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The Chinese Takeout Cookbook’s Dan Dan Mien Recipe

by Jeanette on February 22, 2013 · 28 Comments
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Chinese Take-Out Dan Dan Mien © Jeanette's Healthy Living

You might think I’m a bit obsessed with Dan Dan Mien, the spicy, garlicky, peanut buttery noodles that are found on many Sichuan restaurant menus. Recently, I made Steamy Kitchen’s Dan Dan Mien, which my kids loved, and last night, I decided to give Diana Kuan’s version a try from her recently released her first cookbook, The Chinese Takeout Cookbook. Diana Kuan is the writer behind Appetite for China and a cooking teacher.

Dan Dan Mien or Noodles (担担面) is considered street food in Sichuan (Dan Dan Mien actually translates into peddler’s noodles). The sauce typically contains preserved vegetables of some sort, chili oil, Sichuan peppercorns, minced pork and scallions, and is served over noodles. Although authentic Dan Dan Mien from Sichuan doesn’t appear to use sesame paste, here in the U.S., it seems roasted sesame paste or peanut butter are added for a  thicker, sweeter sauce.

My sister happened to be visiting for a few days, so she was one of my taste testers for Diana Kuan’s Dan Dan Mien recipe. Although I have never tried authentic Dan Dan Mien, I think my sister has, at least that’s what we concluded after doing a little more research and digging around. My sister has eaten Dan Dan Mien in several authentic Sichuan restaurants and recalled a nest of noodles sitting in a pool of spicy sauce, so spicy that all you can taste is the chili oil, topped with super salty meat.

Szechuan Dan Dan Mien © Jeanette's Healthy Living

As Diane Kuan says on her blog, the dan dan noodles you would find in Sichuan province are so spicy that it “is almost impossible for mortals (non-Sichuan-native) to slurp.” That sounds consistent with the Dan Dan noodles my sister has had at the more authentic Sichuan restaurants.

This version of Dan Dan Mien is a toned down version, not as spicy and sweetened up with some sesame paste. It does have some zing from Sichuan peppercorns. If you’ve never tried Sichuan peppercorns, the first time you do, you might sense a numbing sensation in your mouth – that’s the “ma-la” sensation that you can only get from these special peppercorns.

Sichuan Dan Dan Mien © Jeanette's Healthy Living

I’m so glad I was able to try this version of Dan Dan Mien and share it with my sister – we had lots of fun trying to figure out what the difference between the various versions of Dan Dan Mien. Both Jaden and Diana’s Dan Dan Mien are worth trying – Jaden’s is milder in flavor and doesn’t use any Sichuan peppercorns (more kid-friendly) and Diana’s is spicier and has a richer sauce (because of the sesame paste). I’m a huge Asian noodle fanatic, so I’m adding both to my noodle repertoire.

In addition to celebrating the release of her new cookbook, Diana will be hosting a Chinese New Year Virtual Potluck on her blog, Appetite for China, on February 25th where she will share all the recipes that bloggers have made for Chinese New Year showcasing her recipes this month,  adapted to suit their own lifestyle. Please be sure to check it out.

5 from 1 reviews
The Chinese Takeout Cookbook’s Dan Dan Mien Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Adapted from Diana Kuan's Dan Dan Noodles recipe. I made these gluten-free using rice noodles and gluten-free soy sauce. I highly recommend using Chinese sesame sauce from the Asian market, which is made using roasted sesame seeds; however, you could substitute tahini sauce.
Serves: 2-3
Meat Topping
  • 6 ounces ground turkey or chicken
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Sichuan preserved vegetable (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces dried rice noodles or other gluten-free noodles
  • 1 handful dry-roasted peanuts, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup chicken stock or water
  • 2 tablespoons gluten-free low-sodium soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon Chinese sesame paste or tahini
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese black rice vinegar, or substitute good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chili oil (add more if you like it spicier)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain the noodles, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Transfer the noodles to a serving dish.
Meat Topping
  1. Heat a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the base and sides. Add the garlic, ginger, white parts of the scallions, and optional Sichuan preserved vegetable and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the meat and stir-fry until the meat is a little crispy on the outside and no longer pink. Add rice wine to deglaze the pan. Season with salt to taste.
Dan Dan Noodle Sauce
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the chicken stock, soy sauce, sesame paste, vinegar, chili oil, sesame oil, sugar, and Sichuan pepper.
To Serve
  1. Toss noodles with sauce. Portion noodles into bowls. Spoon the cooked meat mixture over the noodles, sprinkle the chopped scallions greens and chopped peanuts on top, and serve.
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  1. Yummy!

  2. Beautiful pictures Jeanette!!! So glad you were able to join in to the Virtual Potluck – how fun :)

  3. So happy you and your sister enjoyed the recipe, Jeanette! And your photos are gorgeous; they make me want to make dan dan noodles for lunch again. And thanks for taking part in the potluck!

    • Thanks Diana – can’t wait to see your new cookbook. My sister and I had fun trying some of your noodle recipes, including the dan dan noodles and your sesame noodles.

  4. Jeanette, this looks amazing! Pinning to remember …..

  5. FInally made it to your blog.Sounds like a great cookbook.
    This looks really good!

  6. I’ve never heard of Dan Dan Mein, but it looks wonderful!

    • Carolyn – Dan Dan Mien (at least this Americanized version) is kind of like sesame noodles but with a spicy kick to it.

  7. Hi! This looks delicious. But what is chopped Sichuan preserved vegetable?

  8. Love your recent anything dan dan obsession, Jeanette. Lovely dish as all the others in this series. Seems like great for a weekend lunch! Seems so flavorful, just like we like it! :)

    • I have become so obsessed with dan dan mien and am trying all different versions. Although I’ve never been to Sichuan province, would love to one day to see what an authentic dan dan mien is supposed to taste like. Meanwhile, having fun with all variations – they are all good!

  9. Can’t wait to try this it looks yummy!

  10. I was SO close to trying tis recipe instead of the Kung Pao… in fact I probably will make it as well, just not under time pressure for her event! Looks great and glad to have your review…

  11. Appetite for China is such a great blog–I’m going to have to check out this book! I make a vegetarian version of Dan Dan noodles & they’re always a favorite around here. :)

  12. I made Diana’s sesame noodles & they were wonderful. I need to try this recipe out now!

  13. I just made Dan Dan Noodles for lunch but not your recipe! I had mine before I read your blog today but next time I’ll try yours, sounds so yummy. BTW, do you have a recipe for Jian Bing? We loved them in Shanghai. Thank you Jeannette.

  14. I love all things noodles! So it goes without saying that I love dan dan noodles. I so want to try your version. Looks delicious!

  15. This is like every kind of awesome. Also I’m drooling all over the place. Gotta try to make this. Pinned!

  16. Deasora Brown says:

    They look so good. Never had peanut sauce before. Is it sweet?

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