Kinda-Sorta Dan Dan Noodles

Part II in my inadvertent series:  Kinda-Sorta.  Dan Dan is a Chinese dish of minced or ground meat in a very spicy sauce, served over noodles.  Dan Dan noodles are nice and thick.  Udon, thick chinese noodles, are traditionally used.  Thick spaghetti or linguine can be substituted.

I didn't have either.  Thought I did.  But I didn't.  Only gots thin spaghetti.  Still tasted good, but not the same mouthfeel.

The Dan Dan recipe I based this recipe on contained bamboo shoots.  Since I'm the only one who eats bamboo shoots, dumping in a can would be wasteful.  No problem, water chestnuts, though not authentic, are family-friendly and have a crunch.

Except the pantry was bare ... of water chestnuts.  No water chestnuts.  Twelve cans of tuna fish, but no water chestnuts.  A bottle of salsa verde, which I bought to use on something quite a while back and promptly forgot about until this moment, but no water chestnuts.  :P

So I grabbed a small can of sliced mushrooms.  No crunch, but at least everyone will eat it.

But the dish still needed that crunch.  Suddenly, a bag of formerly half can of baby corn was crying out (softly, you see, the baby corn was very tiny) from the bottom of the freezer.  It got rescued, defrosted and tossed in.

If your idea of spicy is an 1/8 teaspoon of pepper in an entire vat of chicken soup, use only 1 teaspoon of the chili paste.  Otherwise use the whole tablespoon called for, and enjoy the heat.

I also made several more substitutions and quantity changes.   So this is in essence the anti Dan Dan.  Visit kosherinthekitch for a more authentic yet still kosher version (yes, Virginia, there ARE some real kosher Chinese recipes out there).  But please come on back.  She has a bazillion readers and I only have a tiny bump on the bar chart.  So while you are at it, if you like my recipes, please tell your friends.  All of them.  I looked at your Facebook page.  You have at least 475 of them.

Kinda-Sort Dan Dan Noodles
Serves 5-6 (or 2 adults and 1 teenager), plus some extra beef mixture for lunch the next day

1 lb. regular spaghetti or linguine
1 lb. ground beef
2 Tbl. Sherry
1 Tbl. low sodium soy sauce
1-6 oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 of a 15 oz. can of baby corn
3 Tbl. vegetable oil
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 Tbl. low sodium Soy Sauce
1 tsp. to 1 Tbl. Sambal Oelek Chili Paste
2 Tbl. Rice Vinegar
1/4 tsp. Chinese Five Spice mixture
2 tsp. chopped garlic (bottled ok)
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

1 cup chicken broth
Additional soy sauce, if needed
2 scallions

Boil 4 quarts of water in a large pot.  Add spaghetti and cook according to package directions.  Drain.

Immediately after adding spaghetti to the boiling water, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, add ground beef.

Every minute or so (to allow meat to sear a little), use a spatula or wooden spoon to break up the beef.

When meat is completely browned (6-8 minutes), carefully drain off the grease. Return skillet back to the burner.  Add sherry and, using a wooden spoon, deglaze by scraping the brown bits that may still be sticking to the pan (if no browned bits, add sherry anyway for flavor).  Top beef with soy sauce, mushrooms and baby corn.  Remove beef mixture to a covered dish; set aside and keep warm.  Do not rinse or wipe skillet.

Create sauce by combining the next 8 ingredients (vegetable oil through black pepper) in a small bowl. 

Return greasy skillet to burner and heat over  medium flame.  Pour sauce into skillet and allow to simmer (which will happen within 30 seconds).

Add drained spaghetti and stir to distribute sauce.

Add broth to skillet (I pushed the spaghetti to the side to show broth).  Simmer a few minutes, then taste and add additional soy sauce if needed.

While broth is simmering, chop scallions.  If you need instructions on how to chop scallions, visit Monday's post.

Divide spaghetti mixture among individual pasta bowls (or dinner plates).   Top with meat mixture and sprinkle with scallions.  Serve hot.

No scallions on my serving?  Bummer!


Ameena said…
I had to laugh at the name of this recipe - it cracks me up because I do the same thing when I cook. I never have the basics on hand, nevermind unique things like water chestnuts.

Your Dan Dan noodles look delicious!!

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