Last Updated on February 1, 2022
Satisfy your spice cravings by slurping up these mouthwatering and nutty noodles for a quick meal. Dan dan noodles, which originated in Sichuan, China, are named after the traditional poles that street vendors use to hold up bowls of noodles and sauce on their backs. This recipe can be made with ground pork or ground chicken.
A serving of dan dan noodles comes with a creamy sauce (made with sesame paste or tahini), hearty proteins, and refreshing garnishes. Whatever you do, don’t forget this recipe’s essential ingredient: Sichuan peppercorns. This spice, a foundational ingredient in Sichuan dishes such as mapo tofu and dan dan noodles, adds an addictive tingle to every bite that will leave you wanting more.
Homemade chili oil:
- 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup neutral oil peanut, safflower, or canola
- ¼ cup crushed red pepper flakes
For the noodles:
- 1 pound fresh or dried wheat flour noodles
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- ½ pound ground pork or ground chicken
- 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
- 2 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste (or substitute with tahini)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and finely grated
- ¼ cup hot water
- 1 cup leafy green vegetables like bok choy or spinach
- 2 scallion stalks chopped
- sesame seeds
- Sichuan chili peppercorn powder finely ground with spice grinder or mortar and pestle
For the chili oil:
- Add the Sichuan peppercorns, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, star anise, and oil to a small pot. Heat up the oil until its temperature is consistently between 310-325°F. Let the oil bubble slowly for 10 minutes.
- Measure out the crushed red pepper flakes into a heat-resistant bowl. Pour the oil into the bowl while straining the other ingredients. Set aside chili oil to cool.
For the noodles and sauce:
- Cook and drain noodles according to package directions.
- While you're waiting for the noodle water to boil, heat a wok or skillet over medium-high heat and add peanut oil. When the oil shimmers, toss in the ground pork. Stir fry the meat until brown, 4 to 5 minutes, then add the hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and Shaoxing wine. Cook for 2-3 minutes longer and set aside.
- Add sesame paste, soy sauce, sugar, and garlic into a bowl along with 1/2 cup chili oil and mix generously. Add 1/4 cup hot water (use the pasta water if the timing works) and stir until combined.
- In a small bowl, add ¼ cup of the dan dan sauce and the ground pork. Stir in the already cooked noodles and leafy greens. Top with sesame seeds, scallions, and Sichuan chili peppercorn powder.
Jess Eng is a freelance writer, food zine and cookbook author, and data visualization enthusiast from San Francisco, CA. Her work and recipes have been published in The Washington Post, NPR, Atlas Obscura, and KQED. You can find her on Twitter @jessicaeng17