Dan Dan Your Face Off

Dan Dan Your Face Off


I’m gonna be away for the entire next week…… (walking away from the computer and doing a little touch-down dance…)(wait… wait for it…)(OK I’m back).  Tagging along on her husband’s every single business trip to Hong Kong may not be the idea of a modern woman, but for me it’s as simple as the most basic survival instinct.  I just have to get the hell outta this, this and this whenever I can.

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But before I leave for my sanity-restoration trip, I’m going to make a little face bomb for you.  Yup.  You heard that right.  FACE BOOOOMB.  If this doesn’t sound exciting to you then I will regretfully say that we probably don’t belong in the same demographic in any survey…  It’s a shame.  We could have pushed for real change and burn our taste-buds off while doing it, too.  Listen, forget what you know about most of the Americanized Sichuan foods for softies.  I’m not just talking about “hot” and “spicy” things.  Phhh… please, that’s so one-dimensional (doing a little hair-flip) on the spectrum of “spicism” in the grand cuisine of Sichuan.

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OK… I might have felt too good about myself back there.  Truth is I didn’t have a glimpse into the real Sichuan cuisine before I moved here, but once I did.  There is no turning back.  The spicy dishes in this genre is a meticulously orchestrated affair, a perfect balance between the burn from the heat, fragrance from the spices, floral scent from the red peppercorns but MOST OF ALL, while your taste-buds are wrrriggling in between pain and pleasure, a sweeping numbing sensation from the green peppercorn intercepts it all.  And you can’t decide if your mouth is sensually paralyzed or on fire!  Or BOTH!  AT THE SAME TIME!  It’s a ROLLER-COASTER for your TONGUE!  AND I have a gateway dish for you that’s sooo easy to put together!  How the hell are you not PSYCHED about this!??  Please!  Jump!  Rejoice!  CONVERT!

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Servings: 2~4

The name “dan dan” comes from the old days when these snack-able noodles were sold from mini portable food-stalls carried on vendors’ shoulder – an equipment called “bian-dan”.  It is more traditionally made with sesame paste instead of peanut butter/paste in this recipe.  But since I’m slightly allergic to sesame, I’m sticking with peanuts.

A little note on Sichuan peppercorns.  Not all Sichuan peppercorns are created equal.  The quality and variety of the these mini pods will separate your dish from being bland to great.  There are two major varieties, one green and one red.  The green one delivers a powerful “numbing” sensation on your tongue which is the meaning of the word “ma” in Chinese dishes.  The red one provides an intensely floral and peppery fragrance but with very little of the “numbing” effect.  They are usually used together to produce the perfect balance in Sichuan cuisine.  Detailed pictures in the Sichuan chili oil post.

Psssst… are you still reading?  OK…

The thing about writing a reliable Asian recipe is the difficulty to balance the inconsistency in between all the different seasonings from different companies.  For example, douban paste varies widely in flavor and saltiness and is a major factor in the final success of many dishes.  I’m doing my best to list out the exact brand I am using wherever possible.  Posharp Store is a great online resource for all of your Asian cooking needs if you can’t find anything in grocery shops.


  • 1/4 cup of Sichuan chili oil or make a quick version:
    • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
    • 1 scallion, cut into segments
    • 2 slices of ginger
    • 2 garlic, smashed
    • 2 star anise
    • 1 small piece of cinnamon, approx 1″
    • 3 tsp of sichuan green peppercorn, slightly crushed
    • 1 tsp of sichuan red peppercorn, slightly crushed
    • 2 1/2 tbsp of chili flakes
    • 1/8 tsp of ground coriander
    • 1/8 tsp of ground cumin
  • Dan dan sauce:
    • 150 g of ground pork
    • 1 tsp of soy sauce
    • 1 tsp of sesame oil
    • 4 garlic
    • 1 piece of ginger, approx 1 tbsp
    • 2 ~ 3 tbsp of douban chili bean paste (depends on the saltiness of the brand and the chicken stock used), this is the one I used for 2 1/2 tbsp
    • 3 1/2 tbsp of unsweetened (or very lightly sweetened) peanut butter (try Whole Foods 360 variety)
    • 1/2 tsp of ground sichuan red peppercorn (by using pepper grinder, or wrapping peppercorns in paper towel and pound it with a hammer/meat pounder)
    • 2 tbsp of rice wine
    • 2 1/4 cups of unsalted homemade chicken stock, or very low-sodium chicken stock
    • 1/2 ~ 1 tsp of sugar
    • 1/2 tsp of ground white pepper
  • Dry Asian noodles
  • A few sprigs of cilantro or scallions

Chili oil:  If you don’t already have homemade and bottled Sichuan chili oil on hand (why the hell don’t you?), you can put together a quick one.  Combine vegetable oil, scallion, ginger, garlic, star anise, cinnamon, green peppercorn and red peppercorn in a small sauce pot.  Set over medium heat and let the ingredients fry in the oil until the garlic and scallion are faintly browned.  Add the chili flakes, ground coriander and cumin.  Evenly stir and keep frying for another minute until the chili flakes slightly darken in color.  Turn off the heat and set it aside (the longer it sits, the better the flavor).

Make dan dan sauce:  Mix the pork evenly with soy sauce and sesame oil.  Set aside.  Puree garlic, ginger, douban paste and peanut butter in a food processor until smooth.  You don’t have to do this if you don’t mind the sometimes chunky texture of douban paste.  Just mince the garlic and ginger, then combine it with douban paste and peanut butter.  In a medium heavy-bottom pot, nicely brown the pork in 1 tbsp of oil.  Add the pureed paste, (updated on 2014/06/23, forgot the peppercorns!) AND ground sichuan red peppercorns and saute until fragrant, with some brown bits forming at the bottom of the pot, approx 2 min.  Add the rice wine and deglaze the pot, then add the chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer then add 1/2~1 tsp of sugar to balance out the saltiness.  Then add ground white pepper and keep simmering for another 5 min.

Meanwhile, bring another big pot of water to boil and cook the noodles according to package instructions.  I would suggest NOT using fresh noodles as it absorbs the sauce too quickly once combined.  Drain the noodle once cooked and divide it into 2 bowls.

Divide the sauce into the same bowls and add a few sprigs of cilantro or diced scallions.

Add 2 tbsp (… or more) of the chili oil on top through a sieve.  Sprinkle more ground sichuan peppercorn on top like one of the reader suggested!  Stir and slurp and… BURN!


  • Dom

    February 21, 2013 at 8:51 PM Reply

    Looks hot indeed. If Hong Kong is your breath of fresh air, then whoa! Jokes aside- enjoy it! and thanks for this recipe. Will try it soon. That’s a lot of ingredients for the dandan sauce. Interestink…..

    • Mandy L.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:58 AM Reply

      Dom, unfortunately and pathetically Hong Kong is…life isn’t very pretty here in Beijing. It looks like a lot of ingredients but its really easy to put together! You could omit soy sauce and sesame oil for the ground pork and it would still turn out fine! 2 ingredients less :)

    • Heather

      October 5, 2015 at 7:39 AM Reply

      I made this and it’s so good! But, I’m not sure I used the right noodles – is there any specific type/brand that you use?

  • Shirley

    February 21, 2013 at 11:13 PM Reply

    Looks really good! Can’t wait to give this recipe a try!!!

  • Monique @ Ambitious Kitchen

    February 22, 2013 at 12:09 PM Reply

    This is gorgeous. I’m loving the Sichuan chili oil recipe you included too!

  • Sarah

    February 22, 2013 at 12:55 PM Reply

    This look soooooo good! I have to go find some douban chilli paste (which I have never seen before :P) but I think it’ll be worth it!

    I have some szechuan chilli oil I made a while ago but it only has red in it. Never heard of green before. I’m surprised I’ve never read that there were two kinds before.

    • Mandy L.

      February 22, 2013 at 1:53 PM Reply

      Sarah, yes there are 2 kinds! And they are completely different. I have included online-resource links if you are in the US :) The green ones can be difficult to find because it isn’t very common but it’s worth it.

  • Candyce

    February 23, 2013 at 3:27 AM Reply

    This looks SO good! I tried Chinghe Huang’s recipe, which was close to this… but wowza, your pics make me drool!

  • Laura (Blogging Over Thyme)

    February 24, 2013 at 12:17 PM Reply

    Just popped over from Tastespotting–this looks INCREDIBLE. Definitely face plant worthy! Haha. This definitely makes me want to go on a shopping trip to my local Asian supermarket and stock up on all these ingredients.

  • S. @ The Captivating Life

    February 24, 2013 at 1:16 PM Reply

    Dan dan noodles is one of my favourite Asian dishes – that and Shanghai noodles have to be at the top of the list. This looks so amazing. Thanks for sharing the recipe – I would never have thought to try making it myself but now I totally will!

  • Camilla

    March 8, 2013 at 1:50 AM Reply

    This is amaaaaazzzzing! I used Chinese sesame paste instead of peanut butter, and added some julienned cucumber and chopped peanuts on top. Wow. Thanks so much– I’ve been looking for a great dan dan noodle recipe for so long. Also I am now putting that oil on everything.

    • Mandy L.

      March 8, 2013 at 2:25 AM Reply

      Camila, it’s totally addictive!

  • Mama Bear

    September 30, 2013 at 1:26 AM Reply

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been looking for the recipe to this dish since I left Calgary in 1989. It looks just like the soup I would eat at my favourite restaurant which they said was called Dum Dum Mi and it was hot. I can hardly wait to make it. I’m drooling already. Cheers!

  • Lan | morestomach

    November 6, 2013 at 12:02 AM Reply

    hello. i just wanted to tell you that i’ve made this twice, once with ground pork and the other time with tofu. i dream about this dish often, and i try to justify wanting to make this every.single.day.

    i’m currently sitting in my office bemoaning the week-long dinner menu that consists of CSA vegs and using up pantry items as we are planning to be away from home for awhile.

    anyway, thank you for sharing this.

    • STG

      January 12, 2016 at 8:06 AM Reply

      I don’t eat pork so was looking for alternatives, good idea with the tofu.

  • MissFoodFairy

    January 17, 2014 at 9:48 AM Reply

    OMG! This looks and sounds absolutely amazing! I am so inspired right now to make this (but its 44 degrees Celcius in Melbourne, Australia right now!) So I’ll be saving this for when the weather gets cooler. Thank you for sharing and for a very inspiring recipe. New reader to your blog too :)

    • Mandy L.

      January 18, 2014 at 2:10 AM Reply

      Food fairy, welcome!

  • Tracy Chow (Pantry No7)

    March 25, 2014 at 2:02 AM Reply

    I cannot wait to try this…unfortunately living in Central LA means traveling far and wide to get the appropriate ingredients. We recently made Zha Jiang Mian (http://pantryno7.com/zha-jiang-mian/) and I’m thinking Dan Dan noodles is going to be our next culinary noodle adventure but it may have to wait until our next hour long drive to Hong Kong supermarket.

    Thanks for sharing!

    PS. I’m from Hong Kong as well (and ex New Yorker) but live in Los Angeles now, and if Hong Kong is all you have to look forward to I feel your pain.

  • Sophie

    April 2, 2014 at 2:01 AM Reply

    I have had some tries at dan dan mien previously, but THIS. This method was my favorite — does it even need to be said or is it obvious? :) — thank you so much for guiding me towards authenticity. My guests loved it and I thought the process was simple and fun and I MAY have awoken before the rest of the house to steal the leftovers for a pre-breakfast. DELICIOUS!

  • Chandelle

    April 23, 2014 at 8:58 AM Reply

    Holy shit, you’re speaking my language here. I live in a small town and have to drive at least 90 minutes in any direction to find Asian ingredients, so frustrating. But it’s all worth it for dishes like this. It’s on the menu for next week. Thanks for the drool-worthy inspiration.

  • Bob

    June 23, 2014 at 6:01 PM Reply

    OMG, best food (blog) in the world!! I love it. I’ve made this 4 times in the last two weeks, at two portions each time that means 8 amazing meals! Thank you so much for enlightening me! Please share more sichuan pepper-based recipes with us in the future. I’m hooked!

    Btw, for anyone in Europe that is having a hard time sourcing green sichuan pepper, I found a friendly and reliable source in France:

    I have two questions about your recipe. You mention “4 garlic”. I assume you mean 4 cloves, not 4 whole bulbs, right?

    Also, your ingredients list “1/2 tsp of ground sichuan red peppercorn” for the sauce, but the recipe doesn’t use it. I used 1 tsp of ground sichuan green peppercorn to sprinkle on top of the dish. That probably skews the balance towards ma, but I just love the flavor/sensation of the green kind too much, so I don’t care.

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      June 23, 2014 at 6:13 PM Reply

      BOB: Thank you!!! First, yes 4 garlic means 4 cloves. And oops, I must have left out the peppercorn in the instruction! Thanks for reminding (will fix that right away)! And hey, knock yourself out with the peppercorns man! I also love the “ma/numbing” sensation from the green peppercorn :)

      • mandy@ladyandpups

        June 23, 2014 at 6:18 PM Reply

        By the way, if you enter “sichuan peppercorn” at the searching-box, a lot of recipes will come up ;)

  • Hanna

    February 20, 2015 at 2:32 AM Reply

    Can’t wait to try this! I live in a small town in the southeast, where it is very hard to find authentic Asian cuisine, and it is one of our favorites. I was lucky enough to find an Asian grocery about an hour away. Anyway, I found your website when searching for a recipe for spicy Thai noodle soup, Tom Yum I think. I am so glad that I did. Your recipes look amazing!

  • Shelley

    March 23, 2015 at 12:54 PM Reply

    This was divine! I just got through eating it. Twice. And you’re right – it seems like a lot of ingredients and steps, but it all goes together very easily and quickly. Just as easy as the cheetos sandwich recipe. \^-^/ Really love your recipes, photos, and narrative!

  • Katy Love

    April 13, 2015 at 12:39 AM Reply

    I made this dish 3X already. Double portions. I use half peanut butter and half sesame paste. Might as well make and freeze a good thing. Everyone I cooked it for said this is the best version of Dan Dan Mien. Even though usually Taiwanese versions are dry not soupy but the added broth mixes well with the meat sauce thus incorporating into a creamy sauce. This version is saved and printed as my go-to recipe. So glad I stumbled onto your website when looking for spicy wontons which I also made. The salty duck wontons was also delish in Hakka soup. Thanks Mandy!

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      April 13, 2015 at 12:13 PM Reply

      Katy, hahaah you’re welcome!!!! Thanks for all the thoughtful comments and insightful tips!!! So so so appreciated!!!

  • Allison Latture

    May 30, 2015 at 2:35 AM Reply

    Thanks for this recipe! I’ve been looking for this since my most recent China trip where I had the dish numerous times at a little dive noodle house. After trying it the first time, I made a few tweaks. I didn’t care for the ground pork, so I used all-natural uncured bacon, which I liked better. Icoursely chopped it, fried it, drained it, and cooked the sauce in the same pan. I would even like it without any meat. Additionally, I cut the red peppercorns down to half, because the heat was almost unbearable the first time. I also found that you can cut the heat by adding a little more rice wine, which didn’t affect the flavor. I used all the ingredients that you recommended, although I couldn’t find Korean chili flakes. Instead I used some red pepper flakes that I picked up in Indonesia, which worked fine. Probably, just plain ‘ol crushed red pepper would be ok too. I think the key is the bean paste. This will be in my permanent rotation…..delicious!!

  • Angela

    June 4, 2015 at 12:21 AM Reply

    So good! I’m so glad we found this recipe because we have been looking for a delicious dan dan recipe since we left Beijing. We make this all the time, and it is the perfect weeknight meal because it comes together so quickly. The chili oil is totally necessary, and we add it to everything now…omelets, barbecue, tacos…it’s a dangerous thing to keep in the fridge!

  • Al

    October 3, 2015 at 4:44 AM Reply

    I tried this but instead of the clear red broth in your photo I got a thick opaque sauce like a satay. Did you really mean 3 tablespoons of peanut butter? Also how would I modify the recipe to have sesame but no peanut? Thanks for the recipe, and I think the photos are stunning!

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      October 5, 2015 at 12:46 PM Reply

      Al, sorry for the late reply. If your sauce is too thick and you would want sesame instead of peanut, start with 1 1/2 tbsp of sesame paste to start and add it up according to your liking.

  • Heather

    October 5, 2015 at 7:40 AM Reply

    I made this and it’s so good! But, I’m not sure I used the right noodles – is there any specific type/brand that you use?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      October 5, 2015 at 12:37 PM Reply

      Heather, I used a type of noodle for ramen, which absorbs less liquid and stays firm longer.

  • Maelle

    October 22, 2015 at 4:35 AM Reply

    Hell yeah, you are the best, I’m absolutely addicted to this recipe, thank you soooo much, been looking for this a long time- lifeseaver recipe!!

  • Kat

    January 4, 2016 at 9:43 AM Reply

    Happy new year! I’ve made this multiple times over the past couple of years and thought it was about time to say thanks on behalf of myself and my spice-loving spouse. Best face bomb I’ve run into, and the chili oil is awesome to have in the fridge. Your fig & chestnut scones are becoming a cold-weather fixture in our home as well. Gratitude from Washington DC!

  • Vicky Rowe

    February 17, 2016 at 1:50 AM Reply

    Its amazing. I’ve been eating this almost every day for the last 3 weeks. I’m veggie (however I had the pork mince version last year when I wasn’t) and I can give the thumbs up for swapping the mince for smoked tofu, mushrooms of all descriptions and aubergine.

    I love this dish so much, it makes me really happy inside, comforting. Like I said….its on my menu daily.

  • Rebecca

    April 3, 2016 at 10:45 PM Reply

    I’m so excited to try this recipe! Looks amazing. Also, I’d love to know where you found your bowls. They are are lovely.

  • Mama Bear

    April 4, 2016 at 4:18 AM Reply

    Mandy, I finally had all the ingredients lined up and ready to go. Whipped everything up and we LOVED, LOVED, LOVED IT! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful recipes.

    I’m still in the thick of things and sadly once again I’m struggling to find Sechuan Peppercorns but I was able to buy the last few packages in my local store before I was unable to find them again. Still too much going on to try the Pineapple Bun recipe but I haven’t forgotten. Hopefully in the next 8 months the stars will be in alignment with the moon and I’ll get a chance to make some… they look great in the picture.

    Any luck on the Currey Beef Bun recipe?

    Thanks Mandy…..

  • Wendy

    April 12, 2016 at 6:17 AM Reply

    I recently made your sichuan chile paste for the “Firey cold sichuan sesame noodles.” Is it an acceptable sub for the sichuan Chile oil in this recipe and others? Would you use just the oil part of the paste or use a different amount of paste than the chile oil? Thanks! Really enjoying cooking your recipes!

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      April 12, 2016 at 1:57 PM Reply

      Wendy, the chili paste is quite similar so you can definitely substitute!

  • Rosanna Breiddal

    August 9, 2017 at 3:33 AM Reply

    Wow this was so fun to make and I really am enjoying eating it. I’ve never had this dish before, so I’m not sure how its supposed to taste, I found that my sauce tastes quite bitter – I can’t figure out why…any ideas? I made the quick version of the sichuan oil…

  • Lenora

    February 3, 2018 at 1:14 AM Reply

    Is the the chili oil different than than the paste. I am a bit confused about that.

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      February 3, 2018 at 2:04 AM Reply

      Lenora, are you talking about the difference between the sAuce and the oil?

  • Squeak

    February 24, 2021 at 2:09 AM Reply

    FYI – Posharp store is closed – at least the order I put in a year ago hasn’t been shipped, and the phone number is disconnected… BBB has LOTS of complaints on them.

  • Priya Singh

    June 6, 2021 at 3:00 AM Reply

    lol – i’ve made this before and loved it. but – how many grams of dried noodles per serving should we plan for as a starting point?

  • Linsey wild

    October 29, 2021 at 12:04 AM Reply

    Lovely recipe. Where do you use the 1/4 cup of Sichuan chilli oil though? Listed in ingredients and can’t find it in actual recipe?

  • treepy

    February 16, 2022 at 8:28 PM Reply

    Same Problem here.. what about the chili oil? can’t find it in the recipe..?!

  • treepy

    February 17, 2022 at 12:17 AM Reply

    Aah sorry, here it is: “Add 2 tbsp (… or more) of the chili oil on top through a sieve.”

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