A Beginner’s Guide to Dan Dan Noodles

We blog about this recipe here.

A Beginner's Guide to Dan Dan Noodles

Borrowing ideas from Grace Young (aka TheStirFryGuru), Fuchsia Dunlop, author of Sichuan Cookery, and from ChatGPT, I have come up with the following as a beginning point for perfecting a Dan Dan noodle recipe. Do as Grace does and make it to taste; no rigid recipe required!

The pork topping:

  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 8 – 12 oz ground pork
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1-2 tsp minced ginger (optional)
  • about 1/3 c zha cai (aka suimiyacai or za choi) – pickled mustard stems – or Tianjin preserved vegetables (optional – but not really, if you want authentic)
  • Diamond kosher salt to taste

The sauce:

  • 2-4 T Chinese sesame paste – or tahini (Grace recommends The Mala Market Sesame Paste)
  • 2 T soy sauce (Grace recommends 1 T regular and 1 T dark soy sauce)
  • 1-3 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
  • 1-2 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 – 2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, crushed – definitely NOT optional (Grace, with her Cantonese pallet, prefers just 1 tsp)
  • 1 T – 4 T Chinese chili oil -start with 1 T – or even less – and add, cautiously, to taste (Grace recommends Blank Slate Sichuan Chili Oil – also sold at Mala Market or here)
  • 1 T black (Chinkiang) vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar (optional)
  • Diamond kosher salt to taste

The noodles:

  • 1 lb wheat noodles (fresh and thin-ish are preferred but not required; if using dry noodles, I’d suggest about 3/4 of a pound.)
  • several big handfuls of spinach

To serve:

Crushed unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts and thinly-sliced scallions (optional)


In a wok or large frying pan add the oil over medium high heat, add the oil, then the ground pork, ginger, and soy sauce, and cook and stir until browned and fully cooked. Add the zha cai and stir and fry just long enough to heat. Add salt to taste.

Combine the sesame paste, soy sauce, garlic and sugar (which are optional), Sichuan pepper, chili oil, and vinegar. Add a little hot water if you need to make the paste runnier. Taste and add a little salt, if needed.

Cook the noodles according to the package directions, stirring in the spinach the last minute or so, then drain.

Divide the sauce evenly between 4 individual bowls; top with noodles and then with the pork mixture. Sprinkle peanuts and scallions on each bowl, and serve, allowing each diner to mix up the ingredients in their own bowl, the Sichuan way.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

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