Dan dan mian is a Szechwan/Sichuan noodle dish, and it could very well be one of my favorite vegan/vegetarian dishes. It’s a really quick fix, great for a lunch buffet (the diners get to “make” their own food!). You could even take it on a picnic since it uses cold noodles, though I sometimes enjoy this warm too. As with most noodle recipes, there are a number of variations you can try. I like this very basic one, without meat. I’ve seen images on Google with some sort of red broth, but I’ve only ever had it mostly dry in Szechwanese restaurants.
For 4-6 servings, you need
Ginger-garlic water: Puree 1/4 cup minced garlic with 2 tablespoons minced ginger and 1 teaspoon salt, then mixed well with 1/3 cup water, you’ll need about 1-2 tablespoons of this mixture per serving.
Red Pepper Flakes in Oil: Heat 1/4 cup cooking oil in a small saucepan. When oil is very hot, sprinkle in 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes. They should sizzle when they touch the oil. Remove from heat immediately and let sit for several minutes before using. You will need 1-2 teaspoons of this mixture per serving.
Chinese sesame seed paste, about 2 tablespoons per serving.
Scallions, chopped finely, you’ll need a tablespoon or so per serving.
Szechwan peppercorns, dry-roasted in a skillet then ground in a mortar and pestle, a really big pinch per serving
Fresh chinese noodles, the ones that I used are whole wheat noodles from a company in Illinois, cooked in rapidly boiling water for 4 minutes, then drained and rinsed in cold water to stop the cooking. Toss with a bit of oil.
Soy sauce to taste
Sugar to taste
Chopped peanuts (optional)
Julienned or shredded cucumbers (optional)
All that’s left now is assembling the dish. Each diner gets himself a serving of noodles and toppings, adding soy sauce and sugar to taste plus the optional toppings. This is how mine looks!