Every time I make zoodles, I turn to Mike and say, “we really should eat more zoodles.” I’m a huge zucchini fan, regardless of how it’s cooked, but turn them into noodles and I’m a zucchini monster. Zoodles are delicious no matter what, but I think they’re especially good in this Japanese inspired take on dan dan noodles.
The inspiration for this dish is dan dan noodles, or dan dan mein. It’s an Sichuan noodle dish, full of pickled vegetables, spicy chili oil, and minced pork. It’s a popular dish in Japan, but there they interpret it more as a ramen noodle soup: chewy wheat noodles swim in a pork soup base seasoned with spicy bean sauce and a heavy hit of sesame paste.
Most noodle soups take a long time to make, but this one is practically instant – dare I say faster than cooking up a pack of instant ramen? It takes a bit of effort to source the ingredients, especially the chili bean sauce and sesame paste, but once you have them in your pantry, you’ve got the makings of many many bowls of spicy soup noodles.
Half the fun of cooking, I find, is sourcing weird ingredients. I love going on wild goose chases all over the city. You end up at interesting grocery stores and usually you find more than what you were looking for, in a good way. Luckily, chili bean sauce and sesame paste (the Chinese kind) can be found in most Asian grocery stores, so you won’t really be running all over. Ingredient hunting aside, I hope you give these noodles a try. They’re perfect for fall: spicy, nutty, soupy, and absolutely addictive.
Dan Dan Noodle/Zoodle Soup Recipe
- 4 cups of chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons chili bean sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame paste
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Crispy Pork Topping
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
- 1 sliced thai red chili
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 small zucchinis, spiralized using blade C or 2 servings of your favorite noodles
- sliced green onions for garnish
In a pot, heat up the chicken stock and stir in the chili bean sauce, sesame paste, soy sauce, and sugar. Taste and season accordingly. If you feel you need more of one ingredient or another, feel free to adjust. Keep the soup on a low simmer while you cook the meat.
In a small wok or frying pan, heat up the teaspoon of vegetable oil over medium high heat and add the minced garlic, shallots, and sliced chili. Fry until fragrant, but not browned. Add the ground pork and cook, crumbling until the pork is brown and crispy. Add the soy sauce, and sesame oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
Turn the heat up on the soup and when boiling, cook the zoodles briefly until just softened, 1-2 minutes. If using noodles, cook noodles according to the package and drain.
Place the zoodles/noodles in a bowl and top with soup and ground pork. Garnish with green onions and enjoy immediately!
PS – Before I head off, if you don’t have a Spiralizer yet, please consider this one. It was designed by Ali, the queen of all thing spiralized and I have to say, it works really well! You don’t have to manually change the blades and the suction pads on the bottom are really solid.