Dan Dan Mian (Noodles)
I'm not a big fan of "semi-homemade" cooking shows because, well, when I watch cooking shows, I want to learn to make things, not learn how to throw a bunch of pre-packaged items together. However, I understand why people do it. Pre-packaged foods save a ton of time, and (confession) I am definitely guilty of using it myself.
However, being sort of a purist at heart about my recipe pages, I was sort of torn whether to put this post under "recipes" or to put it under "blog," where I would just talk about this new dan dan noodle sauce I found in Chinatown.
Some background first - dan dan noodles are originally from the Sichuan region of China and are served with pork, a spicy sauce, and pickled vegetables. For my recipe, I opted for fresh rather than pickled cabbage. The result is a lighter feel, but pickled cabbage definitely adds a great bite and the acidity does makes the dish pop. Anyhow, I decided to put the post under recipes just because sometimes, this is how people cook. Store bought sauces save time, and the Super Lucky Dan Dan Noodle Sauce at Chinatown cost me only about $2. It is spicy and sort of has this sour, cabbage-y smell to it. That being said, you can't just add it to your noodles and call it a day - it's way too spicy. I ended up mixing this sauce with a slurry of cornstarch, water, and lemon juice, because although the dan dan sauce smelled somewhat acidic, I didn't really taste it with all the spice. (A pickled vegetable would have helped with this.)
Anyways, I found that the way I prepared it really made the sauce taste more authentic and less "store-bought," which really is the goal of any semi-homemade meal...to make the meal seem 100 percent homemade and authentic without having to put in all the effort that is involved with such a meal.
A quick tip about this recipe is to not overcook the fresh wheat noodles. They really take only about 30-45 seconds to cook. If they even stay in the water slightly too long, it gets very gummy. If you want to put in the extra effort, I would say shocking the noodles in an ice bath after cooking would be a good idea.
(Serves 2-4 people)
- half pound fresh wheat noodles
- half pound ground pork
- dash of salt
- 2 cups cabbages, diced into small pieces
- 3 tablespoons dan dan noodle sauce
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch