Some Like It Hot: Dan Dan Noodles

No, I am not talking about the 1959 Some Like It Hot movie, where Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon dress in drag to protect themselves from gangsters, all the while each trying to snag Marilyn Monroe for themselves.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s a classic and highly recommended.

I am actually talking about Dan Dan Noodles, another classic, but of the Szechuan varietal.  The first time I had Dan Dan Noodles was at Han Dynasty, a tasty Chinese BYOB in Philadelphia.  They were so good, yet so spicy, that I was hurriedly shoving them in my mouth so I could try and savor the dish, without my mouth being on fire for too long.  The second time I had them, I knew better, ordered them milder, and they did not disappoint.

I came across a recipe for the dish on Food and Wine magazine’s web site, and decided to make them.  I made some tweaks of my own  by removing the jalapeno’s, using gluten-free spaghetti, and replacing peanut butter with almond butter.  The result?  A fantastic replacement for Sunday night take out.  I guess that is what makes these noodles a classic, you can eat (or watch) it over and over and enjoy it every time.

Dan Dan Noodles
Adapted from Joanne Chang via foodandwine.com

Ingredients

1 small jalapeno, minced (optional)
1 small garlic clove, halved
One 1/4-inch slice of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup peanut or almond butter
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Sriracha chile sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
Kosher salt
1 lb spaghetti, chow mein, or other ribbon pasta
Cucumber matchsticks, sliced scallions, chopped cilantro, sesame seeds and lime halves, for garnish

1. In  a food processor, add the jalapeno, garlic and ginger and process until minced. Add the peanut butter, soy sauce, water, rice vinegar, Sriracha, sugar and sesame oil and process until smooth. Season generously with salt.

2. In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the noodles until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water; pat dry. Toss the noodles with the dressing and mound in serving bowls; top with the garnishes and serve.

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