Hurrah for my first recipe from the Food and Wine Festival!
I was pretty on the fence about doing this recipe. It calls for peanut butter and with two peanut allergies in the house, plus the fact that I can’t remember the last time I’ve even had any peanut butter, I just didn’t know how it’d work out.
I came this close to shelving the recipe all together. But then I happened upon the history of dan dan noodles, and knowing how big of a sucker I am for recipes with a story, I had to make it.
Apparently dan dan noodles (or dandanmian) is a classic Sichuan dish that is sold by street vendors. Because the dish is so easy and cheap to make, even the poorest of people could afford to make and sell the dish at a profit.
They’d carry in baskets, carried by a stick, or dandan, with the soup in one basket and the noodles in the other. Literally translated, it means beggar’s noodles.
The dish has changed a lot and can vary wildly depending on where it’s served. In China, the noodles are frequently served in a very spicy broth with shaved pork on top.
In the US interpretation of the dish, it’s traditionally served with no sauce, sometimes with curry paste instead of sesame paste, and is a lot less spicy. It’s also served either hot or cold.
The Food and Wine recipe is an interesting mix of American and Chinese influenced. They prepare it with spice, so it has a zip, and sesame paste instead of curry paste.
However, they also serve it cool, with no sauce, and adding peanut butter or paste, which is very much the American interpretation of the dish. I personally thought it was quite interesting to taste… It certainly had quite unexpected flavors, not at all what I’m used to in a noodle dish.
Not being a fan of peanut butter, next time I’d leave it out and again double the amount of sauce used (I love my sauce), and I think that would make the dish perfect.
And, surprisingly, it wasn’t bad at all served cold! Maybe it’s just me though, I still preferred it slightly while warmed. And, again, I forgot to top it with green onions…
Which is probably for the best since my green onions were looking a little sad. Believe it or not, the ingredients for this dish look exotic, but I was actually able to find all of them in a regular grocery store and can be purchased in relatively inexpensive sizes.
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Dan Dan Noodles
As is served at The Food and Wine Festival, China, EPCOT
- 8 ounces dan dan (lo mein) noodles
- Green onions, for garnish, optional
- 1 teaspoon smooth peanut butter
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame paste
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- Sugar, to taste (about 1-2 teaspoons)
- Fresh ginger juice (or grated ginger), to taste (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 cube chicken bouillon
- 1 teaspoon chili oil
- 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorn oil
Cook the pasta in lightly salted water. When done, drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the water. Set aside (using a small amount of sesame oil to toss the pasta, to prevent it from sticking, if desired… Though I strongly suggest this).
Combine all ingredients for the sauce in the saucepan used for the noodles, adding the broth from the pasta. Cook over medium heat until the sauce darkens and reduces, the chicken bouillon dissolves, and the peanut butter breaks up and both full incorporate into the sauce. Pour over chilled noodles and toss until sauce coats all of the noodles evenly.
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