Dan dan noodles were originally sold by street vendors who carried their ingredients and stoves in baskets hanging from a dan (bamboo shoulder pole). They would sell a portion of noodles and ladle over each ingredient in the sauce separately, which would then be mixed by the customer. This dish is quite spicy as it is, but if you like it hot, drizzle over extra chilli oil to serve.
- 1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns*
- 250 g minced pork
- 60 g (½ cup) pickled mustard greens*, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
- 4 dried chillies, seeded, halved lengthwise
- 3 spring onions, finely chopped, plus extra, to serve
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp sesame paste or tahini
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp chilli oil sauce*
- 500 g Shanghai noodles or other fresh flour (wheat) noodles*
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Toast peppercorns in a small frying pan over low heat for 1 minute or until fragrant; take care not to let them burn. Using a mortar and pestle, grind until crushed. Using your hands, mix pork with crushed peppercorns, mustard greens and 1 tbsp light soy until combined.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok over high heat. Add chillies and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add pork mixture and brown, breaking up lumps, for 4 minutes or until slightly crisp. Transfer to a bowl. Keep warm.
Wipe wok clean. Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add sesame paste, remaining 1 tbsp light soy, dark soy, chilli oil and 250 ml water. Cook, stirring, for a further 2 minutes or until sauce thickens.
Meanwhile, cook noodles according to the packet instructions and drain. Divide among bowls, and spoon over sauce and pork mixture. Scatter with extra spring onions to serve.
* Sichuan peppercorns are the dried red-brown berries from an ash tree and are known to have a slight mouth-numbing effect. They are available from selected delis and Asian food shops.
* Pickled mustard greens, also known as preserved mustard greens, are made from the stems of a variety of mustard green. They are sun-dried, rubbed in salt and spices, and are available from Asian food shops in cryovacked packets. Buy them preserved in chilli if possible.
* Chilli oil sauce, from Asian food shops, consists of chilli flakes, chilli oil and spices. Substitute 2 tsp chilli flakes in 1 tbsp chilli oil.
* Shanghai noodles are available in the refrigerated section of Asian food shops.
DRINK Lucky Beer, China ($13 for a six-pack)
As seen in Feast magazine, Issue 10, pg68.
Photography by Derek Swalwell.