Tan Tan Noodles
They say that there is medicinal value in garlic, ginger and chilies. If that is true, then this dish is a tour de force. If you have had Tan Tan Noodles before then you are aware of the assertive ‘in your face’ flavor and sinus clearing properties of this dish. Tan Tan noodles (also spelled Dan Dan noodles) originated from the Szechwan region of China. Their name refers to the pole (a tan tan) that was used to carry them through the streets and sold by food vendors. A tan tan held two pots, one for sauce, and one for noodles. The dish eventually found its way to Japan, where it is a popular ramen dish, and of course the United States where it is a Chinese restaurant staple. Like all ancient Chinese recipes, they have changed and been adapted to fit modern tastes. I’ve done some adapting myself and I have no doubt you will too, adding or subtracting seasonings to suit your own taste. For example, you can easily go meatless by substituting a vegetarian broth and including tofu or fresh vegetables. Sometimes I use Siracha instead of chili sauce, which is less oily and will give you a different texture. Some people like more broth for a soup-like consistency, while others will prefer less for a ‘spaghetti-like’ dish. The only thing I insist on every time is making sure I use fresh noodles. I like fresh Chinese ‘Shanghai” style noodles that are thick and chewy. As long as you start with good noodles and taste as you go, I am sure they will turn out great. Enjoy!
- 4 cups Mock beef broth (see below)
- 1 pound fresh noodles
- 1 pound ground beef or pork
- 1/4 cup garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh ginger, chopped
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1/2 cup sesame paste (see note)
- 1/3 cup Chinese hot chili sauce
- 4-6 tablespoons peanuts, chopped
- 32 ounces beef bouillon
- 2 pieces star anise
- 1/4 teaspoon Szechwan peppercorns
- 2-3 green onions cut into 1 inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons bean sauce
- 1-2 slices of fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup rice wine or dry sherry
Begin by preparing the mock broth. Place the bouillon along with all the other broth ingredients into a sauce pan and heat until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the ginger, anise, and green onions. Set aside. Chop the garlic, ginger, green onions and peanuts and set aside. Heat the oil in a wok and add the garlic and ginger, give a quick stir, then add the ground meat and continue to cook until it is well browned. Be careful not to let the garlic burn. When the meat is sufficiently browned, lower heat to low and add soy sauce, green onions, chili sauce and sesame paste. Continue to stir until all ingredients are combined and heated through. Remove from heat. Cook noodles according to directions on the package. Drain but do not rinse. Divide the noodle between 4-6 bowls. Divide the meat evenly and place some in each bowl. Pour the desired amount of broth over each bowl (usually ½ to 1 cup of broth depending on how you like it). Top each bowl with a spoonful of chopped peanuts and you are ready to serve.
*Note. Sesame paste is found in Asian markets. There are two different kinds so make sure to use the lighter colored one. You could also substitute tahini sauce or even peanut butter for a distinctly different flavor.