Dan Dan Mian (Dan Dan Noodles 担担面)
What is it?
The classic noodle dish is a Sichuan favourite. Sichuan food, one of the four great traditions of Chinese cuisine, is famous for its tongue-numbing dishes. Dan dan mian is a classic example; a spicy sauce served over plain white noodles.
The recipe for the spicy sauce can vary but traditionally contains pickled vegetables, chilli oil (lots of it), Sichuan peppercorns, peanuts, minced pork and scallions.
The resulting dish balances the five flavours essential to Sichuan cooking – salty, sour, sweet, spicy, and numbing.
Why is it famous?
Dan dan mian used to be a street food but is now ubiquitous to Sichuan restaurants across the country.
It was believed that during the Qing Dynasty, a man named Chen Baobao from Zigong, Sichuan Province sold noodles on the street. To travel easily between twisting alleys and ramshackle houses, he put a carrying pole (a dan zi) on his shoulder, with two baskets on each side, one holding the stove, the other noodles and pots. Over time, his savoury and fiery noodles gained such notoriety people started calling it ‘dan dan mian’ which if translated literally means ‘peddler’s noodles’. To this day, dan dian mian is served more like a snack than as a main dish.
Where to eat it?
Sichuan cuisine is very popular in Beijing. If you don’t mind an earthier ambiance, you will find locals slurping away at Chuan Zai Dan Dan Mien, Chongwen district, No. 3 Chong Wen Men Wai Road, Beijing; Tel: 86-10-6713-1191).
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