Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles defy tradition since the traditional topping for the fiery noodles normally starts with
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Authentic dan dan noodles are Chinese wheat noodles (like lo mein) tossed in a sauce made of Chinese sesame paste, garlic, hot chili oil, black vinegar, and shiaoxing wine and then topped with ground pork that has been sauteed with ginger, scallions, preserved mustard greens (ya cai) and Sichuan peppercorns. Sometimes broth is added to the bowl to make it soupy.
Can you make authentic vegetarian dan dan noodles?
It may not be authentic, but I make vegetarian dan dan noodles by replacing the pork with crumbled tofu and minced shiitake mushrooms. Cooked along with caramelized shallots and garlic, ginger, scallions, fermented black beans, pickled mustard greens, soy sauce, and shiaoxing wine, this combo is delicious. I like the tofu version even better than the meaty original.
Are vegetarian dan dan noodles vegan?
I use honey to add a touch of sweetness to the sauce, but you can easily replace that with sugar or another sweetener in order to make it vegan.
What ingredients do you need to make dan dan noodles?
Many of the ingredients in vegetarian dan dan noodles are things you probably keep in your kitchen, but some might require a special trip to a Chinese or Asian market or an online shopping spree. In addition to tofu, shallots, garlic, ginger, scallions, peanuts, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and vegetable oil, you also need the following if you want to approximate an authentic rendition of dan dan noodles. I’ve included easy substitutions, too, in case you don’t have access to a Chinese grocery:
- Shiitake mushrooms (you can substitute button or cremini mushrooms)
- Chinese salted or fermented black beans (find these at a Chinese or Asian market or buy online. You can also leave these out if you don’t have them, adding additional soy sauce for salt)
- Preserved mustard greens (ya
cai) (find at a Chinese or Asian market or buy online. You can substitute chopped kimchi or any kind of winter greens)
- Chinese (or Japanese) sesame paste (find at a Chinese or Asian market or buy online or substitute no-sugar-added peanut butter mixed with sesame oil)
Shiaoxingwine (or substitute dry sherry or dry white wine)
- Chili oil (either homemade or store-bought)
- Chinese wheat noodles (or spaghetti or linguine)
What does dan dan mean in Chinese?
Dandan is type of over-the-shoulder carrying pole that street vendors used to tote the noodles and sauce (which hung from baskets on either end of the pole). So dan dan noodles essentially means “street vendor noodles.”
Can you make dan dan noodles ahead of time?
While this recipe has several parts—noodles, topping, and sauce—each of the parts can be cooked separately and all can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold. You can make batches of the topping and/or sauce and keep them in the fridge, cooking up noodles just before you’re ready to eat. Or make everything in advance and enjoy it all cold or at room temperature—vegetarian
- For the topping
- 1 (14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced (or red onion)
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 12 ounces shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped (or button or cremini mushrooms)
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons Chinese salted black beans, rinsed and chopped (optional)
- 1/3 cup preserved mustard greens (or chopped kimchi)
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry or dry white wine)
- 1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
- For the sauce
- ¼ cup Chinese or Japanese sesame paste (or no-sugar-added peanut butter + 1 tablespoon sesame oil)
- ¼ cup lower-sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey (or substitute coconut sugar for vegan)
- 2 scallions, sliced
- 1 to 2 tablespoons homemade or store-bought chili oil, or more to taste
- For the noodles and serving
- 16 ounces fresh Chinese wheat noodles (or spaghetti or linguine)
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup chopped dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts
- Remove the tofu from the package, pouring off
the water from the package. Wrap the tofu in a clean
dish towel and set it on a plate. Place another plate or a baking dish on top and add cans or other heavy items to weight it down. Let stand for 30 to 45 minutes to press out excess water.
- Make the sauce by whisking together the sesame paste, soy sauce, vinegar, and honey until well combined. Stir in the scallion and add the chile oil a little at a time until you achieve your desired level of spice.
- To cook the topping, heat the cooking oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Reduce the heat to medium low, add the shallots and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are softened and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the
mushrooms have released their liquid and turn golden brown, about 5 minutes.
- Crumble the tofu and add it to the pan and cook, stirring
occasionally, until the tofu begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger, scallion, black beans, preserved mustard greens, wine, and soy sauce and cook, stirring, until the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes more.
- While the tofu is cooking, cook the noodles according to the package instructions (usually about 3 minutes in boiling water for fresh noodles). Drain.
- To serve, place a serving of noodles in a serving bowl and spoon some of the sauce over them. Toss to coat the noodles well and then top with some of the tofu topping. Garnish with scallions and chopped peanuts. Serve immediately.
Amount Per Serving Calories 614 Total Fat 34g Saturated Fat 5g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 27g Cholesterol 0mg Sodium 855mg Carbohydrates 63g Net Carbohydrates 0g Fiber 11g Sugar 11g Sugar Alcohols 0g Protein 22g