Yesterday was a total foodie day at home. We had Vietnamese pork bone and green papaya soup (canh du du) for lunch and, because the soup served with a little rice was such a light lunch, in the afternoon, Alex cooked dandan noodles. Instead of the usual minced pork, she used fresh whole shrimps.
What is dandan noodles? In Chinese Sichuan cuisine, it is a rather soupy and very spicy noodle dish with the spiciness coming mainly from chili oil. If you’re having dandan noodles in America though, the dish might look and taste different. In America, the spicy sauce is sometimes replaced with a combination of sesame paste and peanut butter.
Alex made the chili oil for her non-soupy dandan noodles by hand. I often wonder if she isn’t overstraining herself with all the cooking that she does these days but, as she likes to remind me just as often, she is far younger than I am and she tires less easily.
Except for the chili oil ingredients, the amounts given below are approximates. Use more or less to suit your taste.
- 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
- a cup palm oil
- a 2-inch piece of cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- ¼ cup crushed chili flakes
- 150 grams fresh egg noodles
- 200 grams fresh shrimps
- 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon five spice powder
- a drizzle of calamansi juice
- scallions, to garnish
- Make the chili oil. Toast the Sichuan peppercorns in an oil free pan until fragrant. Set aside.
- Pour the palm oil in a sauce pan and set over medium-low heat. Add the Sichuan peppercorns, cinnamon stick, star anise and chili flakes. Heat until tiny bubbles form along the edges. This should take five to six minutes. Turn off the heat. When the oil has cooled, strain it. Measure about three tablespoonfuls of chili oil. Pour the rest into a jar and reserve for future use.
- Blanch the egg noodles and drain.
- Peel and devein the shrimps. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
- Heat a non-stick pan. Add the shrimps and cook for about 30 seconds on each side. Add the hoisin sauce, rice wine, soy sauce, five-spice powder and calamansi juice. Cook, stirring the shrimps around, for another minute.
- Add the noodles to the pan. Pour in the chili oil. Cook, tossing everything together, until the noodles are heated through and the sauces are uniformly distributed.
- Sprinkle the dandan noodles with scallions before serving.