This quick and easy vegan dan dan noodles recipe combines chewy soft udon noodles, a salty-spicy peanut sauce, Chinese 5 spice garlic mushrooms, and chilli oil (optional for younger family members) for this comforting vegan version of a Sichuan classic street food, dan dan noodles. On the table in 30 minutes, it is perfect for busy weeknights.
What are Dan Dan Noodles?
Originating from the Sichuan province of China, Dandan noodles, or dandanmian mean ‘carrying pole noodles,’ referring to the type of carrying pole, the ‘dan dan,’ that was used by street vendors as they walked the streets selling the dish to passers by. Traditionally made with ground / minced pork, I have used mushrooms instead. I have also replaced some of the more difficult to find ingredients with ones available at your local shop so you can easy make da dan noodles at home. Spicy, creamy, salty, this comforting vegan noodle recipe has it all.
Why we love this recipe
- This vegan noodle recipe is one that meat eaters love too. You really won’t miss the fact there is no meat.
- I have adapted the traditional Sichuan noodle recipe to make it a dish you can make with ingredients from your local supermarket. Chinese 5 spice replaces Sichuan peppercorns, and capers are used in place of Chinese pickles
- A simple 2 ingredient homemade spicy chilli oil provides heat (if you want spice!)
- You can add as much or as little chili oil as you like making it a great family meal. Those wanting chilli heat can have it and those not wanting any chilli at all will be catered for too.
Ingredients notes and substitutions
- Udon noodles – I personally love using these thick Japanese wheat noodles, but you can use any medium thickness noodles you like.
- Mushrooms – Regular white button mushrooms are in place of the traditional pork topping. You can use any type of mushroom you like: roughly chopped portobello, cremini mushrooms, fried oyster mushrooms.
- Chinese 5 spice – this common and easy to find spice blend replaces Sichuan peppercorns.
- Spring onions – scallions, green onions.
- Capers – I use sharp salty capers in vinegar in place of Chinese pickles used in the authentic Dan Dan noodles recipes. Capers are optional.
- Peanut butter – This is in place of Chinese sesame paste. Use unsweetened natural peanut butter. Sweetened peanut butter would be too sweet and would ruin the taste! I like to use smooth peanut butter, but you can use crunchy if you prefer.
- Soy sauce – light soy sauce.
- Chilli flakes – red pepper flakes, dried chilli flakes
- Oil – any neutral oil
- Rice wine vinegar – provides a gentle sharpness. You can substitute with white wine vinegar.
How to make this recipe
- First make the chilli oil by gently heating dried chilli flakes in some neutral flavoured oil for 30 seconds, taking off the heat before they start to sizzle. Put to one side.
- In a small bowl mix the sauce ingredients together: peanut butter, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and a little of the chilli oil.
- Cook the noodles in boiling water according to packet instructions. Fry the mushrooms over a medium-high heat until the mushrooms are beginning to turn golden, then add the whites of the spring onions and grated ginger.
- Cook for 1 minutes then add the ground cloves, Chinese 5 spice, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and chopped capers.
- Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms and dark and syrupy.
- Divide the peanut sauce between 2-3 bowls.
- Top with cooked noodles.
- The spoon over the cooked mushrooms, top with extra chilli oil and the greens of the spring onions and serve.
Dan Dan sauce is a thick sauce traditionally made with Chinese sesame paste, Sichuan pepper, vinegar, soy sauce, chilli oil and minced pork.
Soba noodles, udon noodles, Rice noodles and Korean noodles are all made without eggs and are vegan. Other noodles may be vegan, check that they don’t contain eggs.
My recipe tips
- When making the chilli oil, do not cook the chilli flakes over too high a heat. They can burn very easily. If the chilli flakes start to sizzle in the oil, they will burn and you will have to start the chilli oil again.
- The recipe makes enough for 2 adults and a toddler, but you can easily double it.
- Remember to keep some of the noodle cooking water – this helps to thicken the peanut sauce and give it a glossy sheen.
- If you don’t have any noodles, this recipe also works well with spaghetti or linguine.
Keep in the fridge for up to 2 days. You can eat leftovers cold or reheat the noodles, mushrooms and peanut sauce in a saucepan over a medium to low heat with a little water until warmed through. Drizzle with chilli oil just before serving.
- Noodles: whilst fresh wheat noodles are best (those that are kept in the fridge), I often use dried udon noodles mainly because I often have them in the cupboard. You could use buckwheat soba noodles, ramen noodles or vegan egg noodles (Often made with flour and water without egg but called egg noodles because of the colour.) The noodles I recommend not using are the quick cook noodles, as that could take the dish into the direction of one big stodgy mess. If you are making vegetarian dan dan noodles, you can use egg noodles too.
- Tofu: you can use firm tofu as an alternative to mushrooms. Fry for a couple of minutes, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks to resemble mince.
- No peanut butter: If you have peanut allergies in the house then you can use tahini, it will have a different taste so if you can eat peanuts I suggest you use peanut butter.
- Store bought chilli oil: If you don’t want to make a chilli oil from scratch, use a bought chilli oil instead of making your own. Or you could mix siracha sauce with a little neutral flavoured oil.
- Gluten free: To make this into a vegan and gluten free noodles recipe you can use sweet potato noodles or rice noodles. Just note that the overall dish won’t have quite the same texture as using thicker udon noodles. Check your soy sauce is gluten free or use Tamari.
- Extra vegetables: serve some steamed or sautéed Chinese greens, bok choy, broccolini, bean sprouts on top of the Sichuan noodles.
- Other toppings: roughly chopped peanuts for a little crunch, or if you love spicy vegan noodles, sprinkle sliced fresh chilli over the top.
More easy vegan recipes for you
Vegan Dan Dan Noodles
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil such as vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes heaped
- 180 g udon noodles
- ½ tablespoon neutral oil
- 200 g mushrooms sliced
- 2 cm fresh ginger grated
- 2 spring onions finely sliced, whites for cooking and green parts for garnish
- small pinch cloves
- ¼ teaspoon Chinese five spice
- 1 teaspoon capers roughly chopped, optional
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- ½ tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter smooth
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon chilli oil
- 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
- 3-4 tablespoons noodle cooking water helps to thicken the sauce
To make the chilli oil:
- Put the chilli flakes and oil in a small saucepan over a low heat.
- Heat for 30 seconds – you want them to warm in the oil, not sizzle.
- Take off the heat and leave to infuse whilst you cook the rest of the dish.
- Cook the noodles according to packet instructions. Whilst they are boiling, cook the mushrooms.
- Put ½ tablespoon oil in frying pan and heat over high heat. Once hot add the mushrooms and cook over high heat until golden. Don’t stir too often – this will help them go brown.
- When the mushrooms start turning a deep golden brown, add the grated ginger and whites of the spring onions. Cook for a minute.
- Turn the heat down and add a pinch of cloves, Chinese five spice, capers, sesame oil, soy and vinegar. Stir to coat the mushrooms and cook for a minute or so until the liquid has evaporated.
- Mix the peanut butter with the soy sauce, chilli oil, rice wine vinegar and 3 tablespoons of the water the noodles have been cooked in. If too thick add a little extra water. (You want it to be thick but be able to pour it off a spoon.)
- Note: When you first mix the peanut butter with the soy sauce it will look grainy and thick, don’t worry it will thin, just keep whisking.
- Drain the noodles.
- Divide the sauce between 2-3 bowls, top with noodles, then the mushrooms.
- Sprinkle over the green parts of the onion.
- Serve straight away, with chilli oil at the table so the family can help themselves.
- To eat, mix the noodles, mushrooms and sauce together. Yum!
- Leaftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Why not try…
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