Dan Dan Mian. This is a dish that I have been disfiguring for years in an attempt to recreate it successfully. In past attempts I didn’t have the keen eye to detail that I do now (lol), nor did I have the drive to go out and get all of the ingredients that I would surely only use for this one meal…or so I thought.
My father and I have been asian cuisine fans since I was younger, and we would go to U of M games(football or hockey). In truth, it was mostly for the chinese food and dad time and less for the actual game itself. Good old dad decided that we were going to the “NEW” asian market in Saginaw, and he was going to spring for all the ingredients to make his beloved “Dan Dan Mian” noodle dish. We bought all of the ingredients in large bottles so that we could make this dish more often, and at our convenience without going out to pick up stuff.
Dan Dan, pronounced like the american name(twice) is a dish that we, until now, have only been able to enjoy at Hunan Gardens in Kalamazoo, Michigan. We would each get the Dan Dan, and a full order of roasted duck (which I will make soon!!). This meal in itself was worth the 3 hour drive, just knowing how good it was once we got there.
That being said, I finally made it today and I think I freaking nailed it.
I took all the ingredients (after a trip to Meijer for herbs and pork) over to my dad’s apartment to cook it. Upon arriving, I realized that he was still sleeping and that I would be left to do all the prep work myself. It was an amalgamation of asian cuisine today as I also make Japanese Gyoza (in another post), then I started work on our favorite dish.
I used a few different recipes over the years in hopes that I would be able to recreate the masterpiece that we had been clamoring to make for so long. I finally found a recipe that I could work with(and modify a bit). The original comes from a recipe called “Chings Midnight Dan Dan Noodles.”
I made a few changes that I thought would make it more my style, and the way that my dad and I knew it.
First, I started the wok on high heat until smoking, then added the peanut oil. This in my dad’s apartment was a huge mistake, and smoked out not only the apartment, but the entire building apparently. This wasn’t good, because they had three lovebirds that couldn’t tolerate the smoke, and had to be moved.
After almost destroying the birds and the complex, I added the ginger(which cooks fast, be careful), chiles, and garlic. This you will stir-fry up for about 30 seconds and then add the meat until browned, about 2-3 minutes. This is a part that I changed because I had always eaten it with ground pork instead of beef. Not a big deal, just like it better that way.
I also left out the cornichons from the original because I didn’t know what they were in the first place, and I didn’t remember them from what I had eaten in Kzoo.
The sesame paste, soy sauce, rice wine, vinegar and peppercorns came next, and I cooked that until the pork started to crispen up. Add white pepper afterwards to taste. I have to be honest with you, the freking peppercorns and actual “asian” ingredients make all the difference. If you substitute the sesame paste for peanut butter, use balsamic instead of black chinkiang rice vinegar, or straight up leave the peppercorns out like I have in the past…..you’ll be sorry. It’s a WORLD of difference if you do it right. I promise!!!
The “cooking” of the dish is done, other than the noodles and heating up the chicken stock. I won’t go much into that part because if you cannot cook plain noodles “al dente”, you shouldn’t be trying to cook this dish anyways. Once you cook the noodles in a boiling pot of water until “al dente”, you drain them and mix thoroughly with some of the toasted sesame oil.
The chicken stock is simply warmed up, get it done.
The Garnish for this dish is also what makes the Dan Dan. Mix together the chili oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, peppercorns and the chiles in a small bowl. I used dried chinese chili peppers instead of the 3 red fresno chiles, and it was great….my only real substitution to the meal…no biggie.
The finish and serving of the dish is done by adding the noodles to a bowl and sprinkle the meat topping over it. Pour the garnish oil mixture on top of that, and then as much chicken stock in after that as you see fit. I usually use about ½ cup of the stock myself, as I don’t want it watery.
This entire dish is topped off with pinches of cilantro, parsley, scallions, and salt and pepper to taste. I also like to add a little sriracha sauce to spice it up a bit at the end.
The final result was magical, and my dad ate every bite of it in pure bliss. He was so excited to have actual Dan Dan Mian in front of him in his own house, he actually said that if we figured out the duck recipe, we wouldn’t have to go to Kalamazoo anymore.
- 1 pound flat wide wheat-flour noodles ( udon)
- Pinch sea salt
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1 tablespoon finely grated freshly peeled ginger root
- 3 red Fresno chiles, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 9 ounces ground pork
- 1 tablespoon Chinese sesame paste
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoshing rice wine
- 1 tablespoon Chinkiang black rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
- Freshly ground white pepper
- ¼ cup chili oil
- ¼ cup toasted sesame oil
- ⅛ cup light soy sauce
- ⅛ cup dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
- 3 red dried Chinese chili peppers
- 2 large scallions, finely chopped
- 1 small handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 3 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock, very hot
- First I started the wok on high heat until smoking, then added the peanut oil.
- I added the ginger(which cooks fast, be careful), chiles, and garlic.
- This you will stir-fry up for about 30 seconds.
- Add the meat until browned, about 2-3 minutes.
- The sesame paste, soy sauce, rice wine, vinegar and peppercorns came next, and I cooked that until the pork started to crispen up.
- Add white pepper afterwards to taste.
- Cook noodles according to package directions. Al dente is best.
- Warm chicken stock.
- Mix the garnish ingredients in a small bow.
- To finish, add the noodles to a bowl, sprinkle with pork topping.
- Add garnish mixture to top and then add as much chicken stock as you would like in your bowl.
- Optional: Add some Sriracha
- You can also add extra toppings such as pinches of cilantro, parsley, scallions, salt and pepper to taste.