As I mentioned earlier, I recently came into the possession of a Sichuan cooking book that is full of appetizing authentic recipes. The only problem with authentic recipes is that it can be hard to find all the ingredients. While, I rarely follow recipes without adapting them, I really wanted to follow this recipe especially since I have never had Dan Dan Noodles before 🙂 The most difficult ingredient to find was the Sichuanese ya cai, preserved vegetables. However, I persevered and after visiting three Asian stores, I came upon a dusty packet that looked exactly as the one described by Fuchsia Dunlop, the cookbook author on her blog. I almost did a happy dance in the store, but I was already getting weird looks for spending so much time analyzing the food on the shelves 🙂
The recipe required ground pork, but I decided to use cubed chicken breast instead. Also, in my excitement about finding ya cai, I totally forgot to buy chili oil so I ended up making my own!
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 8 – 10 oz fresh Chinese egg noodles
- 1 Tb peanut oil
- 4 Tb Sichuanese ya cai
- 2 scallions, green parts only, sliced
- 1 1/2 Tb light soy sauce
- 1/2 Tb dark soy sauce
- 3 Tb chili oil (for 1 cup: 1/4 cup red pepper flakes, 1 cup peanut oil, 1 piece ginger)
- 1 1/2 tsp Chinkiang vinegar
- 1 tsp ground roasted Sichuan pepper
- chicken topping: 1 Tb peanut oil, 1 chicken breast cubed, 1 tsp sherry, 2 tsp light soy sauce
If you do not have chili oil, make your own a few hrs or the day before. Place the pepper flakes in a ball jar. Heat the oil with the ginger until very hot. Let cool for 5-10 min (225 – 250F). Pour over the pepper flakes, stir and let sit for a few hours or overnight.
Heat up a pan over medium heat. Roast your Sichuan pepper until fragrant. Remove from heat, let cool, and grind in a mortar.
Heat up oil over medium high heat. Stir fry the ya cai for 30 sec or until fragrant. Place in a bowl and mix with the remaining sauce ingredients and scallions.
Wipe the skillet clean and prepare the chicken topping. Stir fry chicken in peanut oil for a few minutes, add the sherry and soy sauce and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through.
Cook noodles according to package directions (mine took about a minute of boiling in water). Assemble the dish by first placing some sauce in a bowl.
Add your noodles and mix with the sauce.
Top with chicken and serve!
I have to admit that the ya cai didn’t smell super appetizing to me, but it was addicting once I started eating it! My only gripe is that it was quite salty so next time I may try soaking it in water first to get rid of some of the salt.
This was another quick (assuming you have the chili oil ready) and delicious dinner and I am looking forward to cooking more dishes from my Land of Plenty cookbook!