Monday, 21 March 2016

Dan Dan DAAAAAN!


By: Mrs Robot

I've had a real craving for noodles all of a sudden. I'm not sure why - maybe the coming of spring has put me in a mood for lighter foods than my winter pies and stews. It was a good excuse to revisit some favourite old cookbooks. Given what we had in the kitchen, Dan Dan Mian from Mi Mi Aye's book Noodle! seemed like a good plan.

We'd made Ching-He Huang's recipe for Dan Dan Noodles some time ago, but it wasn't quite our thing. However, her recipe uses tahini paste and Mi Mi's doesn't, plus Mi Mi's seems to use a lot more spicy ingredients, so I thought I'd give it a go and see if we liked her version any better.

As with so many recipes in Noodle!, while the list of ingredients seems long, a quick read of the recipe reveals that the process for making Dan Dan Mian is actually very simple. You can't just start and throw in ingredients as you go along, you need to get everything ready in advance, but as long as you do that, it's very easy to make the dish. Most of the ingredients are store cupboard staples: soy sauce, black vinegar, xiaoxing wine and so on. The only thing we didn't have was Szechuan preserved vegetables. I don't know what those taste like, so subbed in some of Mr Robot's homemade kimchi as that was preserved, vegetable, and tasty.

("Oh, we just substituted homemade kimchi." How poncy does that sound?)

We both very much enjoy Szechuan peppercorns. They have a fearsome reputation, which they really don't deserve. They're numbing, not burning. Chillies make me hiccup, but I can eat those peppercorns with no problems (I occasionally chew them raw, straight out of the jar). Mi Mi's recipe began with oil seasoned with a whole tablespoon of the things, and only got better from there. The resulting minced pork sauce was rich and dark with soy sauce, spicy with Szechuan peppercorns, then stirred by each diner through bland, delicious noodles.
We could quite easily have eaten twice as much, not because the portions are small but because it is delicious and we are greedy. Ziggy, one of our two feral kittens, came along and tried to help himself, but was shunted off pronto.

I will definitely be making this again.

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