Weeknight Dan Dan Noodles (Just like Take-out)
Learn how to make Dan Dan noodles that take just like your favorite take-out joint! This the perfect weeknight dinner to throw together on a rainy or cold night. Make it with ground beef, chicken, turkey, or whatever else you like!
It’s comfort food Monday!
And I know that’s not really a thing, but someone, please start a petition because it should be. The hardest day of the week definitely deserves a big bowl of homemade Dan Dan noodles.
I’ll admit, come Mondays, we’re down to the bare bones in the refrigerator. A knob of butter, a few cloves of garlic, scallions that are taking their last breathes, a jar of minced ginger, and maybe, if I’m lucky, a limp box of spinach begging to be cooked. Mondays are the day I play catchup. Clean out the refrigerator, use the sad leftover carrots and celery to make a homemade stock that I let simmer all day. I’ll also run to the store to stock up on groceries for the weekly recipes I’ll be making and testing. Don’t be fooled though; I make grocery store runs during the week too.
Oddly enough, even though I shop on Mondays, I tend to use up the stuff that was in the refrigerator before shopping. Probably because I’m OCD and need to use the old stuff first before breaking into the new food. So Dan Dan Noodles are often a weeknight staple for us because this recipe uses mostly pantry ingredients.
If you’re new around here, you should know, I absolutely love making take-out food at home. Have you tried my Hawaiian shrimp scampi, Indian butter chicken, or my Thai basil chicken? What about my homemade Panang curry, or cashew chicken?
I kid you not; I spend 50% of my time coming up with homemade versions of my takeout favorites. And the other 50%? Well, that’s spent turning classics into meatball versions of themselves, check here for a whole lot of proof.
If you’ve never had Dan Dan noodles (or dandanmian as it’s known) is a Sichuan noodle dish that can be served dry (sort of like a stir fry) or as a noodle soup bowl. I kept it somewhere in the middle there, where you can certainly sip the broth with a soup spoon, but ,there’s also tons of chewy noodles and meat to enjoy with your chopsticks!
What do you need to make the meat mixture for the Dan Dan noodles?
- ground chicken
- minced garlic
- minced ginger
- low sodium soy sauce
- white pepper
- oil, for cooking
Can I use something other than ground chicken to make Dan Dan noodles?
Yes, absolutely! You can use ground turkey, ground pork, or ground beef to make Dan Dan noodles as well.
Where did you find the Sichuan peppercorn powder for these Dan Dan noodles?
I had a really tough time finding Sichuan peppercorns in the U.S a few years ago, so I would stop by this glorious spice market in Toronto every time we visited (husband is from here, so ,we were there at least once a year) and I’d bring them back. In recent years, I’ve been able to find them at my favorite Asian grocery stores and also online. They are pretty reasonably priced online if you purchase them whole and then just grind them in a coffee or spice grinder at home!
TIP: if you buy the whole peppercorns, I suggest grinding them fresh before using them in a recipe.
What kind of noodles should I use?
I prefer to use yakisoba noodles for this noodle dish, but you could also use thick udon noodles (like these) or even spaghetti if you can’t find the other noodles I suggested.
What do you need to make the sauce for the Dan Dan noodles?
- tahini paste
- rice vinegar
- Chinese chili oil
- low sodium soy sauce
- hoisin sauce
- ground Sichuan peppercorn powder
- chicken stock
Deally use tahini when you’re making Dan Dan noodles?
Normally, Dan Dan noodles are made with Chinese sesame paste. It is a thick brown paste that’s nutty and almost a cross between tahini paste and peanut butter. Tahini paste and Chinese sesame paste are not the same thing. Chinese sesame paste is made from toasted sesame seeds whereas tahini is usually made from untoasted (or lightly toasted) sesame seeds.
However, for this recipe, tahini paste (which is way easier to find) works just fine. You can, of course, use sesame paste (it will undoubtedly yield even better results) if you’d like, and it is available here to purchase.
What kind of chili oil do I ned to make Dan Dan Noodles?
The chili oil used in this recipe is the kind that’s used in a lot of Asian cuisines. The chili oil usually contains red pepper flakes along with Sichuan peppercorn powder and star anise. There are tons of recipes online that you can find to make chili oil at home if you’d like to make it from scratch. Most grocery stores do carry chili oil in the international food aisle, but you can also purchase it online if you have a difficult time finding it in stores.
How to make the sauce for Dan Dan Noodles
It’s the easiest thing to make the Dan Dan noodle sauce! Just stir the tahini sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, Chinese chili oil, soy sauce, and ground peppercorn powder together in a bowl. Then, when the meat mixture is almost done cooking, we’ll add in the sauce to amp up the flavors of the Dan Dan noodles.
Let’s put these Dan Dan noodles together
- Prepare the noodles according to package directions while the meat mixture is marinating.
- Once you’ve marinated the meat mixture, you’ll add a tablespoon of oil to a hot pan and then cook and crumble the chicken or ground meat until it cooks for roughly 5 minutes. Then, add the prepared Dan Dan noodle sauce and allow the sauce to evenly coat them and cook a bit.
- Once the sauce and meat mixture have combined, pour the chicken stock along the side of the pan so that it just pours into the bottom without touching too much of the meat. You basically want it just to heat through and pick up some of the flavors from the meat. Allow the chicken stock to heat through, and then you’re pretty much ready to serve!
I know this recipe needs a few ingredients if you don’t make Asian food at home very often, but oh please, do give these Dan Dan Noodles a try. They are a flavor explosion in your mouth in the most addicting way!
- 14 ounces ground chicken (turkey, pork, or beef work too)
- 6 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon EACH: minced ginger, low sodium soy sauce AND oil (high heat)
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- 3 tablespoons tahini paste
- 2 tablespoons EACH: sugar, rice vinegar AND fried chili in oil (see notes)
- ¼ cup EACH: low sodium soy sauce AND hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 cups chicken stock, for noodles (divided)
- 24 ounces Yakisoba, or thick udon noodles cooked according to package directions
- 3 scallions, chopped
- GROUND MEAT: Combine the ingredients for the meat marinade in a bowl (except the meat and the oil) then stir in the meat until just mixed, set aside while you prep the sauce and some of the remaining ingredients.
- SAUCE: In a small bowl, stir together the tahini sauce, chili oil, sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin, and Sichuan peppercorn. Stir and set the sauce aside for now.
- COOK: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil to the skillet and the ground meat mixture and cook for roughly 5 minutes crumbling the meat so it browns and cooks. Add the prepared sauce from step #2. Stir and continue to cook until the sauce coats the ground meat and has a chance to reduce. Then, pour in the chicken stock along the side of the pan so it just pools at the bottom of the pot without touching too much of the meat. You basically want it to just heat through and pick up some of the flavors from the meat. Let simmer and allow for it to cook and thicken, about 5 minutes.
- SERVE: Divide the noodles into bowls, spoon the Dan Dan meat mixture over the noodles (along with the broth.) Top with scallions and serve.
- Fried chili in oil is also called Chinese chili oil. It is the sauce you get if you’ve ever had Chinese food from a mall food court. It’s red pepper flakes in oil with other flavors. The amount listed does make it a bit spicy, but you can always use less if you’d like! Purchase is online here.