The name Dan Dan noodles can seem strange to some people until they learn of the origin. Hundreds of years ago in China, food vendors wandered the streets with their wares on a bamboo pole known as a dan.
The dish helped to ease the hunger of scholars and game players, although it required them to eat it quickly to ensure the fried topping remained crisp and the noodles hot. Today, the dish remains known for it mouth-numbing pepper and smoky-flavored chili oil.
Making and Eating Dan Dan Noodles Today
The best noodles for this dish are those made fresh with water and flour. Pulling the noodles by hand with the assistance of a strong alkaline is how many chefs still prepare this dish in China. However, the same type of noodles aren’t readily available in the United States.
For those who can’t track them down, dried Chinese noodles make a good substitute. Any type of water and fresh wheat flour noodle will work as well. The next step is to boil the noodles in water just long enough to make them springy and then set them aside to prepare the meat.
Meat and Other Ingredients
The person preparing a dish of Dan Dan noodles can choose either beef or pork according to his or her preferences. At least one pound of uncooked meat is required to start cooking. The other ingredients the cook may want to consider adding include:
- Beef broth
- Chopped peanuts
- Hot chili sauce
- Chopped fresh ginger
- Sesame paste
- Soy sauce
- Chopped green onions
- Chopped garlic
Next, the cook should add the warm noodles to the beef broth, meat, and the remaining optional ingredients. The final step is to create a sauce to pour over the dish to enhance its flavor even more.
Creating a Sauce for Dan Dan Noodles
Those who really like their Chinese dishes hot and spicy won’t want to forgo creating a Dan Dan sauce. Some of the most common ingredients used by other cooks include:
- Sichuan peppercorns and oil
- Red chili oil
- Black vinegar
- Raw sesame and peanuts
- Soy sauce
- Red chili
- Sesame paste
Some of the ingredients will need to be stir fried while others require deep frying. After bringing all ingredients together and mixing them, the cook should pour the sauce over the noodles and other ingredients. This will increase the heat of the dish to an expected level if it has sat for a time while the cook finished all duties.
Dan Dan Noodles Are Not Usually Intended as a Full Meal
It’s important to keep in mind that the Chinese don’t consider this dish a meal. Instead, it’s often served as an appetizer in restaurants or eaten between meals by people who make it on their own. Serving the dish in a small bowl helps to preserve the spiciness and heat that has gained Dan Dan noodles worldwide acclaim.