Sichuan Dan Dan Noodles

18. May 2016 Pasta + Noodles + Rice 0

There are a few cuisines that I crave for, and one of them is Sichuan food. This recipe looks long, but once you have your mise en place organized, you can follow my steps easily. I also substituted a few things that will be more common in your pantry. Most of the Asian ingredients here are now widely available at your store–you know, in the “Oriental” aisle–so no need to order online. You may also replace Shaoxing wine with rice vinegar, and double your soy sauce to pretend you have dark soy sauce.

Sui mi ya cai is preserved mustard greens that you have to buy at the Asian market, but it’s optional for this dish even though it provides a nice sourness and crunch to the dish. Once you buy it though, I guarantee you’ll put it on everything you eat. I also used spaghetti noodles here because the “white noodles” I find in Chinatown are simply called that; I have no idea what they really are. So to avoid confusion, just use spaghetti.

For the chili oil:
2 tbsps Sichuan peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
1 cup canola oil
1/4 cup red pepper flakes

For the meat:
3 tsps canola oil
half-pound ground pork
2 tsps hoisin sauce
2 tsps Shaoxing wine
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp five spice powder
1/3 cup sui mi ya cai, or preserved mustard greens

For the sauce:
2 tbsps tahini sauce
3 tbsps soy sauce
2 tsps sugar
1/4 tsp five spice powder
1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, grounded
1/2 cup of your prepared chili oil
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced

For the rest:
1 lb spaghetti noodles
1 bunch of spinach or bok choy
scallions, roughly chopped

1. Make the chili oil. In a small pot, add the Sichuan peppercorns, cinnamon stick, star anise, and oil. Over medium low heat, slowly heat to 325 degrees, and then turn off the heat. Steep for about 5 minutes, then remove the peppercorns, cinnamon stick, and star anise with a slotted spoon. Mix in the crushed red pepper flakes and allow them to steep in the hot oil. Allow the oil to cool. Set aside and store in a glass jar and keep refrigerated.
2. Make the meat mixture. In a large Dutch oven, heat a teaspoon of oil over medium heat and brown the ground pork. Add the hoisin sauce, Shaoxing wine, dark soy sauce, and five spice powder. (Add the preserved mustard greens here if using.) Cook until all the liquid is evaporated and remove to a plate.
3. Cook the noodles according to package directions and drain. Save the water for the sauce and to blanch the greens. Set aside.
4. Make the sauce. Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust by adding more of the noodle water to thin it out if you like.
4. Assemble. Divide the sauce among four serving bowls. Add noodles. Top with the greens. Add the pork. Let your guests mix everything with chopsticks.