentic taste.

In this post, I will focus on:

– A brief introduction to Dan Dan Noodles
– Major changes as compared to my last recipe
– Cooking notes
– Or you can directly go to the recipe

A brief introduction to Dan Dan Noodles

Dan Dan Noodles (担担面, dan dan mian) is a famous Sichuan street food. Freshly boiled noodles are served in a sticky and pungent red oil, topped with a very flavorful ground pork sauce, and sprinkled with fried peanut flakes. This noodle dish is more of a snack than a main dish. You won’t find a big bowl of Dan Dan served in restaurant. It is usually served in a very small bowl – plain in appearance yet super rich in flavor. If you look at the ingredient list, you’ll know why this dish is so simple yet flavorful. The authentic version contains nearly 30 ingredients and brings them together to craft a beautiful bowl of noodles.

I’ve had this dish in multiple Sichuan restaurants, and they’re all tasted slightly different from each other. After some research, I found out that even in Sichuan, different regions serve this dish with slightly different ingredients, especially in terms of the different varieties of chili peppers that each region produces.

For most of the authentic recipes I read, they contain the ingredient dong cai or ya cai – a type of preserved vegetable. Some of the versions contain Chinese tahini paste (芝麻酱, zhi ma jiang), black vinegar, spicy fermented bean paste, and peppercorn oil.

However, I found that the original version has two major problems for home cooking. First, the preserved vegetables are very difficult to acquire. Even I have difficulty buying them here in Beijing, unless I order from an online shop focused on regional specialities. Second, if I add too many ingredients into the noodle sauce, they will overpower the key ingredient – chili oil. This makes the dish taste less like dan dan, and more like other cold noodle dishes (I did this in my last recipe).

So I made a few major updates to my last recipe.

Dan Dan Noodles (担担面) - This recipe provides a simple and authentic approach to the famous Sichuan snack. Simple yet scrumptious, a hot and beautiful dish | omnivorescookbook.com
Major changes as compared to my last recipe

  • Eliminate Chinese tahini paste, oyster sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and black vinegar. Well, they all combine to create a nice flavor and make any noodle dish taste better, but they make this one taste less like proper Dan Dan.
  • Combine all the ingredients into one sauce. It’s pointless to make two separate sauces.
  • Increase the amount of chili oil in each bowl of noodles. If you cannot handle the heat, please don’t cook this dish.
  • Make the stir fried ground pork more flavorful by adding more seasoning. Yes, you can make a great sauce without the preserved vegetables.
  • Add boiling liquid from the noodles when serving. Very important. When you add a small amount of liquid into the noodles with chili oil and let them sit together for a while, the sauce will thicken and become very rich.

Dan Dan Noodles (担担面) - This recipe provides a simple and authentic approach to the famous Sichuan snack. Simple yet scrumptious, a hot and beautiful dish | omnivorescookbook.com

Cooking notes

The ingredient list may look painfully long. However, the cooking process is simple and straightforward.

You only need to:

  1. Chop veggies (only a few herbs, not so much to chop)
  2. Marinate the pork
  3. Fry the peanuts (freshly cooked peanuts have better flavor, but you can just buy peanut flakes if you’re feeling lazy)
  4. Cook chili oil (trust me, it only takes 5 minutes)
  5. Stir fry the pork (5 minutes)
  6. Peel and chop the peanuts (A bit tedious, but again, you can get packaged peanut flakes)
  7. Boil noodles (10 minutes)
  8. Use the boiling liquid to blanch the green veggies (if you’re using any)
  9. Mix everything together (5 minutes)

If you cook it once, you will feel the whole process is much easier than you thought. I have arranged the recipe in an order such that you can prepare the dish efficiently.

1502_Dan-Dan-Noodles_001

Before you jump to the recipe, be aware of the following:

  • You really need to cook your own chili oil instead of using a bottled one. It is the most important step and makes this dish taste authentic.
  • Use both chili powder and chili flakes when cooking the chili oil. Although you can just use chili flakes, the chili powder will make the oil thicker and the noodle sauce richer.
  • The noodles are very easy to make in a large quantity and prepare beforehand. Both the pork sauce and chili oil can be stored for quite a long time. The leftovers will be just as delicious. If you’re having a party, cook the peanuts, pork sauce and chili oil a day before. You’ll only need to boil the noodles and assemble the bowls right before serving.
  • Don’t be afraid to add a lot of chili oil into each bowl. Yes, it may add a few more calories, but it is the only key ingredient in this dish and it matters the most. If you don’t add enough oil, the sauce won’t be thick enough.
  • Let the noodles sit for a while before serving. Just as I mentioned earlier, the chili oil and boiling liquid will be absorbed by the noodles to create a sticky and rich texture, just like you’d get in a Chinese restaurant.
  • Serve the noodles in small quantities, just as locals do.

Dan Dan Noodles (担担面) - This recipe provides a simple and authentic approach to the famous Sichuan snack. Simple yet scrumptious, a hot and beautiful dish | omnivorescookbook.com
If you cook Dan Dan Noodles, don’t forget to take a picture and post it on my Facebook fan page. I’d love to see your photos!

5.0 from 5 reviews
Dan Dan Noodles (担担面)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 6
Ingredients
To marinate pork
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) ground pork (lean fat ratio 7:3)
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
(Optional) To cook peanuts (or use peanut flakes)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup raw peanuts, still in shell
To stir fry pork
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 pieces ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced green onion
  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
To mix noodle sauce
  • 3 cups boiling liquid from noodles
  • 2/3 cup homemade chili oil (*see footnote)
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 stalks green onion, finely minced
  • 300 grams dried noodles (or 500 grams fresh noodles)
  • (optional) 3 stalks baby bok choy (or Chinese broccoli)
Instructions
Prepare vegetables
  1. Prepare 4 slices ginger. Mince 2 of the slices to marinate pork. Save the remaining 2 slices for the stir-fry. Chop green onion. Chop 2 tablespoons for the stir-fry. Finely Chop another 3 stalks green onion and transfer to a small bowl, for the noodle sauce. Rinse bok choy. cut into 4 parts lengthwise. (Or rinse and prepare Chinese broccoli if using any.) Crush garlic.
    Dan Dan Noodles Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Dan Dan Noodles Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
Marinate pork
  1. Combine ground pork, ginger, Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, and cornstarch in a bowl. Mix well and set aside to marinate.
    Dan Dan Noodles Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Dan Dan Noodles Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
(Optional) Cook peanut
  1. Add oil and peanuts into a wok and heat over medium heat. When the oil starts to sizzle, turn to low heat. Stir and cook until the surface of the peanuts turns dark brown, about 4 minutes. Use a colander to transfer peanuts to a plate and allow them to cool. Save the oil in the wok and add more, as needed, to make chili oil.
    Dan Dan Noodles Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Dan Dan Noodles Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
Cook fresh chili oil according to this recipe
Cook minced pork.
  1. Heat oil in the same wok over medium high heat until warm. Add ginger and minced green onion. Stir a few times until fragrant. Add minced pork. Stir until the surface is cooked, about 1 minute. Turn to medium heat. Add dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, and sugar. Stir and cook until mixed well and pork is cooked through, about 1 minute. Transfer pork to a plate. Transfer the leftover oil to a small bowl and discard it once cooled.
    Dan Dan Noodles Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Dan Dan Noodles Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.comDan Dan Noodles Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Dan Dan Noodles Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook noodles according to the instructions. Save 3 cups of boiling liquid from the noodles, to use later (very important). Use the rest of the boiling liquid to slightly blanch the bok choy (or Chinese broccoli).
Peel and chop peanut
  1. When peanuts have cooled enough to handle, peel the peanuts by hand and discard the shells. To chop peanuts, place them on two sheets of paper towel and fold the towel until the peanuts are wrapped inside. Use the a kitchen hammer (or the back of a cleaver) to hit the peanuts until they turn into small flakes. Transfer to a small bowl.
    Dan Dan Noodles Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Dan Dan Noodles Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
To assemble noodles
  1. Divide noodles evenly among 6 bowls. Add boiling liquid from the noodles to each bowl until it almost covers the noodles. For each bowl, add 2 tablespoons minced pork, 1/2 teaspoon garlic, and 2 teaspoons green onion. Pour 2 tablespoons chili oil with chili flakes, and 1 teaspoon light soy sauce. Mix well. Let the noodles soak in the sauce for 5 minutes before serving.
  2. Mix the noodles again, garnish with baby bok choy (if using any) and top with a teaspoon of peanut flakes.
    Dan Dan Noodles Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Dan Dan Noodles Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
  3. Serve warm. You can add more minced pork and peanut flakes on top while eating.
Notes
The fresh chili oil is the key ingredient and the one item that matters the most. I suggest you to cook this at home instead of buying the bottled one from supermarket. It sounds a bit intimidating, but in practice, it only takes 5 minutes to finish. I also created a short video to show you how easy it is to cook at home.

The nutrition facts are calculated based on 1 of the 6 servings generated by this recipe.

Dan Dan Noodles Nutrition Facts | omnivorescookbook.com

You will also like:

Chinese chili oil | Omnivore's Cookbook
How to Make Fresh Chinese Chili Oil (辣椒油)

Hand Pulled Noodles - Thumbnail | omnivorescookbook.com
Easy Hand-Pulled Noodles

The tender ground lamb meat is cooked with potato, tomato, onion, and pepper to create a simple, colorful, and delectable noodle sauce - Uyghur-Style Noodles with Lamb Sauce (Laghman, 新疆拌面) | omnivorescookbook.com
Uyghur-Style Noodles with Lamb Sauce (Laghman, 新疆拌面)

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Meet Maggie

Hi I'm Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking - including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my Austin, Texas kitchen.

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17 thoughts on “Dan Dan Noodles (担担面)

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Karen, for the the spicy sauce, I used the homemade one and you could check it here (The recipe called “spicy sauce”). I never tried to cook it with Sriracha, but I think the result will be quite different. You could purchase Chinese chili oil, also calls red oil, in China town. But I highly recommend make it at home, because the taste will be much better for freshly made chili oil, and it’s quite easy to cook.

      Reply
  1. Kathleen | HapaNom

    Oh Maggie, you’re singing to my heart! I love dan dan noodles, and your recipe looks absolutely amazing! I wish I had a big bowl of this right now! I can’t wait to get back home (still traveling in Europe) and make this dish!

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Omnivore’s Cookbook: Dan Dan Mian | Afoodcionado

  3. Alice

    Hi, Maggie! I am a fan of Dan Dan Noodles, but I have been making it with a jarred sauce, mixed with pork. Not exactly authentic! Your version looks much better, and the tip about using the noodle cooking water is genius! Can’t wait to try your recipe!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      I’m so glad to hear you are interested in trying out this recipe! It takes a bit more time than using jarred sauce, but if you already have some chili oil (I always do, because they stay forever in the fridge), it will be super simply to make these noodles.
      Happy cooking and let me know how the dish turns out 🙂

      Reply
  4. Julie

    I tried this Dan Dan Noodle recipe today. I used fresh noodles instead of the dried–I found the boiling water and noodles to be very starchy. Should I have rinsed them? and used fresh boiling water with the chili sauce? Also, how do you keep your noodles from sticking together?

    Reply
  5. Emily P.

    I made this recipe this morning (with the fresh chili oil) and it was DELICIOUS!! I was worried the chili oil would be harder than it actually was – it’s fairly simple except I wasn’t sure at first what to use for chili flakes. I ended up putting some Tien Tsin peppers in a food processor to ground them up. I also bought frozen noodles from a Chinese grocery nearby. I haven’t had a bowl of noodles like this since I left China- awesome!!

    Thank you for the recipe!

    Reply
  6. Marissa

    Hey Maggie! 🙂 I’ve been meaning to make this recipe for ages – it looks so good. A couple of questions: Do you store your homemade chili oil in the fridge? I see some Dan Dan Noodle recipes that call for pickled mustard greens – are you familiar with them? Thanks friend!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Marissa, happy to see you here! To answer your questions, yes, I do store my chili oil in the fridge. You don’t have to if you make a small batch and use them fast. But storing it in the fridge will prevent it from getting rancid much longer. As for mustard greens, yes, the authentic dish does use it for topping. You can get it in Asian market. It is fermented mustard greens, basically a pickle. The Asian market here is too small and I couldn’t find it at the time, so I skipped it in this recipe.
      Happy cooking and let me know how the dish turns out 🙂

      Reply
      1. Marissa

        Thanks, Maggie! I got a bunch of mustard greens in my CSA share yesterday. I think I’ll try pickling them myself. To use them in this recipe, when would a you add them in and about how much? Thanks for your help! So excited to try this!

  7. Robin

    Made this twice now and it’s turned out very well. Used frozen Japanese udon noodles which seemed to work well, but the quantity of liquid seemed a little bit high (“fill bowl until almost covering noodles”). I ended up just adding more chili oil though, and it worked out. Maybe the udon noodles don’t absorb as much liquid as others.
    Anyway, very delicious – thanks for this recipe.

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Robin, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the dish! I never used frozen udon noodles for this one yet, but I think it will work. The thin noodles I used absorb tons of water, so I ended adding more. If it does not work for your noodles, do try adding less soup the next time.
      Hope you have a great week ahead 🙂

      Reply