Dan Dan noodles is a classic Szechuan noodle dish that is characteristically spicy. Dan dan means pole; once, the street vendor shouldered a bamboo pole, each end dangling one basket of slim noodles and another of pepper-spiked red-brown sauce.
This recipe was inspired by Dooby's restaurant, Baltimore and originally published in The Chicago Tribune.
Any dried or fresh white wheat noodle will work as well as ramen noodles or even spaghetti in a pinch. If you don't have sunbutter, peanut butter or even tahini can work in a pinch.
You can substitute 1 pound ground pork instead of cubed pork sirloin. To make the dish vegetarian, substitute chopped mushrooms for the pork, or omit entirely.
- 2 2 bunches baby bok choy
- Sesame oil
- 1/2 Pound fresh or dried Chinese noodles
- 1/4 Cup soy sauce
- 3 Tablespoons sunflower seed butter
- 2 Tablespoons sambal
- 1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon rice wine (or other) vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon ground star anise
- 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 Tablespoon ground Sichuan (or black) pepper
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon
- 1 Pound boneless pork sirloin, cubed
- 1 Tablespoon canola oil
- 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 Cup chili oil
- 1/4 Cup toasted sesame seeds
- 1/4 Cup finely chopped green onions
Step 1: Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Add bok choy; cook until leaves wilt bright green and stems turn tender, 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, pull out bok choy; rinse under cool water. Sprinkle with a little salt; drizzle with a little sesame oil.
Step 2: Add 1/2 pound noodles to the hot water; cook until tender but firm. Scoop out 1 cup of the cooking water. Drain noodles; rinse under cool water. Toss with a little salt and sesame oil.
Step 3: Blend together ¼ cup of the reserved cooking water, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 3 tablespoons sunflower seed butter, 2 tablespoons sambal, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 tablespoon ground star anise, 1 tablespoon ground coriander, 1 tablespoon pepper and a pinch of cinnamon.
Step 4: Toss pork cubes in the food processor. Pulse several times.
Step 5: Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a wide heavy skillet. Add pork; cook until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon grated ginger and 2 cloves chopped garlic; cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Pour in sauce; cook, 1 minute. Add ¼ cup reserved water (or more) to achieve a thin sauce that isn't sticky. Pull pan off heat.
Step 6: Pour 1 tablespoon chili oil into each of 4 shallow bowls. (Use less for those who are spice averse.) Add pork with sauce to each bowl. Scatter on sesame seeds. Heap noodles on top of sauce. Settle a few bok choy stems alongside. Sprinkle on green onions. Let each guest swirl and dig in.