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dan dan noodles (dandanmian)

December 10, 2016

i can’t stop eating these noodles because they taste so good.

but, i can’t stop crying.

they’re so, so spicy.

did you ever make something that tasted so good despite it being too spicy, but you were determined to power through it, and you ended up with tears streaming down your face?

that’s me today.

this chili oil is great – a nice change of pace from la jiao jiang with sichuan flavors like star anise and cinnamon.

sichuan dishes heavy on the peppercorns are known as “numbing” – and this one is ~definitely~ numbing. as in, my mouth is completely numb and tingly… and i keep going back for more.

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i modified this recipe from woks of life. one of the main and most important parts of dan dan noodles are the pickled chinese mustard greens. it’s not really dan dan noodles without sui mi ya cai. so, maybe i should call this something different, because i didn’t use any. don’t fear if you can’t get them – these noodles are amazing even without the greens. next time i’ll plan this a little better and get some sui mi ya cai… or at least get some bok choy to get some nutrients in there and, and to help cool the fire. and a larger bottle of antacids.

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MAKE THE CHILI OIL
2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
1 inch-long piece of Chinese cinnamon (gui-pi) [i used whatever cinnamon i have]
2 star anise
1 cup oil
1/4 cup crushed red pepper flakes

In a small pot, add the Sichuan peppercorns, cinnamon stick, star anise, and oil. Over medium low heat, slowly heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and then turn off the heat. Wait 6-7 minutes, then remove the peppercorns, cinnamon stick, and star anise with a slotted spoon.
Add the crushed red pepper flakes and allow them to steep in the hot oil. It should start smelling fragrant, almost like popcorn. Allow the oil to cool. This makes more chili oil than you’ll need, but you’ll be glad to have it on hand for use in other dishes. Store in a glass jar and keep refrigerated.

MAKE THE MEAT
3 teaspoons oil
8 oz. ground pork
2 teaspoons sweet bean sauce or hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons shaoxing wine (or cooking sherry)
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
1/3 cup sui mi ya cai (i left this out)

In a wok, heat a teaspoon of oil over medium heat, and brown the ground pork. Cook til partially crispy.

Add the sweet bean sauce, shaoxing wine, dark soy sauce, and five spice powder. Cook until all the liquid is evaporated. Set aside. Heat the other 2 teaspoons of oil in the wok over medium heat, and sautee the sui mi ya ci (pickled vegetables) for a few minutes. Set aside.

MAKE THE SAUCE
2 tablespoons sesame paste (tahini)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn powder (we ground whole Sichuan peppercorns in a mortar and pestle)
1/2 cup of your prepared chili oil [HEY IF YOU ARE USING 9 OZ OF PASTA PLEASE DON’T USE A HALF-CUP UNLESS YOU LIKE THINGS VERY, VERY HOT, MAYBE USE LESS THAN HALF, SERIOUSLY THIS CHILI OIL CAME OUT SO, SO HOT]
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
¼ cup hot cooking water from the noodles

Mix together all the ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning if you like.

PUT IT TOGETHER
cook about a pound of cu mian (Shanghai-style noodle,) fresh soft medium-thickness white noodles from an Asian marketplace, or udon noodles. Don’t forget the cooking water for the sauce! Steam bok choy or whatever other greens you have. Grab your bowl and add sauce to the bottom, then noodles, then greens and pork. Top with scallions, and peanuts that you fried up in some oil.

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modified from the woks of life

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may end up adding this to the “favorites” list after i make it a few more times with so, so, so much less chili oil. and so much less heartburn.

tastes like something magical, just as it sounds – sweet, very hot, lots of textures – just what street food should be!

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