This is comfort food, Asian style.  Udon noodles have a slightly denser and more chewy texture than regular pasta, or even buckwheat (soba) noodles, so a small portion should satisfy you.   The recipe, published in Bon Appetit a few months ago, is very traditional in Szechuan cuisine. Its Chinese name, dan dan mian (担担面) comes from street vendors carrying baskets of noodles (mian), hanging from those long poles that balance on their shoulders (dan).    The authentic version is quite spicy, so reduce the amount of chili oil  if you prefer a fire a little tamer…  😉

(from  Peter Chang, published in Bon Appetit, October 2011)

8 ounces udon noodles
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounces ground pork
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger
3/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons or less chili oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoon tahini
1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
Pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons sliced scallions

Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water until just tender (follow instructions on the package).  Drain, rinse  with cold water, drain again, and place in a large serving bowl (or divide the mixture in two for individual servings).

Heat vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add pork, season with salt and pepper, and cook for a couple of minutes (no need to fully cook the meat at this point).  Add ginger; cook until pork gets lightly browned, about 2 minutes more. Stir in chicken stock, then add the chili oil, red vinegar, soy sauce, tahini, peppercorns, and a pinch of sugar.

Simmer everything together until the sauce thickens, about 7 minutes. Pour pork mixture over noodles; garnish with peanuts and scallions.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you don’t have Chinese peppercorns, simply omit them. I am the lucky owner of a bag of these peppercorns brought from China by a former graduate student in our lab.   But, it’s also available online from many sources, including one of my favorite stores, The Spice House.

Usually, Phil and I agree on our assessment of a recipe.  This time we didn’t.  I loved it, he felt it was a tad too heavy and oily.  Next time I might reduce the amount of oil used to saute the pork, and use peanut butter instead of tahini, dissolving it well in the other components of the sauce before adding to the pan.

The recipe made enough for our dinner, and I had leftovers for a light lunch a couple of days later.  It is quite filling, but I still found myself glued to my chopsticks, going back to the serving bowl for one more taste…. and another…. and another…

ONE YEAR AGO:  Sophie Grigson’s Parmesan Cake

TWO  YEARS AGO: Antibiotics and Food

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22 thoughts on “DAN DAN NOODLES

  1. Oh, Sally! I love all types of noodles, and this dish is simply wonderful! I have almost all the ingredients, except tahini. I even have Chinese peppercorns, bought them a couple of months ago, don’t even remember what for LOL

    I am making this tomorrow night, and will report back


  2. I’ve never used szechuan peppercorns!! Must discover. I agree, udon is so satisfying and you wouldn’t believe it Sally, I was walking from home from the gym yesterday and dreaming of peanuts and noodles… I have a major craving right now! Great post.


  3. Sally, just reporting back: awesome recipe! I reduced the oil to saute the pork as you suggested, and thought the dish was still very satisfying and not too heavy. But we love tahini, so maybe that helps

    I am looking forward to the leftovers, although not that much is left 😉

    Thanks again for another great recipe, fast and perfect for after work


  4. I’m definitely going to give this recipe a try Sally! I think both of the kids would really enjoy this as they both seem to really enjoy Asian dishes. I may take your recommendation of less oil and peanut butter though. Actually – maybe we’ll try it both ways! 😉


    • Cool! We have the same plate!

      I don’t see why you could not adapt for beef or chicken – it’s all in the simmering sauce and the texture of the noodles – now I am getting hungry again…. 😉


  5. Yummy! I make a cold Chinese noodle salad that uses peanut butter (I’m lazy and usually use spaghetti rather than proper Asian noodles), but I’ve never had it hot with pork in it. If I were using tahini, I might sprinkle sesame seeds on top.


  6. Sally, fabulous recipe! I made it tonight and Vlad hummed and exclaimed from time to time: wow, this is good! wow, it is so good! I think I earned some points tonight :))
    I used ramen instead of udon, cause I couldn’t find udon, and I was anxious to try the recipe. I used beef instead of pork and I put a Tbs of sesame oil instead of tahini, and 2 Tbs of roasted sesame seeds.
    This dish is a keeper, simple to make, quick and absolutely delicious!
    ps: almost forgot… a big “thank you” from Vlad!
    hugs, codruta


  7. Pingback: Ce mai e nou? Despre maia si altele. | Apa. Faina. Sare.

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