Peddler’s noodles


Dan dan mian, or peddler’s noodles, are a favourite in my family, and in many Chinese restaurants. There are many versions of these noodles, but in my opinion the best one is soupy, enriched with buttery sesame paste and speckled with amber flecks of chilli oil. I like to perk mine up with a dollop of peanut butter, which is not traditional but lends the broth a marvellous nutty undertone. Eat piping hot… and slurping is mandatory.

Use tamari in place of soy sauce, and rice or buckwheat noodles instead of wheat.

Depending on how much chilli oil you use.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes


  • 4 nests (200 g) dried wheat noodles
  • 2 cups (500 ml) hot vegetable stock sliced
  • sliced spring onion (scallion), sesame seeds and chilli oil, to serve


  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cm ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, very finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 cup (80 g) soy mince, prepared
  • pinch of white pepper


  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 teaspoons peanut butter – optional
  • ½ teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2–4 teaspoons chilli oil


First, prepare the mince. Pour the oil into a wok or frying pan over medium heat and fry the garlic, ginger and shallot until fragrant, about 3 minutes, then add the spring onions and dark soy sauce. Fry for 2 minutes before adding the drained soy mince and pepper, then continue frying for another 3–4 minutes so the mince is heated right through, and is starting to look dry and fluffy. Cover and set aside.

Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. For the sauce, whisk the sesame oil, tahini, peanut butter (if using), sugar, light soy sauce, chilli oil and 1 tablespoon water into a smooth paste. Divide between four bowls.

Drain the noodles and divide between the bowls. Toss the noodles in the sauce, then pour ½ cup (125 ml) hot stock into each bowl. Add a large spoonful of the mince mixture, then garnish with sliced spring onion, sesame seeds and more chilli oil, if desired.