This is the easy 30 minute edition of Dan Dan Noodles ~ spicy Asian noodles in a rich creamy sauce, topped with crispy pork and barely wilted greens ~ your regular dinner just got bumped up to first class :)
My poor husband only got a bite of these amazing noodles…I commandeered the whole batch for myself and I feel a little sheepish about it, but, honestly, these dan dan noodles are one of the best things I’ve ever made. Like ever. The combination of flavors and textures in this dish is extraordinary. I’m ordering you to make them as soon as you possibly can. They only take 30 minutes. And you won’t be sorry.
Dan dan noodles are a classic Chinese Sichuan street food
The name refers to long poles that street vendors carried across their shoulders, with a pot of noodles on one side, and sauce on the other. Because it comes from such humble roots, there is no one official recipe for dan dan noodles, and that makes it a fun dish to play around with. The basic idea is noodles served with crispy ground pork, wilted greens, and a chili oil based sauce.
I’ve simplified authentic dan dan noodles for everyday cooking
Authentic Chinese dan dan noodles are time consuming to make, and require hard to find ingredients. I’ve subbed in dried noodles for fresh, prepared chili oil for the homemade version, and left out the pickled veggies you can only find in Asian markets. My recipe maintains the essentials of the dish, and it’s absolutely delicious. Seriously you need to make them.
The flavors are there, even though the process is straightforward and super quick
It’s all about the sauce: it’s creamy and spicy, the noodles: they have a wonderful firm texture, and the pork: it’s cooked until crisp and bacon-y. The final shower of scallions and crunchy peanuts is sheer perfection.
30 minute meals don’t have to be wimpy!
This one is proof you can get gutsy, authentic flavor in a short time.
- Ground pork cooks quickly in a hot skillet with some spices
- While the pork cooks, whisk together the sauce and set a pot of water to boil.
- The noodles cook in a a flash, then add the greens just before you drain the pot, they only need a dunk in the boiling water.
- Layer your bowls, toss, and eat!
Grocery list for weeknight dan dan noodles
All of these ingredients should be available in your large grocery store, just head to the Asian food section for the sauces and noodles, then hit the spice aisle for a couple of spices. Once you’ve got the pantry staples you’re set not only for this meal, but for many more to come.
- Hoisin sauce ~ it’s a thick, dark umami sauce made from fermented soybeans, sometimes called Chinese barbecue sauce.
- Mirin, a Japanese rice wine
- Soy sauce, I like Tamari
- Five spice powder ~ a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechwan peppercorns. Some blends will include ginger, nutmeg, and licorice.
- Sichuan peppercorns (these are sort of key, so if you can’t find them, you can order from Amazon, here.)
- Chili oil ~ a chili infused oil, used as a condiment
- Tahini ~ a sesame paste (you can substitute peanut butter)
- Asian noodles, dried (you can choose any style you like, I used Japanese ramen noodles)
- Ground pork, 8 ounces
- Baby bok choy (substitute spinach, watercress)
Let’s talk noodles
- This dish is made with Chinese wheat and egg noodles. Fresh is traditional, but dried is more practical.
- Many types of Asian noodles can be used, depending on what you can find, so don’t stress over it.
- Look for straight, cylindrical noodles, sort of like a thin spaghetti. They’ll be in the Asian section of your store, right by the sauces and condiments.
- If you are eating gluten free, try rice noodles.
- Could you use thin spaghetti in a pinch? Sure (I did it in my Spicy Thai Spaghetti Salad) just don’t over cook them, you want an al dente texture.
- For everything you ever wanted to know about Asian noodles, check out my 15 Lucky Noodle Bowl Recipes
Good news ~ leftover dan dan noodles reheat beautifully, right in the microwave.
Noodles and pasta are notorious for not making good leftovers, but these Asian noodles are the exception. Is there anything better at the end of a long day than knowing there’s a completely cooked delicious dinner in the fridge just waiting to be nuked?
Tips for success:
I don’t always say this, but this dish is perfect as is. I recommend you make it exactly as written before fiddling with the recipe.
- Cook the pork until truly crispy. You should have lots of browned bits sticking to the pan and it will taste almost like bacon.
- After removing the pork from the pan, add a good splash of noodle cooking water to the pan and scrape up all the flavor. You can mix the sauce right in the same pan to save extra dishes.
- As written this recipe isn’t overly spicy, trust me. It’s got just the right amount of heat to be exciting but not overwhelming. But when it comes to hot spices, always taste as you go and adjust if necessary.
- Don’s skip the Sichuan peppercorns!
Dan Dan Noodles
- 1 tsp cooking oil
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 2 tsp Hoisin sauce
- 2 tsp Mirin
- 1 tsp Tamari soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp five spice powder
- 2 Tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp five spice powder
- 1/2 tsp ground sichuan peppercorns (I did this in my coffee/spice grinder)
- 1/3 cup chili oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced in half legnthwise
- 2 or 3 baby bok choy, trimmed and sliced lengthwise
- chopped peanuts
- Set a large pot of water to boil on the stove.
- Put the oil in a skillet and heat on medium high. Brown the pork, breaking it apart into crumbles as it cooks. When it has cooked through, add the Hoisin, Mirin, soy and spice powder and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated and the meat is nice and crispy. Remove the meat to a plate.
- Cook the noodles according to the package instructions, this is usually just a few minutes. At the last minute, add the greens to the boiling water. Reserve about a cup of the cooking water, then drain.
- Add 1/3 cup of the cooking water to the pork skillet, and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom, off the heat. Add the sauce ingredients and whisk to combine. Note: you're not cooking the sauce, just mixing it. Taste to adjust any of the ingredients to your liking. Add a little more noodle water if you like it thinner. Divide the sauce equally between 4 bowls.
- Top the sauce with the noodles and wilted veggies. Then spoon the crispy pork over top.
- Garnish with chopped peanuts. Toss the noodles with the sauce before eating.
- Come back and tell me how much you LOVED this :)