Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dinner FAIL (Dan Dan Noodles)

I love dan dan noodles.  So, when I saw Martin Yan's recipe in my copy of Feast, I was eager to try it out.  However, I made one critical mistake.  I saw "sesame paste" in the ingredient list and figured hey, tahini is sesame paste, right? Wrong.  Well, yes, tahini is sesame paste.  But, it's not the same thing as East Asian sesame paste, as I was about to discover upon eating my rather unappetizing looking creation.  The sauce smelled quite good when it was sitting harmlessly in a bowl.  Sesame, soy sauce, and  hint of spice.  But, as soon as I cooked in the work with the chicken, it became a gooey, sticky mess.  It was even harder to toss it with the noodles.  But I soldiered on, determined to enjoy my noodles.  After taking a few bites, I found myself trying to like it, but the rational part of my mind realized that this was a massive dinner fail.  The tahini was too creamy, it felt like I had taken my noodles and smothered them in bleu cheese dressing.  The sesame taste was overpowering.  The texture was weird. And it just looked nasty. 

This does not look like the pictures on Google image search...

Now, I'm sure that this bowl of fail has nothing to do with Martin Yan's recipe.  Next time I see sesame paste in a Chinese recipe, I'm going to go out and buy the real thing. Hopefully my second attempt at dan dan noodles will look more like food. 

Thankfully, I made a spicy cucumber salad to go with the noodles, and it turned out great!  It was easy, quick, and I will definitely make it again. I didn't have a red onion, so I used a Spanish onion and it worked, but I can see why a red onion would work better. I also omitted the cooked shrimp, which makes this salad vegetarian.  It had quite a kick to it with the chili garlic sauce, but the sesame oil and coolness of the cucumbers balanced it out. 

Dan Dan Noodles
from Feast
Serves 2 very hungry people (or leftovers)

2 Tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp corn starch

1/2 pound minced chicken, pork, or beef (I used chicken)
12 ounces fresh Chinese egg noodles
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
Chopped Sichuan preserved vegetable (I didn't have this and omitted it)

1/2 cup sesame seed paste (NOT tahini)
3 Tbsp chicken broth
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp chili garlic sauce

1) Mix marinade ingredients in a bowl.  Add meat and stir well.  Let it sit for 10 minutes.
2) While the meat is marinating, mix the sauce ingredients together in a bowl.  Boil the noodles according to the package, rinse with cold water, and drain.
3) Heat a wok over high heat and then add the oil, swirling to coat the sides.  Add the meat and stir fry until browned and crumbly, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sauce and cook until it's heated through.
4) Pour the meat and sauce over the noodles and garnish with preserved vegetable.

Spicy Cucumber Salad
from Feast
Serves 4, but it served 2 last night because the main course was gross

1/4 cup lemon or lime juice (I used lemon)
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1.5 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp finely minced garlic
2 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp chili garlic sauce

2 tsp sesame seeds
1 English cucumber (or a regular one, seeded)
1 small red onion
1/2 red bell pepper
1 cup small cooked shrimp (I omitted this)

1) Combine the dressing ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
2) Place sesame seeds in a small skillet over medium heat and toast them about 2 minutes.  (I usually just take them off the heat when they smell toasty). Remove from pan and set aside.
3) Peel the cucumber (and seed it if it's not seedless). Cut it in half lengthwise and then slice thinly and place in a bowl.  Thinly slice the red onion and julienne the bell pepper and add to the bowl.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
4) To assemble the salad, pour dressing over it and toss. Serve topped with toasted sesame seeds.

1 comment:

Michelle Clay said...

HAHAHAHAHHAA! :D Thanks for the laugh!


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