Tan Tan Noodles: One of China’s most popular street food that you can make at home

Written by Luisa Davis on . Posted in food

Tan Tan noodles, or also known as Dan Dan noodle, are just one of those few food items that have been evolving consistently and changed so much from the original that almost every recipe can be claimed as the original when in reality it is not.

Traditional Dan Dan noodles hare Sichuan noodle dishes with green onions, preserved vegetables, ground pork, and spicy red chili oil soup. The ground pork noodle variant is definitely delicious, spicy and hot!

In fact, they are so delicious that a lot of other cultures from around the world have made their own versions of the famous Tan Tan noodles. This dish works perfectly on cold winter days. It will effectively warm up your body. Salty, sweet, rich and spicy, you will find a lot of layers that are filled with flavors and matches up perfectly with the blanched greens and a simple boiled egg.

Most people say that there are medicinal values in chilies, ginger, and garlic. If this statement is indeed true, then the Tan Tan noodles is a force to be reckoned with. If you have had this delicious dish before, then you must be well aware of the assertive flavors and the sinus-clearing properties of this dish.

What is Tan Tan Ramen Noodles?

Tan Tan noodles originated from the Szechwan region of China. This name refers to the pole, or tan tan, which was used to carry them through the streets and sold by food vendors. The pole held two pots – one of the noodles and the other for the sauce. This dish eventually traveled its way to Japan, where it is a popular staple dish today, and to the US, where you can find it at any Chinese food outlet.

Just like every other dish in the world, the Tan Tan noodles have been adapted to fit the modern taste of people. For example, you can easily substitute the non-vegetarian variant of the Tan Tan noodles by adding fresh vegetables, tofu, and a vegetarian broth. Sometimes, you can make use of the Sirachi instead of the chili sauce, which will give you a different texture and is less oily.

There are also people that look for a broth that has the consistency of soup, while others will prefer the spaghetti-like dish. In short, there is no dearth of varieties when it comes to Tan Tan noodles, with each of them having their own taste and looks.

Two Tan Tan noodle ingredients that make the dish stand out from the others

If traditional methods are to be considered, then the Tan Tan noodles are served with peas or fried soy beans. You will find the highest level of crispiness with these ingredients. Usually, a large batch is fried each time. You can also mix the rest with sugar and salt, serving just a snack. If you do not want to do anything with frying, you can easily make use of crushed toast peanuts.

Ya-Cai is one of the three most chief and famed preserved vegetables in Sichuan cookery. The other two are a black salted turnip and pickled Zhacai. Making different types of preserved and pickled vegetables is one of the daily cooking chores in the Sichuan province. Traditionally, they keep a large jar of this ingredient.

Sichuan red oil makes the Tan Tan noodles slightly numbing and spicy. Even if you are not a fan of spicy ingredients, at least half tablespoon of the Sichuan red oil must be used to complete the overall flavor of the Tan Tan noodles. Since the red oil has to be made a minimum of 24 hours before use, the red color and the capsicum can be mixed with the oil well.

Other Tan Tan noodles recipe ingredients

Some other ingredients of the Tan Tan noodles include:

  • Two servings of fresh egg noodles
  • Pork stock or chicken stock
  • Blanched vegetables
  • Chopped scallion

For the fried soy beans, you will need:

  • Cooking oil for frying
  • ½ cup of soy beans

For the pork topping, you will need:

  • ½ tablespoon chili powder
  • One tablespoon of ya-cai
  • 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon of minced garlic
  • ½ tablespoon of minced ginger
  • Two tablespoons of cooking oil (separately from the fried soy beans oil)
  • ½ tablespoon of light soy sauce
  • ¼ tablespoon of white pepper
  • ½ tablespoon of salt
  • One cup of minced pork, with a little fat attached

For mixed seasoning, you will need:

  • One tablespoon of minced garlic
  • One tablespoon of sugar
  • A small pinch of salt
  • One tablespoon of black vinegar
  • One tablespoon of chili oil
  • One tablespoon of sesame oil
  • One tablespoon of light soy sauce
  • One tablespoon of sesame paste

How do you make it?

There will be three sessions of cooking while making the Tan Tan noodles. We will go through them one-by-one:

Frying the soy beans

  1. Pre-soak the soy beans and remove them only after they have become double in size. Take them out and drain them with a kitchen towel and dry them.
  2. Add three tablespoons of cooking oil in the wok. Once the oil has started heating up, add the soaked beans and stir till you hear a crackling sound.
  3. Once done, take the soy beans out and set them aside for cooling down naturally.

For making the pork topping (you can use any type of meat available)

  1. With a ½ tablespoon of light soy sauce, white pepper and a small pinch of salt, mix the minced pork properly and thoroughly
  2. Heat up one tablespoon of cooking oil. Add ginger and garlic into the pan and stir till you smell the fragrance.
  3. Once done, add the minced pork to the mix and keep on stirring it till it is crisp. Then add one tablespoon of dark soy sauce to improve the coloring of the pork.
  4. Keep of stirring the pork on all sides. While doing so, add one tablespoon of oil. Then add the ya-cai, separate it and mix it quickly with the pork.
  5. Once done, add a little chili powder, which is optional, and mix well. Once done, remove the contents of the pan and keep them aside.

Cook the noodles and serve the Tan Tan noodles

  1. Mix all the seasonings that you will use for serving and divide it into two portions. Remember to put them in different serving bowls, not the same one. Next, pour about ½ cup of the pork stock.
  2. In hot boiling water, cook the noodles according to the instructions given on the package. Add the blanch vegetables directly in the last minute when the noodles are ready to be served. Place the noodles to the serving bowl.
  3. With the pork topping you made previously, top the noodle up. Pour the hot pork stock along the edges.
  4. Lastly, add the fried soy beans and the green beans. Remember to serve it immediately.

How do you serve the Tan Tan noodles?

You should remember that large ramen noodle bowls should not be used to serve the Tan Tan noodles. You can make use of small bowls and serve with a small amount of tan tan noodle soup bases like pork stock or chicken stock. This way, the noodle can be eaten up within minutes, when the meat is still crisp and the dish is still hot.

Before mixing, the dish should be a little soupy. After mixing, the Tan Tan noodles should look like a lo mien.

Other variations of this delicious noodles

Tantanmen is the Japanese version of the yummy Sichuan Tan Tan noodles. The Japanese spicy noodles swim freely in a very well-balanced soup that has a hot spiciness of the rayu Japanese chili oil and the mellow nutty sweetness from the sesame paste and the soy milk.

The difference between the Tantanmen and the Tan Tan noodles is that the latter does not come with soup by the former comes with a spicy chili-flavored soup. Both come with chili flavors and miso pork (or any other meat) mince.

The base soup is made out of soy milk and torigara soup. Soy milk makes the spiciness of the rayu a bit mild and tolerable. The soup also consists of shallots, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame seeds and zasai. Zasai is the pickled mustard plant stem that is also used in many Chinese dishes. Most people like eating it with plain rice, so you will always see a small jar of it that people purchase from local Japanese grocery stores.

The Chimajan, or also known as the sesame paste, can be bought via any Asian grocery store. The Rayu is the Japanese chili oil that is infused with chili. This ingredient is used to make the Tantanmen soup and also the gyoza dipping sauce. Rayu is a very easy ingredient that you can find at almost all major supermarkets around the world.

The torigara soup is the chicken stock soup that Japanese people often make use of to make Chinese dishes at home. You can either make this soup from scratch or simply purchase a ready-to-eat package from any Asian grocery store.

Instead of the chimajan, can you make use of tahini?

The chimajan is the sesame paste from China and differs from the tahini. While tahini consists of raw sesame seed paste, the chinajan makes use of toasted sesame seed paste. Both have very different taste and it is not recommended that you use the chimajan.

What kinds of ramen noodles can one use?

You can make use of the dry noodle called Raoh, which comes with a soup sachet that tastes like the Tantanmen soup. Although this noodle takes a longer time to cook, it is still better than the 2-minute noodles. Alternatively, you can make use of the egg noodles as well.

What are the different toppings variations?

Classically the pork mince is used with pakchoy and sweet miso paste for the topping. But you can get creative and make use of anything else as well. There are people that make use of the miso egg. Also, chashu is a great ingredient to add as well if you are not a fan of pakchoy. You can also make use of spinach.

What is the main thing you need to remember to make the best tantanmen?

You should remember to keep your timing precise. Make use of finely chopped zasai and shallots. Make the best use of the time and never be afraid to get creative with the toppings. It will be worth it.

Conclusion

The tan tan noodles are one of the most popular street food items in China. But, as said above, it is quite difficult to point out an authentic tan tan noodle dish. While there are a lot of different variations of the dish, it should be remembered that it is very easy to make and will make be one of the yummiest things you have ever tasted.

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Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis is a frelance writer and foodie based in Portland, California. Though raised on her mother's homestyle Italian cooking, she has spent most of the last five years traveling and immersing herself in other countries' cuisines. Her work have been published in various publications, both online and offline.

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