Spicy Peppercorn Dan Dan Noodles
It’s been grey and drizzling in Hong Kong all weekend, so I thought “what better way to add a bit of zing to the dismal weather than through a bowl of fiery dan dan noodles”? Although it won’t part the clouds, a bowl of piping hot, spicy noodles will certainly work its uplifting energy into your system.
As my family has a residence in Chengdu, the fiery capital of Sichuan, I’ve grown accustomed (and rather obsessed) with the numbing peppercorns and searing chilli that has made this region’s cuisine so globally renowned. I started off small, opting for “little spice” in my food and have since graduated to “authentic spiciness” like a true chilli connoisseur. The combination of numbing peppercorns and burning chilli is rather like a sadistic addiction, with each soaring high only ending with the craving of another hit.
Below is my rendition of what dan dan noodle should taste like. Feel free to adjust the seasonings to your taste to create your own bespoke bowl of happiness.
What you’ll need (serves 2):
- 100g minced pork
- 2 bundles of fresh Ramen noodles (you can buy this at Wellcome / ParkNShop)
- 1 tbls Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 tbls preserved vegetables, diced
- 2 tbls green onions, diced
- 1 tbls light soy sauce
- 1/4 tbls Chinese black vinegar
- 1/2 tbls honey
- 1 tbls sesame oil
- 1 clove of minced garlic
- 1/2 tbls chili oil
- 1 tbls sesame paste
- 1 tsp white pepper powder
- crushed peanuts (optional)
In a saucepan, toast the peppercorns lightly – be sure to hover around the stove as the peppercorns burn easily. It’s important that you use only Sichuan peppercorn, as western peppercorns do not have the same flavour (I get mine straight from Sichuan, but you can definitely find them in HK supermarkets).
After a couple of minutes, and when each kernel releases their perfumed oils, take them off the heat and crush in a mortar to a fine powder.
Start boiling water for the noodles.
Dice the preserved vegetables and green onions.
Add vinegar, soy sauce, honey, sesame paste and oil, peppercorn powder, garlic, chilli oil and white pepper powder in a bowl and mix well.
In a saucepan with a drizzle of oil, saute the minced pork until throughly cooked (around 3-5 minutes).
By now, the noodles should also be ready – fresh ramen noodles only take around 3-4 minutes to cook.
Save some of the boiling water from the noodles, and drain the rest. Rinse noodles under running water to remove extra starch, then decant into bowls.
Pour the sauce over each bowl of noodles, top with a few spoonfuls of the hot noodle water, and sprinkle with minced pork, green onions, preserved vegetables and crushed peanuts.