Dan dan Noodles

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I first ate these not on the spice-scented streets of Chengdu, but in the rather less exotic environs of London’s Soho. Barshu might not have been the first Sichuan restaurant to open in the capital but it is certainly the best. Sichuan’s famed ‘hot and numbing’ flavour is based on chilli and the wonderfully citrus Sichuan pepper. This is a classic Sichuan street snack. If you can’t find the preserved vegetables, don’t worry.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon groundnut oil
  • 3 Sichuan dried chillies, snipped in half, seeds discarded
  • ½ teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorns
  • 25 g/1 oz Sichuan ya cai or tianjin preserved vegetable, thinly sliced
  • 100 g/ oz minced beef
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 300 g/10½ oz dried Chinese noodles
  • spring onions, green part only, cut into thin rounds, to garnish

For the Sauce

  • 1½–1 teaspoon ground roasted Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chilli oil, with chilli sediment

Method

Heat the oil in a wok over a medium heat. When it is hot but not smoking, add the chillies and Sichuan peppercorns and stir-fry briefly until the oil is fragrant. Take care not to burn the spices.

Add the ya cai or preserved vegetable and continue to stir-fry until hot and fragrant. Add the minced beef, splash in the soy sauce and stir-fry until the meat is brown and a little crisp, but not too dry. When the meat is cooked, remove the wok from the heat and set aside.

To make the sauce, combine the ingredients, divide between 2 serving bowls and mix well.

Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet. Drain them and add a portion to the sauce in each serving bowl. Sprinkle each bowl with the meat mixture and give the noodles a good stir until the sauce and meat are evenly distributed. Serve garnished with spring onions.