Dan Dan Noodles

Dan Dan Noodles
Dan Dan Noodles

Dan Dan Noodles get their name from the spicy sauce and noodles found on either side of a stick (dan) spanning the shoulders. The merchant would combine the ingredients from each of the two buckets to serve the spicy noodles. What makes Dan Dan Noodles so notable is the combination of flavors and textures from the sesame paste, minced pork, chili oil and especially the Szechuan peppercorns.

I first discovered Dan Dan Noodles around 2010 at Han Dynasty with my friends Aimee, Bernie, and Yancy. I had never been more happy to be sweating from such delicious spicy foods. Szechuan peppercorns aren’t so much spicy as they are numbing. It’s hard to describe but once you’ve experienced their tongue tingling effects you’re instantly addicted. This recipe is my best attempt to replicate the best damn dan dan noodles ever.

Han Dynasty

Han Dynasty is a Philadelphia based Szechuan style Chinese restaurant.  They have six restaurants in the Philly region and two in Manhattan.  Funny story about Han Dynasty; their website is handynasty.net, not handynasty.com. Use your imagination and you can see why this used to be a porn site. This mix up was used as a plot device on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia – S07 E05, “Shadynasty”.

Since you’re already on youtube, go check out this informative 2015 Munchies episode starring Han Chiang from Han Dynasty. Han talks a bit about his restaurant, his philosophy about Chinese / American cuisines, and stops by a few places in town to get his eats on. This is one of the more enjoyable videos I’ve seen about Philly, food related or otherwise. Warning: there’s cursing, edible eyeballs, pig loving, and Jason Kelce.

Back to the Noodles

Dan Dan Noodles
Dan Dan Noodles

 

It’s no exaggeration to claim that Han Dynasty Dan Dan Noodles are legendary. I mean, my friend Aimee has ensured this to be true all on her own.  I would never claim this recipe is better than the real deal but they are pretty darn close; especially if you’re not near a Han Dynasty.

There’s three main components to Dan Dan Noodles; the sauce, the noodles, and the minced pork. The sauce is the more complex of the trifecta so I’ll get to that in a minute.

For the noodles, I used fresh Shanghai Yang Chun noodles from my local asian shop.  They’re not the perfect Han Dynasty dan dan noodles but they’re close.  Any medium thickness round asian flour noodle (not rice) should work.  In a pinch, you could use linguini.  Prepare the noodles per the package directions then run them under cold water to stop the cooking.  Drain them thoroughly so no extra water dilutes the sauce and so the sauce sticks well to the pasta. Proper draining is a critical step.

The minced pork is traditional and pretty easy to prepare.  Rather than packaged ground pork, which I rarely see available but you could ask your butcher, quickly chop up a half pound of pork loin. Just mince the pork then sauté with ginger, garlic, and a splash of soy sauce (for seasoning and color). Just as you turn off the heat, throw in a handful of chopped scallions. Taste for seasoning especially if you’re using low sodium soy sauce. You could skip this or use mushrooms if you want to make it vegetarian.

The Dan Dan Noodle sauce is the key component here. I’ve found over a dozen variations on how to make this but none seem to come close Han Dynasty’s. This sauce is spicy and numbing with a bit of sweetness and lots of umami from the sesame paste. Within the recipe for the sauce is a recipe for homemade chili oil. It only takes a few minutes to make but you’re going to have to source some ingredients from an asian store or the internet. I’ve posted the recipe for Szechuan Chili Oil in a separate article here. If you’re going to buy the chili oil in a jar, all I can say is good luck. There’s not much constancy out there and most of them use food dyes to make them red.

There’s a traditional way to prepare the dish of which I’m not sure I’ve determined the purpose.  Rather than pouring the sauce over the noodles, you first put the sauce in the bowl, then the noodles, and finally the pork and some scallions on top. It seems to work well and I haven’t been brave enough to do it differently.

Dan Dan Noodle Sauce
Dan Dan Noodle Sauce

 

Dan Dan Noodles

Dan Dan Noodles

Anthony
This recipe for Dan Dan Noodles is inspired by one of the greatest Philadelphia restaurants, Handynasty. Hunt down some Szechuan peppercorns from your local asian market or the internet, otherwise you're just making Meh Meh Noodles.
3.5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Cuisine Szechuan
Servings 2 servings

Ingredients
  

Sauce

  • 2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh ground szechuan peppercorns
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sesame paste
  • 3 Tbsp chili oil
  • 1/4 Tbsp fishsauce

Minced Pork

  • 1/2 lb. pork loin finely minced
  • 2 gloves garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger 
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 green onions chopped and divided

Instructions
 

Sauce (2 servings)

  • Combine all ingredients and whisk well.

Minced Pork

  • In a pan over medium high heat, add 1 tbs vegetable oil and sauté pork.
  • Add a few drops of sesame oil if you have some.
  • Halfway through, add the garlic and ginger.
  • When almost done, add the soy sauce and sauté well to coat pork.
  • Turn off the heat, add half the scallion and combine.
  • Reserve half the scallion for garnish.

Noodles

  • Prepare 1 lb noodles according to packaging instructions. 
  • Rinse with ice cold water and drain thoroughly. 

Assembly

  • Add the sauce to a large, empty service bowl.  Add the cold noodles on top and then the pork.  
  • Mix well before serving to individual bowls. Garnish with Scallions.

Notes

For my Szechuan Chili Oil recipe, visit http://eatup.kitchen/szechuan-chili-oil/
This post may contain affiliate links. I may get a tiny kickback from your purchase.

13 Comments

  1. Will Stoeckel

    Looking forward to making these as I’ve been addicted since I first had them in NYC last year. No one around me makes a Dan Dan noodle that’s even close. How about a copycat recipe of their dry chili chicken too?

  2. I first had Dan Dan Noodles at Han Dynasty back in 2012 in Philly and loved them. Since then, I’ve moved around the country because of the Navy and have never found Dan Dan noodles that met my expectations. I was a bit skeptical of this recipe because I’ve been let down many times before (and this dude is white). But I gave it a shot because it seemed simple and mentioned Han Dynasty. I can not tell you how amazing these Dan Dan noodles are. Anthony really nailed it. My husband tasted these and said “Wow, these are the best dan dan noodles I’ve ever tasted”. Thank you Anthony for recreating this amazing recipe. You really brought joy to our household.

    PS: I did play around with a couple of substitutions. I tried using chinese dark soy sauce instead of regular, and I used Chinese black vinegar, instead of regular and I thought it was a nice variant.

    • Wow! Thank you Jane! I’m so glad you and your husband enjoyed these and shared your story. It means a lot. The black vinegar was a great call ?

  3. Han Dynasty Noodle doesn’t taste sour. I tried your recipe, but it tasted weird with vinegar. I wonder how the noodle has very bright yellow color comparing to the sesame that is brown.

  4. Fantastic article and recipe…love szechuan peppercorns and haven’t cooked with them for a while. As always, thanks Anthony!

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