Believe us when we say you need to try these dry beef noodles. Now, we’re calling them dry beef noodles but this recipe is actually the beef version of Dan dan noodles! This dish is one of Lisa’s favorite recipes and a classic in our household with our friends.
Dan dan noodles are an easy-to-make, quick, and absolutely delicious dish that has a few ingredients you may or may not be familiar with.
These beef dan dan noodles are of three components:
- The sauce
- The seasoned dry beef
- Leafy greens + Noodles (of course)
Which is why in this post we’ll walk through these topics:
If you know your way around these noodles, then go ahead and skip this portion. But if you’re interested in learning a bit more about the ingredients and this Sichuan dish, then keep on reading.
P.S. If you want to know how to make your own chili oil, read through the post!
Where Does This Dish Originate From?
Dan dan noodles or Dan dan mian (担担面) is the iconic creamy and spicy noodles that originate from the Sichuan province of China. They’ve blown up on the food scene and many different variations can be found across the globe.
These noodles can differ from chef to chef. Some may make it less creamy, substitute Chinese sesame paste for tahini, add stock or broth to the mix to make the dish soupier. But what characterizes the dish as dan dan noodles are these ingredients:
- Sui Mi Ya Cai
- Chinese sesame paste
- Szechuan peppercorn
- Chili oil
Note: You can make this recipe without sui mi ya cai, Chinese sesame paste, and Szechuan peppercorns (we have done so many times) but chili oil is a key ingredient you can’t skip out on.
Key Ingredients & Substitutes
We are no strangers to the challenges of sourcing ingredients that are not typically found in the local grocers. With that being said, this should not be a reason to miss out on delicious food.
So, keep on reading for a bit of background about the key ingredients that go into making our dry beef noodles version of dan dan noodles.
What is Sui Mi Ya Cai?
Made from the stems of mustard greens, sui mi ya cai is a condiment that is native to southeast Sichuan. The mustard greens are dried and fermented in saltwater, after which they are boiled in a mixture of brown sugar and then fermented once more with a blend of spices.
Sui mi ya cai is not easy to get a hold of. If you have any other sort of pickled leafy or stalky greens then we recommend using that. We’ve heard some people use kimchi as a substitute. However, it should be noted that Sui mi ya cai is not spicy like kimchi but they do share the same salty characteristics.
Chinese Sesame Paste VS Tahini
This low FODMAP asian noodles recipe is tossed in a sauce that stars Chinese sesame paste. Not as elusive of an ingredient as sui mi ya cai but not your regular grocery store item either. It is important to note that Chinese sesame paste and tahini are not the same things.
Tahini is a thin paste made from raw and hulled sesame seeds. Whereas, Chinese sesame paste is made from toasted, whole sesame seeds. The former is thinner in texture and lighter in color with a mild taste while the latter is thicker, darker, and has a deep toasty flavor.
Here are three substitute ideas:
- Make your own:
You can easily make your own Chinese sesame paste by toasting sesame seeds and grinding or blending them into a smooth paste.
- Peanut butter + sesame oil:
Take a few tablespoons of unsweetened natural peanut butter and add in a teaspoon of sesame seed oil.
- Use tahini (we won’t tell or judge)
This is where the principle, “same same but different,” comes in.
Szechuan Peppercorns VS Regular Peppercorns
Szechuan peppercorns are native to China and are the by-product of the seed husks of the Chinese ash tree. In essence, these peppercorns aren’t spicier than black peppercorns but instead, they give a mouth-tingling sensation.
You can use black peppercorns as a substitute but it won’t replicate that tingling feeling Szechuan peppercorns give. Instead, we recommend leaving it out because the chili oil that goes into these low fodmap noodles will leave your tastebuds buzzing.
Let’s move on to the next ingredient that also leaves your mouth watering and face tingling.
The chili oil in this dish gives dan dan noodles that familiar punch. This ingredient is a key component in the sauce and can easily be found in grocery stores but if your local grocer doesn’t have this ingredient, you can easily make it at home.
All you really need is chili flakes and a neutral-flavored oil but if you have some other spices laying around then you can add it to the mix:
- 1 cup oil
- 1/4 cup chili flakes
*Optional but recommended:
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 2 star anise cloves
- 5 cloves
- 5 coriander pods
Start with ¼ cup dried chili flakes *(a stick of cinnamon, two star anise cloves, and five or so coriander pods and cloves) in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, heat up one cup of neutral-flavored oil (not olive oil). When the oil is hot but before it reaches smoking point, take it off the heat and dump the oil into the bowl of spices.
Note: Chili oil and chili sauce are not the same things! Please do not use sriracha as a substitute for this. We recommend using some oil and cayenne pepper instead.
And there you have it, easy peasy lemon squeezy low fodmap chili oil at home. You can use garlic oil and turn this into chili garlic oil or transform this into a garlic chili oil recipe by adding freshly sliced garlic into the mix. Really, the world is your oyster with oil flavorings.
Now that we’ve covered all the main ingredients, let’s move on to the dish and assembly.
More Than Dry Beef Noodles
Dan dan noodles are typically made with ground pork but we don’t often have ground pork at home and to be honest, we’re not a fan of it. Which is why our version of this iconic spicy, creamy, umami chili garlic noodles uses ground beef instead of ground pork.
To add some extra flavor to this dish, we add Chinese five-spice and ginger paste, as well as dark soy and light soy for extra depth. To get smooth ginger paste, grind your ingredients in a mortar and pestle:
Also, if you are wondering what the difference is between the two, we have a section in our post, “Wondering How To Make Amazing Vegan Low Fodmap Eggplant?” that explains this!
Cooking The Beef
This is the only time you’ll ever want to make your meat dry. Start with a hot wok or pan with a teaspoon of oil. Add your protein of choice and cook off until dry:
After that, add the ginger and garlic paste and keep stirring. Finally, add the sauces and five-spice powder, saute until dry. It should look like this:
Blanch your leafy greens for 6 minutes, we used bok choy.
Low FODMAP Noodles
It wouldn’t be dan dan noodles without noodles! Dan dan noodles are traditionally made using wheat noodles but are most noodles low fodmap? Are egg noodles low fodmap?
According to Monash University, -who are the leading fodmap experts- they have no low fodmap serving size recommended.
Fodmapedia notes that egg noodles are low in FODMAPs when served at 40 grams or half a cup but surpass that threshold at one cup or 80 grams.
If you are concerned about or careful with FODMAP levels in noodles, then vermicelli noodles (a type of thin rice noodles) or gluten-free noodles are typically a safe low fodmap substitute.
Assembly Of Dan Dan Noodles
On a day when we are tired from the daily humdrum of life and just want to sit on the couch with our warm bowl of noodles, we toss everything into a large bowl and serve. But if you want to turn your house into an Asian noodle bar and make it an experience, then here is how the noodles are traditionally served:
- Start by spooning in 3-4 tablespoons of sauce into your bowl
- Lay your noodles on top of that
- Add you blanched leafy greens
- Top with the cooked meat
- Grab your chopsticks or utensil of choice and toss everything together.
Who says you need to go to an Asian noodle bistro to have the experience? This meal is a great dish to serve for large gatherings because you can prepare the sauce and meat in advance.
When you’re ready to serve, heat up the meat in the microwave, boil the noodles -which will only take a few minutes- and tada! Your very own DIY noodle bar. Quick and easy to make plus fun for everyone!
That’s our recipe for dry beef noodles or our take on dan dan mian! This recipe is not for the faint of heart or those with a low spice tolerance but like we said at the beginning of this post, this dish varies from chef to chef.
So, why not make this your own? We modified this recipe by using beef instead of pork. Maybe you’ll find a twist that makes this dish your own. We hope you enjoy making this meal and let us know in the comments if you found the substitutes helpful.
Looking for more exciting Asian recipes?
Beef Dan Dan Noodles
Make this incredibly simple and delicious dry beef noodles (Dan dan noodles) guaranteed to have your tastebuds dancing.
- 250g wheat or egg noodles
- 150g bok choy (any leafy greens)
- For the meat:
- 300g ground beef
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp light soy
- 3 tbsp dark soy
- 1/4 tsp Chinese five-spice
- 20g ginger (pounded)
- (optional) 1/4 cup sui mi ya cai or pickled mustard greens
- 4 tbsp chili oil* (IBS Note: We are able to tolerate this amount. Please make adjustments to the amount of chili oil to your personal suiting)
- 4 tbsp tahini or Chinese sesame paste
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp light soy
- (optional) 1/4 tsp Szechuan peppercorn
Start by heating a wok or pan on medium-high heat with 1 tbsp of oil. Add your ground beef and cook until dry, this should take 5 minutes.
Next, add the pounded ginger and cook for another minute.
Add in the Chinese five-spice, dark and light soy (if you have it, this is the time to add the sui mi ya cai or pickled mustard greens too) and saute for another 4 minutes until dry.
Set the meat aside and heat up a pot with water. Once the water is boiling, add bok choy or leafy green of choice and blanch for 6 minutes.
Use the residual water to boil your noodles as directed on the pack. We used dried wheat noodles and that took about 5 minutes.
While the bok choy and noodles are boiling, prepare the sauce.
In a large bowl, add the sesame paste, chili oil, sugar and light soy. Mix thoroughly until combined. If the sauce is too thick, add some hot water to thin it out.
To serve, you can either mix everything in a bowl or assemble it the traditional way.
Start by spooning on the sauce, lay on the noodles and leafy greens, top with the meat, and toss everything together.*
- *There is a step-by-step guide with pictures on the post!
- 1) You can make this recipe without sui mi ya cai, Chinese sesame paste, and Szechuan peppercorns (we have done so many times) but chili oil is a key ingredient you can't skip out on.
- 2) Chili oil and chili sauce are not the same things! Please do not use sriracha as a substitute for this. We recommend using some oil and cayenne pepper instead.
- 3) Chili oil is considered low fodmap but spicy foods are not recommended for people suffering from IBS. We are able to tolerate this amount of spiciness and do not eat this regularly. Please make adjustments to the amount of chili oil to your personal suiting.
- 4) Low Fodmap noodles: Monash university does not have a recommended serving size for wheat noodles. Egg noodles are low fodmap at 40g or 1/2 cup and have moderate fodmap at 80g or 1 cup. If you are concerned about this, rice noodles or gluten-free noodles are safe low fodmap options.