Dan Dan Mian (Sichuan Noodles with Chili Sauce and Pork)
TIME 1 ¼ HOURS
If you can’t find Sichuan chili powder, substitute Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru). Sichuan peppercorns provide a tingly, numbing sensation that’s important to this dish; find them in the spice aisle at Asian markets. We prefer the chewy texture of fresh, eggless Chinese wheat noodles here. If they aren’t available, substitute fresh lo mein or ramen noodles or 8 ounces of dried lo mein noodles. Ya cai, Sichuan preserved mustard greens, gives these noodles a savory and pungent boost; you can buy it online or at an Asian market. If ya cai is unavailable, omit it and increase the soy sauce in step 2 to 2 teaspoons. This dish can be served warm or at room temperature.
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Sichuan chili powder
2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns, ground fine
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons sweet wheat paste or hoisin sauce 1 ½ teaspoons Chinese sesame paste or tahini
8 ounces ground pork
2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 small heads baby bok choy (about 3 ounces each)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 pound fresh Chinese wheat noodles
⅓ cup ya cai
2 scallions, sliced thin on bias
1. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil, chili powder, peppercorns, and cinnamon in 14-inch wok or 12-inch nonstick skillet over low heat for 10 minutes. Using rubber spatula, transfer oil mixture to bowl (do not wash wok). Whisk soy sauce, vinegar, wheat paste, and sesame paste into oil mixture. Divide evenly among 4 shallow bowls.
2. FOR THE NOODLES: Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. While water comes to boil, combine pork, Shaoxing wine, and soy sauce in medium bowl and toss with your hands until well combined. Set aside. Working with 1 head bok choy at a time, trim base (larger leaves will fall off ) and halve lengthwise through core. Rinse well.
3. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in now-empty wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add reserved pork mixture and use rubber spatula to smear into thin layer across surface of wok. Break up meat into ¼ -inch chunks with edge of spatula and cook, stirring frequently, until pork is firm and well browned, about 5 minutes. Push pork mixture to far side of wok and add garlic, ginger, and remaining 1 teaspoon oil to cleared space. Cook, stirring constantly, until garlic mixture begins to brown, about 1 minute. Stir to combine pork mixture with garlic mixture. Remove wok from heat.
4. Add bok choy to boiling water and cook until leaves are vibrant green and stems are crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Using slotted spoon or spider skimmer, transfer boy choy to plate; set aside. Add noodles to boiling water and cook, stirring often, until almost tender (center should still be firm with slightly opaque dot). Drain noodles. Rinse under hot running water, tossing with tongs, for 1 minute. Drain well.
5. Divide noodles evenly among prepared bowls. Return wok with pork to medium heat. Add ya cai and cook, stirring frequently, until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Spoon equal amounts of pork topping over noodles. Divide bok choy evenly among bowls, shaking to remove excess moisture as you portion. Top with scallions and serve, leaving each diner to stir components together before eating.
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