20 May 2011

Dan dan noodles (dan dan mian) (kind of)

Just a quickie this one. Chicken breast is not normally something I have knocking around, possessing as it does a lack of taste and a monotony that almost renders it pointless (rubbish stuff that is), and generally fulfilling the meat needs of people who don't seem to actually like meat. But I got this stuff for cheap in a supermarket and I can never resist a bargain. Perhaps too, using up cheap ingredients and making do with what is available is all part of the traditional Szechaun approach to cooking! I wanted something quick and spicy. So I used a dan dan noodle recipe to try and make a chicken version of the Szechuan classic.

  • chicken (or minced pork for legit version)
  • noodles
  • spring onions and/or green vegetables
  • Shoaxing wine, Chinkiang vinegar, soy sauce, Tianjin preserved vegetables, chilli oil, Szechuan pepper

    Tianjin preserved vegetables

    Soak the noodles in boiling water. I used bean thread noodles which are transparent.

    Fry the preserved vegetables and set aside.

    Fry the meat and douse with some cooking wine, vinegar and soy sauce. Add some chilli oil and chopped spring onion. I added chopped courgette and spring greens here instead - obviously the flexibility of this type of cooking means you can use up whatever dregs are in your fridge at the back..

    When the meat is nearly done put the noodles in and add enough of their soaking water to ensure they  become fully cooked in the last couple of minutes that the meat needs. I didn't put in quite enough water at this point and the noodles retained a mild but unwanted bite.

    Toast some Szechuan pepper in a dry pan. Crush when fragrant (needs about four minutes - keep an eye on things to prevent burning).

    Taste and beef up the flavour with anything else it might need. I found it needed more than might be envisaged. I added some Hunan style home-fermented chillies too (the red below).

    Sprinkle with Szechuan pepper and serve. To be honest I don't think this works as well with chicken. The fatty, salty kick of the pork just marries so perfectly with the noodles and the spice. Still a decent and quick supper though.


    1. I think the best noodles for dan dan mian are plain straight wheat noodles. Always used to see them in Chinese supermarkets and until I went to Sichuan I didn't know what they were used for. They're perfect for it though.

      Something like this:


    2. Good job on the dan-dan, it sounds great. It's a good way to use up breast left over from jointing a chicken (as is Gong Bao). Like Joshua, i tend to use wheat noodles, but I like the use of the bean vermicelli here. It's a bit different and I imagine they hold the sauce well.

      When I made something loosely based on dan-dan noodles last night, I added a sauce made up of 3 tbslp sesame paste/tahini, 1 tblsp each of light and dark soy and 2 tbslp chilli oil with sediment. It added a bit of firely bite to proceedings.

    3. Yeah cheers guys – I think the wheat ones might have been better and will try next time. I do like the bean-thread ones but weren't quite right here maybe. This version was cobbled together on the fly pretty majorly..

      I read somewhere that some versions have sesame paste in and have some tahini in the fridge so will give a go!