a portland chinese new year

On the eve of Chinese New Year I’m feeling that twinge. The twinge of wishing I was back in the Bay Area at my mother-in-law’s house making dumplings for the holiday. The twinge of wishing I was hanging out with my husband’s family celebrating the new year. Instead, we are going to check out a promising Taiwanese/Chinese restaurant in Portland. They make their own Chinese sausage and serve a lot of my husband’s Taiwanese favorites. I’m hoping we’ll be able to talk to the owners and find out where they source their ingredients and if they’re interesting in adopting a Caucasian daughter figure. Ok, maybe not the latter, but I definitely would love to talk with them. 

I don’t pretend to have a bunch of Chinese cooking knowledge in my wheelhouse. However, cooking alongside my mother-in-law, I have learned a lot. The recipe I’m sharing with you today is one that I make often. I clipped the recipe a few years back, made it for my husband, and was told that it’s pretty spot on authentic. That’s all I needed to hear for Dan Dan Noodles to jump into my cooking rotation.

It’s a recipe from David Chang of the Momofuku restaurant empire in NY. However, I’ve dined at several of his spots over the years and have yet to see this recipe on any of the menus.

It’s quick, easy, flavorful and most important, authentic. Or so I’m told.

Happy Year of the Ram!

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My kitchen notes

I typically use Taiwan noodles, but I haven’t been able to source the brand in Portland. However, any type of Asian wheat noodle will work. Heck, you can even use spaghetti or angel hair pasta if you want. This Shandong noodle is what I found in Portland, and it worked well.

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Dan Dan Noodles, or Dandan Mien – adapted from David Chang of Momofuku 

Serves 2 to 3

8 ounces Shanghai-style noodles

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

12 ounces ground pork

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger

3/4 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons chili oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

4 teaspoons tahini (sesame paste)

1 teaspoon Sichaun peppercorns

Pinch of sugar

Thinly sliced green onions for topping

Chopped cilantro for topping

Thinly sliced cucumbers for topping

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1. Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water until just tender.

2. Heat vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add ground pork, season with salt and pepper. Stir, breaking up pork with a spoon, until halfway cooked.

3. Add ginger, cook until pork is cooked through and lightly browned.

4. Stir in chicken stock and next 6 ingredients, simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

5. Spoon pork mixture over noodles. Garnish with green onions, cilantro and cucumbers.

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