I call this the spaghetti Bolognese from Sichuan: very popular around the world and everybody makes his own version. With less or more ingredients, sesame-paste or not, peanuts or not, lots of oil, spicy, not spicy, pork or beef and sometimes more like a soup than a bowl of noodles. This is my version, spicy and packed full of flavors:
The order of assembling (not preparing) the dish is:
400 g dried noodles
Udon is nice, but any noodle made from wheat will do. You could even use Italian pasta. Cook according the instructions on the package.
Cold sauce to mix with the noodles
2 T sesame paste or tahin
1 T sesame oil
1 T light soy sauce or Japanese Soy sauce
1 T Chinese black vinegar
½ T caster sugar (skip if you used the sweetened black vinegar)
1½ T or more chili oil
Just mix everything together, taste and increase any of the ingredients to your liking. You mix this with the cooked noodles, just enough to give it a light coating. Add a splash of water if it gets too sticky/starchy.
Meat sauce to put on top of noodles
400 g minced pork (or beef)
2 T chopped garlic
2 T chopped ginger
2 T chopped spring onion or shallot
1 T crushed/ground sichuanpepper
2 T Shaoxing ricewine
3 T chilibean sauce
Like any other meatsauce: panfry the minced meat until brown. Take it out of the pan or push to one side and panfry the garlic, ginger, onion and sichuanpeppers. When fragrant, mix with the minced meat and add the Shaoxing ricewine. Wait a few seconds to evaporate, then add the chilibeansauce. Fry for about 30 seconds, then add enough water/stock until the meat is just covered/moist. Simmer for half an hour or more. Season with soy sauce or salt if necessary, but be careful, somehow Dan Dan noodles can easily get too salty. If you like your sauce sticky like I do, you can thicken the sauce with a little cornstarch mixed with cold water.
Garnish on top
Chopped spring onion
Stirfried ya cai *)
Roasted and chopped peanuts
Coat the warm noodles with the cold sesame based sauce and divide into individual serving bowls. Add 1 or 2 big spoonfuls of meatsauce on top of the noodles. Sprinkle with spring onion, yacai, coriander and peanuts. Serve with a simple vegetable dish like stirfried Chinese broccoli (gai lan) with garlic sauce.
*) Yacai is not easy or maybe I should say practically impossible to find. It’s pickled greens from a specific mustard cabbage (Brassica juncea, tsatsai). Other recipes say you can substitute it with zha cai (the pickled tuber/stem from the same plant) or Tianjin (preserved chinese cabbage), I wouldn’t, I’d just leave it out. But that’s because I’m not too keen on pickled stuff, yacai is an exception.