For this week we have some lovely menu plans:
- Miso marinated pork probably simply with some wokked pak choi and steamed rice - lovely!
- Zesty chilli tiger prawns, again simply with some steamed rice.
- Something with the inariage pouches I bought.
- Spicy beef with coriander dish
But first tonight: Dan dan noodles. It’s a classic dish from the Chinese Sichuan area. Many versions exist, the authentic ones spicier than others. I use Ching He Huangs recipe who first makes a coating for the noodles which uses sesame paste (tahini), sesame oil, chicken stock, light soy sauce, sugar, vinegar and chili oil. The meat sauce is made with ground beef, garlic, ginger, rice wine and chilli bean sauce and some toasted sichuan pepper, coriander and spring onion for garnish.
Dan Dan noodles
For the meat topping
2 tbsp groundnut oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
1 tbsp freshly grated root ginger
1 medium red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (or use 3 tbsp chilli bean paste!)
250 g minced beef
1 tbsp Shaohsing rice wine
100 g cornichons / cocktail gherkins in vinegar drained and finely diced
1 tbsp light soy sauce
For the noodle base and sauce
500 g any wheat flour noodles
toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame paste / tahini blended with 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp chilli oil
1 tbsp Chinkiang black rice vinegar / balsamic vinegar
750 ml chicken stock
For the garnish
1 tsp whole Sichuan peppercorns
1 large spring onion, finely chopped
1 small handful of fresh coriander, leaves and stalks, finely chopped
1 tsp chilli oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, drain and toss them through with some sesame oil, put to one side.
2. To make the meat topping, heat the wok over a high heat and add the groundnut oil. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the minced beef. As the beef starts to turn brown, add the rice wine and cook for a few seconds. Stir in the cornichons or gherkins and cook until fragrant, then season with the soy sauce and keep on a very low heat.
3. Next, make the noodle sauce. Put the sesame paste or blended tahini, the chilli oil and vinegar into a small wok or pan, add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low.
4. Put the Sichuan peppercorns for the garnish into a small pan and dry roast until fragrant, then remove from the heat and crush in a pestle and mortar.
5. To serve divide the noodles between 4 bowls then ladle on the sauce and top with the stir-fry. Garnish with the Sichuan peppercorns, spring onion and coriander. Drizzle chilli oil over the dish, add a drizzle of sesame oil to taste around the edge of the sauce and serve immediately.
While making it, we realized we already made this dish before and did not really like it very much (very soupy and we missed a kick, see also: What Rachel Ate) so while preparing we decided to make Dan Dan noodles following this recipe instead: Dan Dan noodles by KokRobin it was delicious and used our beloved Chilli bean paste! We ended up adding 250 ml of chicken stock (for 2 people, so we halved the recipe) and decided it really did not need to simmer for 30 minutes. So we let it simmer for 20 minutes. When we were almost finished we realized we forgot to add our cornichons, forgot to buy peanuts and didn’t have any coriander so we’ll make it again sometime soon because I think the cornichons will add a nice soury sharpness.