Friday, December 18, 2009

Dan Dan Noodles

When I fall for a food, I fall hard. Lately, I can't stop thinking about the Dan Dan noodles I had at Seven Star Peppers. Now that I've done some research I know that saying Dan Dan noodles is almost like the Szechuan version of saying spaghetti sauce - it implies something very general. The dish that I love is the soupy, peanutty kind of Dan Dan so that's what I've tried to recreate here (with lots of help from a recipe I found in Food & Wine magazine and, of course, Johnny). If you haven't had good Dan Dan noodles you might not realize that you need to make this right now, immediately, tonight. I don't even have a picture to post because it was so good the night I made it that I was finished eating before I could think of getting the camera. I'll add a photo next time I make it (probably tomorrow because I could eat this every other day). Oh, I almost forgot one of the best parts - it takes maybe 15 minutes to make this.

Dan Dan Noodles
serves 4
printable version

1/4 c peanut oil (or other non-olive oil)
1/2 c toasted peanuts (use very plain toasted ones or toast them with the oil in a pan)
1 jalapeno, de-seeded and chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1/4 inch of ginger, skinned and chopped
5 T soy sauce
2 T water
2 T Sri Racha (Asian hot sauce that is widely available and good to have in the cupboard)
1 T sugar
2 t sesame oil

1 pound ground pork or chicken
2 c chicken stock
1 c slivered carrots
3 baby Bok Choys, or about 2 cups shredded cabbage
Noodles to serves 4 - I used Udon that I found in my grocery store, but you could use other Asian noodles or even fettuccine

  • Put all of the sauce ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Saute the pork in a pan large enough to have the noodles and sauce added later.
  • When the pork is done, add the Bok Choy and saute for a couple of minutes, just until the Bok Choy is wilted. 
  • Add the carrots and stock and heat through.
  • Add the cooked noodles (if you're using Udon noodles, don't cook them on the side first, just add them to the sauce and simmer for about a minute). Done.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Slow-cooked Leek and Proscuitto Pasta

That Jamie Oliver, he sure has a way with leeks. My Leek and Chick Pea Soup (that is pretty much everyone's favorite on this blog) was adapted from his recipe and now I had another adaption of one of his - Slow-cooked Leek and Proscuitto Pasta. This is so crazy good I lick my plate when we have it. I suggest making a huge batch of the slow-cooked leeks and keeping them on hand (they'll keep in the fridge for a week or two and would probably freeze fine, but I never have them around long enough to test that) for pasta or for an even faster version of the soup. This is a very monochromatic dish so I've been holding off posting it in hopes of having a good picture. Oh well, it's too good to keep secret any longer.

Slow-cooked Leeks & Prosciutto Pasta
serves 4
printable version

4 leeks
3 T butter
1 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 c chicken stock
1 c dry white wine
4-6 slices of prosciutto
1 pound rigatoni, penne, or similar pasta
grated Parmesan
  • Prep the leeks by cutting off the root end and the green top (I use the green up until it gets stiff, but leek purists don't use any green). Slice them lengthwise and then into thin half-moons. Leeks can have dirt in between their tight layers so I rinse mine well and then dry them in a salad spinner.
  • In a wide, deep frying pan, melt the butter and heat the oil (the bit of oil keeps the butter from browning). Add the leeks and garlic and saute for about 10 minutes or until you are just starting to see browning.
  • Add the wine and stock and then lay the slices of prosciutto over the top (see the photo above). You can substitute salami or ham, you'll just need enough to cover the leeks.
  • Reduce to a simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Do a couple checks to make sure the leeks aren't sticking, but don't stir in the prosciutto. If it seems like the pan is drying out you can put a lid half on and/or add a little water.
  • Prepare your pasta while the leeks are simmering.
  • Remove the prosciutto and slice it into thin pieces. Stir this into the leeks.
  • Toss the leeks with the cooked pasta, top with Parm. and you're done.
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