Dan dan noodles is a typical spicy Szechuan dish. The classic recipe includes fresh noodles and a meat topping made with ground pork or beef and (usually) Szechuan preserved vegetables. But there are many variations of this Southwestern Chinese dish, including this one without any meat.
The one thing you’ll find in every recipe for dan dan noodles is a spicy sauce that includes sesame paste and hot chili oil. Most recipes include roasted Szechuan peppercorn, although sometimes it's left out of the sauce and served as a garnish instead.
This quick and easy recipe for dan dan noodles combines the spicy sauce with dried Chinese noodles. You can, of course, substitute dried spaghetti if desired.
- For the Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste, tahini, or peanut butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons black rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons roasted Szechuan peppercorn
- 1 tablespoon hot chili oil (or to taste)
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- Optional: 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- For the Noodles:
- 12 ounces dried Chinese noodles or pasta
- For the Garnish:
- 1/3 cup roasted peanuts
- 4 spring onions or green onions (finely chopped)
Gather the ingredients.
In a small mixing bowl, add the sesame paste, sesame oil, and black rice vinegar. Whisk to combine.
Continue whisking as you add the remaining sauce ingredients. Taste and add sugar if needed.
Chop the roasted peanuts either using a food processor or with a mortar and pestle.
Cook the dried noodles according to the package directions. Drain in a colander. (Do not rinse unless the package directions say to do so.)
Place the noodles in a large (preferably warm) bowl. Whisk the sauce again and then stir it into the noodles.
Dish the noodles into individual bowls and garnish with the chopped spring onions and peanuts.
- It is ideal to use Chinese sesame paste in this recipe, but it can be difficult to find. You can substitute tahini, which is also a sesame paste, or use peanut butter which has a similar flavor.
- Szechuan peppercorn adds a sharp bite to the sauce. How much to use comes down to personal preference. If you’re unsure, start with 1/2 teaspoon and do a taste test. You can also leave it out of the sauce altogether and serve on the side as a condiment, allowing everyone to help themselves.
- Although the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of hot chili oil, feel free to adjust the amount based on the level of spiciness preferred.
- Garnish with toasted sesame seeds to enhance the nutty flavor of the dish.
- Leave out the roasted Szechuan peppercorn from the sauce and serve as a condiment on the side or sprinkle over the noodles as a garnish.
- To turn this into a vegetarian main dish, add an assortment of raw vegetables, such as mung bean sprouts and sliced carrot and/or cucumber.