Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Spicy Sichuan Noodles - Dan Dan Mien

Wow.  The kids loved this.  It was a bit of a gamble trying something new on them.  But they were obviously in a receptive mood.  Even confessing to new vegetables - spring onion and pak choi - didn't stop them.

To anyone who knows something more about Chinese food, and Dan Dan Mien, than British takeaways will know that Sichuanese food is hot.  Mouth numbingly hot.  The recipe below is a combination of the many I came across when researching this recipe.  It does list several kinds of chilli.  But I did not add any chilli, or preserved vegetables, when making this the other night to cater for a) kids, and b) ingredients available in semi-rural Hampshire.  I did, however, add a pinch of hot chilli flakes to the kids leftovers for me!

This is a great recipe for making a little (meat and veg) go a long way.

Serves 2
2 layers Sharwood medium egg noodles
1 large chicken breast or two small (pork or beef can be used instead)
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
2 large spring onions
8 pak choi leaves, or spinach or chard
2 tbsp chopped Sichuan preserved vegetable (optional)
1 handful dry-roasted peanuts or cashew nuts
1 tbsp sunflower oil

125ml chicken stock or water (I used the noodle water)
2 tbsp Chinese rice wine, dry sherry, or white wine
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tbsp Chinese sesame paste or tahini
1 tbsp Chinese black rice vinegar, or balsamic vinegar
1-3 tbsp chilli oil (beware - it packs quite a kick!)
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground Sichuan pepper (optional)

Cook the noodles according to the packet's instructions.  Rinse with cold water to stop them cooking, then drain.  Rinsing with cold water also stops them sticking together, but you can also toss them in a little sesame oil if you have no faith.

Whilst all the noodles are cooking, prepare all your stir fry and sauce ingredients.  Grate or finely chop the garlic and ginger.  Finely slice the preserved vegetable (if using), spring onions, and pak choi.  Blend in a mini food processor, or crush, the peanuts.  Then mince, or finely chop, the chicken in the food processor.  Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a measuring jug.

When everything is prepared heat your wok or large frying pan over a high heat.  Add the sunflower oil and swirl it around the coat the sides of the wok.  Then in quick succession add the garlic and ginger, stir once, then the minced chicken.  Stir and break the chicken into little pieces with a fish slice.

Add the spring onions and vegetables when the meat stops looking pink.  Stir around and then add the crushed peanuts.  Once the nuts start to stick to the pan add the sauce ingredients and turn the heat down to a simmer.

Traditionally, I believe the minced meat mixture is served on a bed of noodles for the diner to mix together with chopsticks.  My kids are now pretty handly with hinged chopsticks, but a 4 and 7 year old mixing at the table seemed a recipe for disaster.  So once the sauce began to simmer I added the cooled noodles back to the chicken and sauce in the wok and mixed it myself before serving.

Eaten with much relish and slurping.  And with a drying up cloth pegged around their necks.

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