Dan Dan Mian

I’m all about minimalism when it comes to kitchen equipment, and I’ve tried to get by without thermometers. Thus, I scorched my first batch of chili oil. The apartment reeked of smoke and the resulting oil tasted like charcoal. 

Oh, also, the above photo features the “sad woman sauce.” My friend brought it along and explained how it’s ubiquitous in China and like crack. The chili oil with black bean sauce goes on everything, even spicy noodles!

Recipes from the ever consistent thewoksoflife.com (plus dedicated chili oil recipe).


Dan Dan Mian (Szechuan Spicy Noodles)

  • Brown 1 lb ground pork. Add 1 tbsp sweet bean sauce/hoisin sauce, 1 tbsp shaoxing wine, 1.5 tsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp five spice powder, cook until evaporated.
  • Optionally, separately saute 1/3 cup suimiyacai (couldn’t find it)
  • Prepare 1 lb white noodles.
  • Blanch 1/2 bunch leafy greens, like baby bok choy.
  • Prepare sauce: 2 tbsp sesame paste, 3 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp five spice powder, 1/2 tsp szechuan peppercorn powder, 1/2 cup chili oil (below), 3 cloves garlic minced, 1/4 cup hot cooking water from noodles.
  • Garnish with 1/4 cup chopped peanuts, 4 scallions sliced long obliquely. Serves 4.

Chili Oil

  • 1 cup oil, 2 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns, 2 star anise, 1 bay leaf, 1 Chinese cinnamon stick (1” fragment Indian cinnamon). Heat until lightly bubbly, then maintain there on low heat for 30 minutes.
  • Strain. Cool oil for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in 1/3 cup Asian red pepper flakes, 1 tsp salt. Done when cooled.