So I spent 6 weeks in Shanghai, China for a study abroad program back in school. It was easily the best 6 weeks of my life and I got to try some pretty amazing food while I was out there. Only then, did I first get to try and realize what Sichuan food was really like. Shanghai is not in the Sichuan province, but in China, they have region specific restaurants all over and you can experience foods from the different provinces when you’re in a big city.
Anyway, what I’m trying to get across… I went to a Sichuan restaurant and my mind was blown. Sichuan food uses hua jiao, the Sichuan peppercorn, which gives Sichuan food it’s tingly, numbing mouthfeel. Not only did I become addicted to hua jiao, I also became addicted to Sichuan dishes such as dan dan mian (a spicy noodle dish) and mapo doufu (a spicy tofu dish). The entire time I was there, I couldn’t get over that the Chinese food served in the US is nowhere near as awesome as the food in China. Within weeks of being back in the US, I was China obsessed and craved some of the food I was eating just weeks ago. Luckily, I stumbled across Fuchsia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty and ordered it immediately.
hua jiao, sichuan peppercorn
Back in college, I cooked a lot from this book and her Hunan cookbook, Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook
. I learned a bunch about the ingredients used in Sichuan and Hunan dishes and had many fantastic meals. Unfortunately, I haven’t been making Chinese food as of late. No real reason, I just kind of forgot about it I guess. Luckily, I had a hankering for dan dan mian the other day and I pulled out Land of Plenty and came up with a recipe which is kind of a mix between two of the dan dan mian recipes she has in her book.
some of the ingredients you may need (clockwise from bottom: noodles, scallions, sesame paste, shaoxing, peanut oil, chili oil, sesame oil, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, ground roasted sichuan peppercorn)
Dan Dan Mian 擔擔麵
Adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty
-1 lb. chinese noodles (I like to use Twin Marquis lo mein noodles
-6 scallions, chopped
ingredients for meat
-1 tbsp peanut oil
-1/2 tsp ground roasted hua jiao
-4 oz ground beef
-2 tsp light soy sauce
-1 tsp shaoxing
ingredients for sauce
-1 tsp ground roasted hua jiao (can be adjusted to spice preference)
-1/4 tsp salt
-4 tsp sesame paste
-1 tbsp light soy sauce
-1 tbsp dark soy sauce
-2 tbsp chili oil
Before you start, make sure you have everything ready to go. When you cook in a wok, you have to move quickly, so it’s important everything is at hand.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Let this come to a boil while you follow the next steps. Do NOT place the noodles in the water until you’re done making the sauce.
Heat up the peanut oil over med-high heat in a wok. Just before it starts to smoke, toss the hua jiao in and stir fry quickly until fragrant. Immediately add the ground beef followed by the shaoxing. Once the meat has been separated, add the soy sauce. Stir fry until a little crispy, but not dry. Set aside when finished.
Next, whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a medium sized bowl until smooth. Make sure the sesame paste is no longer clumpy. Take about half of the scallions and toss them in the bowl. The result should look similar to this:
Once the sauce is finished, place the noodles into the water and cook for about 4-5 minutes. Drain noodles and immediately place into the bowl with the sauce. Top with ground beef.
At restaurants, the dish is served like so, sauce on the bottom, noodles, and topped with the meat. Of course, you have to stir it all up. This is why I use the large bowl. It can get messy if it’s placed in a smaller bowl.
dan dan mian
Once mixed all together, sprinkle remaining scallions on top.
This dish keeps me sane between visits to Han Dynasty.
Tagged: chinese, cookbook, cooking, noodles, sichuan, spicy