meriko's made me tan tan noodles (aka dan dan noodles) several times — tasty fat noodles in a rich peanut sauce — and tonight I made them for the second time. The basic recipe is in Terry Durack's Noodle cookbook, but tonight it was Danger Noodle: No measuring, and a very loose attitude toward the printed ingredient list. So that's what you get from me, hope that's okay, here we go.
First I put water on to boil while I worked on the sauce. I started with some peanut oil in a saute pan, with just a little additional touch of sesame oil for additional flavor. I chopped up a couple of shallots and a couple of cloves of garlic and threw them, plus a handful of sesame seeds, over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, then added half a pound of ground turkey. By the book you should toast the sesame seeds in the pan until they start to brown before adding the oil. Tofu or ground pork would be fine too. Salt, pepper, and five-spice. Fresh ginger, grated, would be good, but I didn't have any.
Next add lots of peanut butter. The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of either sesame paste or peanut butter — we haven't tried the sesame paste route yet — but I think I used about twice that much. Meat or veg stock goes in to dissolve the peanut butter; keep adding it as needed. The sauce needs to be pretty thick to stick the meaty/tofu bits to the noodles, but add a lot of stock at the beginning to get the peanut butter mixed in.
Ideally you're going to season this to be a bit sweet, tangy, and as spicy-hot as you like it. For the sweet, you can use mirin (sweet cooking sake) or plain ol' sugar; I probably oversweetened. Recipe calls for two teaspoons sugar. For tangy, chinese black vinegar is probably best, but I ran out and added a little balsamic vinegar and some champagne vinegar. Recipe calls for one tablespoon, but keep adding it until it balances the sweet. I didn't add enough and the sweet dominated. I should have used some worcestershire sauce, too; if you have some asian fishie sauce, that works. Soy sauce and white vinegar would probably do in a pinch. For spicy-hot, I used Thai sriracha chili sauce, a squirt in the sauce and the bottle brought to table for individual seasoning — meriko likes hers far spicier than I do. The recipe calls for chili oil, but whatever you have for heat will work fine, whole chilis, chili powder, transuranic oxides.
At some point in there you throw your noodles in the boiling water. I used about 6 ounces of dry wide-flat udon and cooked 8 minutes; this was just enough for the two of us. Obviously fresh noodles weigh more and take far less cooking time. We've found frozen fresh udon at asian markets which has the chew of fresh but keeps in the freezer forever.
Get the sauce to the right consistency by alternately adding stock and/or water and cooking over medium heat. You're looking for something a bit thicker than a thick italian tomato sauce in consistency. The peanut butter and sugar will keep it plenty thick. Drain and rinse the noodles, dish it up in a wide bowl, apply the sauce generously. If the sauce is thick enough the chunky bits won't all fall off the noodles.
The recipe suggests blanched bean sprouts and chopped green onions for garnish; we usually don't bother.Posted by russell on October 02, 2002 | TrackBack