Dan Dan noodles are a classic street food dish from the Sichuan region of South-West China. 'Dan Dan' refers to the wooden pole that street food vendors carry across their shoulders bearing the ingredients needed.
These addictively savoury noodles, laced with chilli oil and fragrant, mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns do require a reasonably well stocked Chinese larder, but are relatively straightforward to make and we hope they'll become a regular on your weekly menu.
Sichuan (or Szechuan) peppercorns are a really important ingredient to this dish, and many other dishes of that region. When you combine the Sichuan pepper with hot chilli, garlic and sesame paste, balance it with black rice vinegar and honey, the sensation you get is unlike anything - invigorating, tongue-tingling and totally delicious.
There is a traditional way of serving this dish: Start by spooning in the sauce at the bottom of the bowl. Then you add in the noodles and top with the crispy pork, green vegetables, peanuts and spring onions. Don't be afraid of the 3 tablespoons of chilli oil in the sauce, it's really worth it and won't actually blow your head off.
1. Toast the peanuts under a grill or in a dry pan and lightly crush.
2. To make the noodle sauce, toast the Sichuan Peppercorns in a dry pan for a minute, then grind to a powder in a pestle & mortar. Mix in all the ingredients together with a whisk and leave to one side.
3. Slice the bok choy and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, ready to cook the noodles and the bok choy.
4. To make the pork or beef topping, heat up a wok, add a tablespoon of rapeseed oil and fry the meat on a high heat. You want it to develop a nice colour and almost start to crisp. If any liquid comes out, keep cooking until it all evaporates. This should take around 5 minutes. Then add in 2 tablespoons of Shoaxing Rice Wine, a tablespoon of Hoisin Sauce, the grated ginger, half the spring onions and preserved black beans. Cook for another minute, then turn off the heat, leaving everything in the pan to keep warm.
5. Drop the noodle nests into the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 1½ minutes, drop in the sliced bok choy and cook for another 30 seconds. Drain everything into a colander.
6. You're now ready to plate up. Divide the sauce between 4 bowls, pile on the noodles and bok choy, top with the cooked pork, plenty of toasted peanuts, the remainder of your spring onions and a teaspoon or two of crispy chilli oil.
When you come to eat, stir everything together in your bowl and enjoy. If by any chance you have some left overs, they are extremely good eaten cold the following day.
Enjoy - and foodies, don't forget to tag us in your social media post if you make this at home.
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