Asian Dinner Recipes Take Out Winter

Dan Dan Noodles ~ Easy Weeknight Recipe




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a bowl of dan dan noodles on a white table

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 :)

Dan dan noodle bowl with chopsticks

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.

a bowl of Dan Dan Noodles with chopsticks

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!

baby bok choy and scallions, sliced

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.

PANTRY INGREDIENTS

  • 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)
  • Peanuts

FRESH INGREDIENTS

  • Ground pork, 8 ounces
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Scallions
  • Baby bok choy (substitute spinach, watercress)

Asian wheat noodles in white bowls

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

spicy sauce for dan dan noodles

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 noodle bowl with baby bok choy and peanuts

a bowl of dan dan noodles on a white table
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4.82 from 16 votes

Dan Dan Noodles

Dan Dan Noodles ~ Easy Weeknight Recipe!  Spicy Asian noodles, a rich creamy sauce, crispy pork, and barely wilted greens ~ your regular dinner just got bumped up to first class :)
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese/American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Yield 4 servings

Ingredients

Pork

  • 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

Sauce

  • 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

veggies

  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced in half legnthwise
  • 2 or 3 baby bok choy, trimmed and sliced lengthwise

garnish

  • chopped peanuts

Instructions

  • 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 :)

Dan dan noodle bowl pin

 

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19 Comments

    Leave a Reply

  • Reply
    Jan English Leary
    March 8, 2020 at 3:36 pm

    5 stars
    We loved this dish. So good that my husband wanted me to remake it as soon as we were done with it. The sauce is awesome. I used ground turkey instead of pork and it was delicious. This is a definite keeper.

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 8, 2020 at 3:49 pm

      Good to know it works with turkey, I was tempted to try that. Thanks Jan :)

  • Reply
    Mary Younkin
    March 5, 2020 at 3:05 pm

    Sue! I have been obsessed with ordering Dan Dan Noodles lately when we go out and was planning to play with recipes for it soon. I’m giddy to try your recipe! (Thanks for saving me the work!)

  • Reply
    2 sisters recipes
    February 25, 2020 at 7:53 pm

    I have never made Dan Dan Noodles and this is so simple! Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  • Reply
    Libby
    February 25, 2020 at 7:32 am

    5 stars
    Hi Sue, I ran out to our Asian grocery chain (H-Mart) yesterday and bought all the ingredients for the Dan-Dan noodles. I followed your recipe–almost– to the letter and it was delicious. One question I had was what kind of chili oil did you use? The only thing I could find was Chiu Chow style chili oil by Lee Kum Kee, which is what is similar to the very spicy condiment served with dim sum in our local Chinese restaurant. So I scaled back the amount in the recipe from 1/3 cup to around 1/8 cup and the dish was quite spicy. I think using more of this product would be way too much, but maybe you used something different.

    I will definitely make this again, but I’ll up the amount of vegetables, more bok choy, maybe some sauteed red bell pepper, etc. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 25, 2020 at 9:05 am

      Love that you ran out and made this Libby, that was just what I was hoping for. I used Sun Luck Chili Oil, the only one my store carried. Mine is spicy to the taste, but not overpowering. This dish is actually supposed to be quite spicy in it’s authentic form, but everyone experiences spicy heat differently, so it’s really important to taste as you go, you did it just right.

  • Reply
    Erin
    February 24, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Sue, first of all I have made quite a few of your recipes and have found them all delightful. I sometimes cook for a vegetarian/pescatarian. What would you suggest as a substitute for the pork? Thank you.

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 24, 2020 at 5:27 pm

      Great question because I’ve been thinking about variations myself…you might try tofu, although you won’t get the same crunch factor, and you might try shrimp.

  • Reply
    guy23
    February 24, 2020 at 11:53 am

    5 stars
    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Dan Dan noodles – but way too much work: til now! Thank you, Sue!!!!!!!!!!

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 24, 2020 at 3:14 pm

      Actually I’d never had them before this and now I’m completely obsessed.

  • Reply
    Heidy McCallum
    February 24, 2020 at 8:38 am

    5 stars
    This is such a super simple recipe for Dan Dan noodles, I’m looking forward to making it!

  • Reply
    Marie-Charlotte Chatelain
    February 24, 2020 at 8:36 am

    5 stars
    Woah this is simple! And I have most ingredients at home! LOVE LOVE – this will be tried!

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 24, 2020 at 8:44 am

      I now have the sauce ingredients lined up like little soldiers in the door of my fridge, ready and waiting :)

  • Reply
    Angela Allison
    February 24, 2020 at 8:35 am

    5 stars
    I am obsessed with these dan dan noodles! So delicious and easy to make. Love this recipe!

  • Reply
    George M
    February 24, 2020 at 8:14 am

    5 stars
    I’ve wanted to make dan dan noodles before but every time I looked up a recipe I got scared off by how complicated it all seemed, leave it to you Sue to solve that problem, THANK YOU!

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 24, 2020 at 8:14 am

      My pleasure :)

  • Reply
    Jen
    February 24, 2020 at 8:10 am

    5 stars
    I seriously wanted to lick the bowl clean because the sauce is Ah-Mazing! Loved it!

  • Reply
    Erika
    February 24, 2020 at 8:01 am

    5 stars
    The flavors in this dish are amazing!

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 24, 2020 at 8:04 am

      My husband (who only had one bite mind you) and I agreed the flavors in the sauce were so unique, I’m making this part of my regular dinner rotation for sure :)