Dan Dan Noodles (担担面)

A modern dan dan noodles recipe that stays true to the authentic Sichuan flavor, with slight moderations for you to enjoy it even if you can’t handle spicy food.

Dan dan Noodles (担担面) | Noodles | Chinese Food | Chinese | Sichuan | Homemade | Peanuts | Spicy | Bowls

Dan dan Noodles is such a classic dish that is really worth the effort to master. I’ve been improving the recipe since I first published this recipe back in 2014, so now it’s time for the second revision.

Please feel free to go straight to the recipe directly if you’re familiar with the dish. If you’re new to Chinese food, make sure you glance through this post to learn about the ingredients and cooking tips.

What is Dan dan Noodles?

Dan dan Noodles (担担面, dan dan mian) is one of the most famous of Sichuan street foods. The freshly boiled egg noodles are served in a savory, spicy broth topped with crispy pork and peanut flakes. Simply stir everything together with a pair of chopsticks to coat the noodles with a bit of everything and slurp! The numbing, smoky, spicy sauce will shock your taste buds, leaving you craving for more.

Dan dan Noodles (担担面) | Noodles | Chinese Food | Chinese | Sichuan | Homemade | Peanuts | Spicy | Bowls

When you go into different restaurants, you’ll find each chef has their own interpretation on dan dan noodles.

In Sichuan restaurants in China, the dan dan noodle dish is more of a snack than a main and is usually served in a small bowl. The noodles are more soupy — mostly immersed in a thick red broth made with chili oil, with a small amount of pork on top. The broth can sometimes be too spicy to handle for most people, but it depends on the chef.

When the dish was introduced in the US, it was transformed and now looks more like a pasta dish — boiled noodles with a meat sauce on top. Sometimes the sauce is more sweet and sour than spicy, almost like a General Tso stir fry (e.g. the Dan dan noodles at Pei Wei). Sometimes the chef will mix Chinese sesame paste into the chili oil to make the sauce creamier and mellow out the spiciness.

Dan dan Noodles (担担面) | Noodles | Chinese Food | Chinese | Sichuan | Homemade | Peanuts | Spicy | Bowls

My own interpretation of dan dan noodles

When I make dan dan noodles at home, I use an approach that is 80% true to the original version from Sichuan. You get the ultra-umami, spicy and numbing-ness coming from the fried pork, pickles, homemade chili oil, and Sichuan peppercorns. But I also mixed in some sesame paste to make the sauce creamier and more appealing to anyone who can only handle milder food.

Here are the key ingredients for my recipe:

  1. Sui Mi Ya Cai – or preserved mustard green

Sui Mi Ya Cai (碎米芽菜) is a must-have ingredient if you want to call a dish dan dan noodles in China. It is not just any type of fermented mustard green, but a type of cardamine bean sprout that is native to Sichuan. It is dried, flavored with sugar and spices, and fermented. The end result is a dark brown pickle that has a crunchy texture and a one-of-a-kind taste — a bit sweet, salty, savory, with a earthy umami.

My previous dan dan Noodle recipe did not include Sui Mi Ya Cai, because it is a very rare ingredient in Beijing (we had to purchase it online from stores in Sichuan). Surprisingly, I see it more often in the US Asian markets. If you do not live near an Asian market you can also purchase it here.

Sui Mi Ya Cai - Sichuan Fermented Mustard Greens

  1. Homemade chili oil

Chili oil is a staple in every family household in Sichuan and the homemade version is a must. It is the main ingredient in dan dan noodles and I highly recommend you make your own. Making chili oil might look daunting at first, but trust me, it only takes 5 minutes. Check out this post to learn how.

A quick note to anyone who cannot handle spicy food — you will still benefit from the homemade chili oil. When you’re making the noodle sauce, you can add a small amount of chili oil to infuse aroma and smokiness; your dish won’t end up very spicy.

  1. Chinese sesame paste

Chinese sesame paste (芝麻酱, zhi ma jiang) is a thick paste made from toasted sesame seeds. Although a lot of original Sichuan dan dan noodle recipes do not contain this ingredient, I prefer to use it to make the sauce creamier. It also balances the spiciness to round up the flavor. It adds great umami too, so your sauce will still taste great if you don’t want to add too much chili oil.

Chinese Sesame Paste 芝麻酱 | omnivorescookbook.com

You can find Chinese sesame paste in most Asian grocery stores, or purchase it online.

Please note, Chinese sesame paste tastes VERY different from tahini. Do not use tahini as an alternative. If you don’t want to purchase Chinese sesame paste, you can also use peanut butter with a few teaspoons of sesame oil mixed in.

Dan dan Noodles (担担面) | Noodles | Chinese Food | Chinese | Sichuan | Homemade | Peanuts | Spicy | Bowls

Cooking notes

  1. How to mix the sauce properly

If this is your first time cooking with Chinese sesame paste, you will find it is quite solid and very difficult to dissolve into the sauce.

The best way to mix the sauce is by adding the sesame paste first, then mixing in the liquid ingredients little by little. Whisk the mixture with a pair of chopsticks (or a spoon) until the solid paste is fully blended with the liquid. Then add more liquid and repeat.

Dan Dan Noodles Cooking Process

  1. How to fry the pork properly

To properly prepare the pork for dan dan Noodles, cook it low and slow.

Use medium heat to cook the surface first, then immediately turn to medium-low heat. Chop the ground meat into tiny pieces and let it roast in the oil to release all the liquid.

At the end you will get beautifully browned pork without adding any soy sauce. The pork bits will be tender and have an almost crispy texture when hot. They will turn a bit chewy once cooled, but since we’ve fully rendered the fat, the pork will taste great served cold.

Dan Dan Noodles Cooking Process

  1. The best workflow

The ingredient list might look overwhelming, but the dish can be practical to cook even on a weekday evening if you’re organized enough.

The best workflow is:

  • Chop and prep all the vegetables
  • Mix the sauce (make chili oil if needed)
  • Start boiling water for the noodles
  • Cook the pork. Meanwhile, boil the noodles
  • Use the noodle-boiling water to quickly blanch the vegetables
  • Heat up chicken stock in microwave
  • Serve everything family-style, so everyone can assemble their noodles to their preference

If you’re preparing this dish for a party, I highly recommend you prepare the sauce and the pork ahead of time, and they will stay good in the fridge for a couple days. Simple boil the noodles and heat up the pork and broth in the microwave right before serving.

Dan dan Noodles (担担面) | Noodles | Chinese Food | Chinese | Sichuan | Homemade | Peanuts | Spicy | Bowls

Dan dan Noodles (担担面) | Noodles | Chinese Food | Chinese | Sichuan | Homemade | Peanuts | Spicy | Bowls

More Sichuan food recipes

Dan dan Noodles (担担面) | Noodles | Chinese Food | Chinese | Sichuan | Homemade | Peanuts | Spicy | Bowls

Do you like this version of dan dan Noodles?

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

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Dan dan Noodles (担担面) | Noodles | Chinese Food | Chinese | Sichuan | Homemade | Peanuts | Spicy | Bowls

Dan Dan Noodles (担担面)


  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 20mins
  • Cook Time: 20mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
  • Category: Main, appetizer
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Description

A modern dan dan noodles recipe that stays true to the authentic Sichuan flavor, with slight moderations for you to enjoy it even if you can’t handle spicy food.


Ingredients

Noodle sauce

Pork topping

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound (450 grams) ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons fermented black beans, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup Sui Mi Ya Cai (Sichuan preserved mustard greens)
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

To assemble

  • 2 cups chicken stock, heated
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts, crushed
  • 10 ounces (300 grams) dried egg noodles (or 1 pound /450 grams fresh noodles)
  • 1 small batch green leafy vegetables, roughly chopped (spinach, baby bok choy etc.)

Instructions

Prepare sauce

  1. Whisk sesame paste and light soy sauce until fully incorporated. Add Chinkiang vinegar. Keep stirring until mixed. Then mix in garlic, green onion, and honey.
  2. Add homemade chili oil, 1/3 cup at a time, mix and taste the sauce. Add more chili oil if you want more spiciness.
  3. Add toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns, 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Taste while you mix, until you can taste the numbingness but can still handle it. The more chili oil you add, the more Sichuan peppercorns you need.

Prepare pork topping

  1. Heat oil in a skillet or a wok over medium heat until hot. Add pork; cook and stir until the surface is cooked and the meat has turned white. Turn to medium-low heat. Add ginger, green onion, fermented black beans, Sui Mi Ya Cai, cooking wine, and sugar. Cook and stir until all the liquid has evaporated and the pork turns a dark brown color. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Prepare the noodle bowl

  1. Cook noodles according to instructions.
  2. Bring the chicken stock to a boil.
  3. Briefly blanch the green leafy vegetables, drain, and set aside.
  4. For each noodle bowl, ladle 1/4 cup heated chicken stock into the bowl. Add 1/4 cup noodle sauce and mix with the stock. Add noodles, top with a few spoonfuls of the cooked pork and some of the spinach. Garnish with peanut crumbles and chopped green onion. Sprinkle with a pinch of toasted ground Sichuan peppercorns, if you like the numbing taste.
  5. Serve hot or cold.

Notes

1. Do add some chili oil even if you cannot eat spicy food, because it will add aroma to the sauce and your sauce won’t end up very spicy.

2. I usually roast the Sichuan peppercorns in a bit oil until they turn dark brown. Then pat dry with paper towel and ground to powder. The oil roasted peppercorns will be less pungent and have a more roundup flavor. I prefer the cooked peppercorns in cold dishes and sauce so it won’t over power the other ingredients.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 of the 6 bowls
  • Calories: 636cal
  • Sugar: 9.1g
  • Sodium: 980mg
  • Fat: 27.8g
  • Carbohydrates: 30.5g
  • Fiber: 4.6g
  • Protein: 25.6g
  • Cholesterol: 47mg

 

The recipe was originally published by Feb. 26, 2015 and updated on Apr. 27, 2017.

Disclosure

Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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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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25 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
  8. Jeff

    These noodles look incredible! It looks like the kind of dish I would order off a menu in an instant, but I would never dream of making at home. So thank you for the recipe.

    Reply
  9. Chef Amok

    Went on the internet to order the “exotic” ingredients, and had fabulous results! Way better Dan Dan Noodles than PF Chang’s! Thank you so much, Maggie. I’m looking forward to making many more of your authentic Sichuan recipes now that I have the right stuff. Sichuan Wontons, Chongqing Noodles, the list goes on and on. There is truly no substitute for the ingredients, including the homemade chili oil made with Sichuan red pepper threads, and the Chinese sesame paste, sui mi ya cai mustard greens, and fermented black beans. Americanized Sichuan food made without Sichuan peppercorns can’t possibly begin to duplicate the real taste of Sichuan. Try this recipe the way Maggie suggests, and you won’t be disappointed! Would suggest doubling or even tripling the recipe so you can have left-overs! The internet has become the source of everything you can possibly require for any and all of Maggie’s Sichuan recipes, so get going and don’t be fearful!

    Reply
  10. Karla

    I make your dan dan recipe overtime and love it. It is similar to the other guys (and I love all these recipes out there, not downing anyone) but yours for some reason is just more fitting to my family. Thank you for sharing and allowing all to explore different foods at home!

    Reply
  11. John

    This recipe seems to call for about 4 fluid oz of “stuff” (soy sauce, vinegar, honey, sesame paste) and then 2/3 – 1 CUP of chili oil. From the appearance of this pictures, perhaps this should be 2/3 – 1 TABLESPOON? Or did you really mean “cup”? With 4 times as much chili oil as sesame paste, I’m pretty sure that I couldn’t even taste the sesame flavor.

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi John, yes I did mean cup. The oil always sinks to the bottom of the bowl, so it’s not that obvious in the photo. The authentic Sichuan version uses chili oil as a main ingredient in the sauce. Since you’ll be making the oil fresh, the dish will taste very fragrant. Although it’s totally fine to add less chili oil if the spicy flavor does not appeal to you. In this case, I suggest you mix the sauce without the chili oil first, then you can try to add the oil into single serving bowls to your taste.

      Reply