Dan Dan Noodles

INGREDIENTS

Noodle sauce

4 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste (or unsweetened original peanut butter)
4 tablespoons light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
4 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 stalks green onion, finely minced
2 tablespoons honey (or agave syrup)
2/3 to 1 cup homemade chili oil with flakes, or to taste (*footnote 1)
1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns (*footnote 2)
Pork topping

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound (450 grams) ground pork
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 green onions, chopped
1 and 1/2 tablespoons fermented black beans, rinsed and chopped
1/2 cup Sui Mi Ya Cai (Sichuan preserved mustard greens)
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
To assemble

2 cups chicken stock, heated
1 cup roasted peanuts, crushed
10 ounces (300 grams) dried egg noodles (or 1 pound /450 grams fresh noodles)
1 small batch green leafy vegetables, roughly chopped (spinach, baby bok choy etc.)

Prepare sauce:

Whisk sesame paste and light soy sauce until fully incorporated. Add Chinkiang vinegar. Keep stirring until mixed. Then mix in garlic, green onion, and honey.
Add homemade chili oil, 1/3 cup at a time, mix and taste the sauce. Add more chili oil if you want more spiciness.

Add toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns, 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Taste while you mix, until you can taste the numbingness but can still handle it. The more chili oil you add, the more Sichuan peppercorns you need.

Prepare pork topping:

Heat oil in a skillet or a wok over medium heat until hot. Add pork; cook and stir until the surface is cooked and the meat has turned white. Turn to medium-low heat. Add ginger, green onion, fermented black beans, Sui Mi Ya Cai, cooking wine, and sugar. Cook and stir until all the liquid has evaporated and the pork turns a dark brown color. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Prepare the noodle bowl:

Cook noodles according to instructions.

Bring the chicken stock to a boil.

Briefly blanch the green leafy vegetables, drain, and set aside.

For each noodle bowl, ladle 1/4 cup heated chicken stock into the bowl. Add 1/4 cup noodle sauce and mix with the stock. Add noodles, top with a few spoonfuls of the cooked pork and some of the spinach. Garnish with peanut crumbles and chopped green onion. Sprinkle with a pinch of toasted ground Sichuan peppercorns, if you like the numbing taste.
Serve hot or cold.

Notes:

1. Do add some chili oil even if you cannot eat spicy food, because it will add aroma to the sauce and your sauce won’t end up very spicy.

2. I usually roast the Sichuan peppercorns in a bit oil until they turn dark brown. Then pat dry with paper towel and ground to powder. The oil roasted peppercorns will be less pungent and have a more roundup flavor. I prefer the cooked peppercorns in cold dishes and sauce so it won’t over power the other ingredients.

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