Dan dan mian

Dan dan mian

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

Once upon a time, the streets of Chengdu rang with the cries of snack sellers, including the dan dan noodle man (the name comes from the shoulder pole used to balance the baskets carrying the sauce and noodles). Alas, those days are long gone and the city has rushed headlong into complete modernity. Luckily, there’s still a ton of character in her denizens ... and in the food. Such dishes may not be found on the street anymore, but they’re still very much a part of the dining fabric.


Quantity Ingredient
3 teaspoons sichuan peppercorns
2 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
50g tianjin preserved vegetables, rinsed and dried
200g minced pork
2 teaspoons shaoxing rice wine
80ml light soy sauce
80ml Strained chilli oil
1 tablespoon black rice vinegar
4 spring onions, finely sliced, green part only
600g fresh, thin egg noodles


  1. Dry-roast the peppercorns in a small, heavy-based frying pan over a medium–low heat, shaking the pan often, for 3–4 minutes, or until fragrant. Cool, then transfer to a mortar (or an electric spice grinder) and pound with the pestle to form a coarse powder. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil in a wok over a medium–high heat, then add the preserved vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in the wok, then add the pork and stir-fry over a high heat for 2 minutes, or until browned. Add the rice wine and 1½ tablespoons of the soy sauce and cook, stirring constantly, for another 5 minutes, or until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Remove the pork from the wok and add to the bowl with the preserved vegetables. Add the remaining soy sauce, the chilli oil, vinegar and spring onions to the bowl and toss to combine well.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the noodles in a saucepan of boiling water for 2–3 minutes (or according to the packet instructions), or until softened, then drain. Divide the noodles among four bowls, spoon the pork mixture over the top and serve immediately, allowing diners to mix their own noodles at the table.
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