Friday, January 23, 2015

My Dan-Dan Noodles

Dan-Dan noodles have a long history in Jon's and my life together.  When we lived in Scottsdale, we found a little restaurant that had the best Dan-Dan noodles.  What are Dan-Dan noodles?  Well, Wikipedia says:

Dandan noodles

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dandan noodles or dandanmian (traditional Chinese: 擔擔麵, simplified Chinese: 担担面) is a noodle dish originating from Chinese Sichuan cuisine. It consists of a spicy sauce containing preserved vegetables (often including zha cai (榨菜), lower enlarged mustard stems, or ya cai (芽菜), upper mustard stems), chili oilSichuan pepper, minced pork, and scallions served over noodles.
Sesame paste and/or peanut butter is sometimes added, and occasionally replaces the spicy sauce, usually in the Taiwanese and American Chinese style of the dish.[1] In this case, dandanmian is considered as a variation of ma jiang mian (麻醬麵), sesame sauce noodles. In American Chinese cuisine, dandanmian is often sweeter, less spicy, and less soupy than its Sichuan counterpart.
Anyway, they've always been one of Jon's favorite dishes and whenever he would see them on the menu, he would typically order them.  
After we moved back to Arizona from England, Jon decided he was going to try and make them at home.  We learned, in England, that if we wanted some of our American style food then we would have to make it ourselves.  So in that spirit, Jon took on the Dan-Dan.
He did an AMAZING job and we all instantly voted it a family favorite.  Even Mom was excited to try and make it after we left for Illinois.
Fast forward to two nights ago.  Jon had planned to make the Dan-Dan before he left Sunday afternoon, but it just didn't work out, so I had to make it for dinner Monday night.  I was a little nervous that the kids wouldn't like mine at all.  I was partially right, the both said it was okay, but that Jon's was better.  Personally, I preferred mine as it was more a bit my style, and so that is the recipe I am posting here.  

Jen's Dan-Dan Noodles
1 1/2 Large chicken breasts
1/2  medium onion
3 garlic cloves
Chow mein noodles, dry.  (we typically use whatever noodle we have in the pantry which          can be rice noodles, wonton noodles...even ramen noodles)
1/2 Cup mushrooms, chopped
1 small can water chestnuts, chopped
1 packet of hot and spicy Szechwan seasoning mix
4 green onions, chopped
1 Tbs of vegetable oil (do not use olive oil)
1 Cup bean sprouts
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and julianned.

Put on a pot of water to boil.  Make the seasoning pack if necessary (some packages include everything others have you add soy, etc)  Add the green onions to the sauce.
Put the onion and garlic in a food processor and pulse till chopped, not too small.  Cut up and add the chicken in large chunks, then the pepper.  Again pulse, but this time till the chicken gets to a ground chicken consistency.  
Get your wok on the stove on medium high.  Add vegetable oil.  When the oil starts to marble add in the chopped chicken mixture, mushrooms, and water chestnuts. After the chicken is cooked through add the sauce mixture.  Stir and coat.  This is where you need to taste.  Does it have enough spice or salt?  If you like it spicy add some Sriacha, if it needs a little salt, add a bit of soy sauce.  As soon as the sauce thickens, drop your noodles into the boiling water.  I do not salt this water as there is a lot of salt in the sauce already.  Typically the noodles will cook very quickly, make sure not to over cook your noodles.  Take the chicken mix off the stove until the noodles are done.
Build your plate.  Noodles, chicken mix, and then top with bean sprouts and cucumber.

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