Easy Dan Dan Noodles (Vegetarian) Recipe

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By Barbara Hodge • Last Updated: December 23, 2023
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Easy Dan Dan Noodles

Spicy, umami rich deliciousness – these Japanese style dan dan noodles are addictive. Add one more easy plant based noodle recipe to your everyday cooking!

Dan Dan Noodles

Welcome to your new favourite noodle recipe! This dan dan noodle dish is super easy to make and will introduce sensational new spicy flavours to your cooking!

This dan dan noodles recipe is one of my favourite plant based noodles recipes. If you are looking for a hot, spicy and mouth watering noodle dish, you are in the right place!

What are Dan Dan Noodles
Credit: Instagram @doughzoneusa

What are Dan Dan Noodles?

Dan dan noodles originated from Sichuan/Szechuan, China. ‘A dan dan‘ refers to a carrying pole. On a pole over the shoulders, the noodles were carried and sold on the street. They put less liquid in this soup dish to make it lighter to carry.

Chén Jiànmín (Kenmin), a famous Chinese cuisine master chef from Sichuan, first brought the signature Sichuan dan dan noodles to Japan. Chén developed it into a more ramen broth full Japanese style dish. It’s called tantanmen.

Chén’s tantanmen ramen, based on the Chinese style dan dan noodle became popular at ramen restaurants in Hiroshima.

Restaurants there served it as ‘shirunashi tantanmen’. Shiru means soup, and nashi means less or without.

So Chen’s dan dan noodles and the tantanmen ramen based on it, have become very popular in Japan with many regional variations developing.

Japanese style dan dan noodles

While the dan dan style with less noodle soup was kept, Japanese ingredients were used to make it more familiar with local tastes. That’s how Japanese style dan dan noodles were born.

I’ve made this dan dan noodle dish as authentic as possible in a Japanese style, and of course it’s for vegetarian.

Why these Dan Dan Noodles are so Good?

I love the:

  • Noodles with plant based meat topping combination 
  • Japanese and Chinese hot spices, Rayu (Japanese chili oil) and Sichuan peppercorns
  • Rich and creamy sesame based dan dan noodle sauce

What makes this noodle dish really stand out from other spicy noodles is Sichuan peppercorns.

Rayu (Japanese chili oil) and Sichuan peppercorn are two different hot spicy ingredients which really bring the soup alive (and make it addictive). If you like a bit of spice, you’ll love dan dan noodles!

When you use the two hot spices, the chilli heat stimulates your senses, and keeps you coming back for more!

Ingredients for easy Japanese dan dan noodles

These spicy and flavorful dan dan noodles are easy to make. Your main task is to buy the right ingredients!

Ramen Noodle: Pick up eggless noodles from the shop. I prefer fresh ramen noodles, but dried noodles can be used. Ramen noodles have different thicknesses. Dan dan noodles work well with the medium thickness.

Shiitake: To make a delicious noodles recipe with no meat, I tried some different plant based ingredients for the toppings. One of my favourites for this recipe is mushroom – especially shiitake. It’s full of flavour and works perfectly.

Ground Sichuan peppercorn is one of the important seasonings for Chinese cuisine. It has a strong and enticing aroma and a real flavour kick! What we are going to use is the red exterior peppercorns and black peppers. Pick up the grounded pepper corn package at a store.

Japanese rayu is essential for this authentic dan dan noodle recipe! Rayu is Japanese capsicum based chili oil. It’s getting common to find at everyday local supermarkets these days. Rayu can also be easily found at a local Japanese food store.

Sesame paste: I recommend Chinese sesame paste, chimajan for this recipe. It’s easy to find at your local supermarket. Japanese sesame paste, nerigoma, is also very good if you can find it.

Sesame Oil: Use only toasted sesame oil which adds more flavour for the ramen soup. Choose dark coloured sesame oil. The yellow coloured sesame oil is not toasted and has less flavor.

How to make Dan Dan Noodles

This is a super easy noodle recipe! The only thing you need to do is to toss the ingredients into one bowl!

1. Plant based meat topping

For the topping, I have made plant based mince meat with shiitake mushrooms and flavoured them with Japanese ingredients.

2. dan dan sauce

Find your favourite noodle bowl. Add ingredients into it one by one and mix them up well. The dan dan sauce is ready!

The rich umami and thick sesame paste can sink to the bottom of the sauce. So mix it up well in a jar before tossing it to the bowl.

3. How to boil noodles

Prepare a large pan and boil the water. Ramen noodles need to swim thoroughly in plenty of hot water.

Separate the noodles a bit by hand and throw them into the boiled water. Or you can loosen them on a plate in advance. No need to stir them in the boiling water while noodles are still hard. Wait for a bit until they are softened.

Make sure you have drained the water completely once they are cooked. This is a must!

4. Bringing it together

Once you put the cooked noodles into the soup, add the topping and ground Sichuan peppercorn. Garnish with a crushed peanut, spring onion and chili. That’s it! Serve immediately!

Tips for the Best Dan Dan Noodle

Tips for the Best Dan Dan Noodle
Credit: Instagram @joyonyork

Tahini or sesame paste

Chimajan is toasted sesame paste while tahini is raw sesame seed paste. Tahini doesn’t work so well for this recipe. I tried both tahini and sesame paste, but chimajan and nerigoma (sesame paste) are darker, nuttier and stronger in flavour. I recommend them more than dan dan noodles with tahini.

Peanut butter or sesame paste

If you really can’t find chimajan or Japanese nerigoma, you can try peanut butter. Dan dan noodles with peanut butter works ok. Add one teaspoon of toasted sesame oil to one tablespoon of peanut butter.

How to keep the texture of the ramen noodle

I wash the cooked ramen noodle with cold water to get rid of excess flour. This is optional, but it taste better although it takes extra. Cold water adds a firmer texture into ramen noodle.

Easy Dan Dan Noodles

Dan Dan Noodles (Vegetarian) Recipe

Barbara Hodge
Spicy, umami rich deliciousness – these Japanese style dan dan noodles are addictive. Add one more easy noodle recipe to your everyday cooking.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 1 people

Ingredients
  

Plant based mince meat

  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • cup  shiitake
  • cup  peanuts
  • 2 teaspoons green onion
  • 1 clove  garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger minced
  • ½ tablespoon Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon miso
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ tablespoon sake

Dan dan noodles sauce

  • 1 tablespoon chimajan  ( or Japanese nerigoma)
  • 1 tablespoon rayu  (Japanese chili oil or find homemade rayu recipe)
  • 3 tablespoons hot water (or soy milk)
  • ½ tablespoon Japanese rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon  sugar
  • ½ clove  garlic (grated)

Noodles & Topping

  • 4 ramen noodles (130g no egg)
  • 1 green onion coarsely chopped
  • ½ rayu  (optional to make more spicy)
  • ½ ground Sichuan pepper corns
  • 1 toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Instructions
 

Plant based mince meat

  • Cook finely chopped shiitake, walnuts, green onion, garlic and ginger with sesame oil in a pan at medium heat for two minutes.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for one minute. Set aside.

Dan dan sauce

  • Place soy sauce, chimajan, rayu, rice vinegar, sugar and sesame oil in a bowl. Mix them up well with boiled water. Set aside.

Noodles and topping

  • Cook noodles in the boiled water in a large pan by following the instructions on the packet. When you throw noodles in the pan, loosen them by hand. I prefer a little less time than the instructions (say 30 seconds) to keep the firm texture of the noodle. Noodles need to swim thoroughly in the hot water. It's important to drain water completely.

Bringing it all together

  • Pour the cooked noodles into the noodle bowl and combine with the sauce. Top off with the plant based mince meat and ground Sichuan peppercorn. Add more rayu and Sichuan peppercorn if you want more kick.
    Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Notes

Topping
You can top up any vegetables you desire. I boiled bok choy for 1 minute with the noodles. Added chopped spring onion.
 
Chimajan, nerigoma or tahini?
Chinese sesame paste, chimajan, is recommended because it’s easy to find in your local supermarkets and tastier than tahini for this dish. Japanese sesame paste, nerigoma, is also very good. Chimajan and nerigoma give the fullness of sesame flavour.