This vegan version of a Sichuan takeout legend keeps all the spice and savoury goodness of dan dan noodles while using a plant based meat substitute. Easy to make at home with easy-to-find ingredients make this a perfect copycat recipe!
Looking for the traditional version of this dish? We’ve got you! Check out Easy Dan Dan Noodles, made with ground pork.
I came across dan dan noodles (or dandan noodles) not too long ago. It’s too bad – I wish I had been eating them my whole life! Dan dan noodles explode with flavour, especially when perfectly balanced with exactly the right amount of spiciness.
Although traditionally made with ground pork, it is incredibly easy to make this dish vegan without losing any of the delicious flavour.
What are Dan Dan Noodles?
Dan dan noodles come from the Sichuan province of China, where the locals have been enjoying them as street food for generations. The name comes from a kind of pole, called a ‘dan’, that street vendors used to carry two baskets, one with ingredients and one with cooking utensils.
Dan dan noodles quickly became a staple, and as with so many tasty dishes, spread beyond the area where they were first created.
As so often happens, the recipe has taken on a few different variations. You can make the dish either spicy or more mild. The final dish can also be either fairly dry or more like a soup.
Personally, I prefer to eat dan dan noodles when they have a bit of spice and are not very soupy. The recipe is easy to adjust based on your taste.
Traditionally, dan dan noodles are made with minced pork. To make a vegan version of this recipe, I’ve added plant-based meat substitute, which is truly fantastic in this recipe!
Although historically a meaty dish, I made this recipe vegan from the start. Even if you are not a vegan yourself, it’s a great one for guests since it uses plant based meats and has strong sauce flavours so you can’t tell the difference.
How to make it
Making dan dan noodles is surprisingly easy for a dish with so much flavour. Start by preparing the ingredients. Finely slice the green onions, keeping the white and green bits separate as they are not used at the same time.
Roughly chop the bok choy and the same to the peanuts. Lastly, crush up the peppercorns using a pestle and mortar. The recipe is fairly quick, so having these ingredients ready will make cooking far easier.
The noodles used in this recipe are udon noodles, which cook quickly in boiling water. When they are done, give them a good rinse in cold water to keep them from sticking together.
While the noodles are cooking away, heat up a wok over high heat. If you don’t have a wok, a high topped frying pan will do just fine. Pour in the sesame oil and let it get nice a hot before adding the meat substitute of your choice.
Fry the oil and meat substitute together until the it is hot all the way through and has a nice brown colour. This should take about five minutes.
Add the ginger, garlic, peppercorns and Chinese five spice and fry for another minute.
Now pour the stock, chilli oil, vinegar and soy sauce into the wok. Let it cook together for three or four minutes, stirring frequently. The liquid will reduce slightly. Add the bok choy and cook for two or three minutes.
Finally, return the noodles and combine with the other ingredients. The noodles are already cooked so you only need to let them heat back up. When they are at a temperature you are happy with, it’s time to serve.
Divide the dan dan noodles into bowls and garnish with chopped peanuts and the green parts of the green onions.
Recipe tips and notes
- Although the list of ingredients isn’t short, this is actually a dish that comes together quite quickly. I find it easier to manage if all the ingredients are ready for before I start cooking.
- If you would like a thicker sauce, add a small amount of corn starch mixed with water towards the end and stir in well.
- The traditional recipe calls for Sichuan peppercorns, but feel free to substitute with regular black or pink peppercorns as I did.
- Spinach, kale or cabbage could be used in place of bok choy.
- I used plant based meat substitute but you can use firm tofu.
- Serving topped with chopped roasted peanuts is not essential, but it just wouldn’t be the same without them. They add a whole different dimension to the flavour as well as a lovely crunch!
Dan dan noodles are very much a one-pan dinner, so you are missing absolutely nothing by dining on a bowl of this tasty dish. I like to serve mine with a sprinkling of chopped roasted peanuts and sliced green peppers, but that’s optional.
If a starter is something you can’t do without, I would suggest sticking with something vegan. Crispy tofu bites will be just perfect!
Storage and leftovers
Any leftovers will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days if kept in an airtight container. The best way to reheat is by returning them to a pan over medium heat.
Heat up a little oil and add the noodles. Let it get hot all the way through and you are ready for another tasty meal!
More Asian noodle recipes
Vegan Dan Dan Noodles
- 500g/1lb dried udon noodles
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 500g/1lb plant based meat substitute
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger peeled and grated
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 4 green onions finely sliced
- 2 tsp peppercorns crushed (I used pink peppercorns)
- 1½ tsp Chinese five spice powder
- 375ml/1½ cups vegetable stock
- 1-2 tsp rice wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 3 baby bok choy roughly chopped
- 60g/4 tbsp roasted peanuts
- Cook the udon noodles according to the package instructions. Drain the noodles and run cold water over then to cool completely and set aside. The cold water prevents the noodles from sticking together.
- At the same time, place a large wok or high sided pan over high heat and add the sesame oil. Once the oil is heated, add the meat substitute until it is hot throughout, which should take about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, white parts of the green onions, Sichuan peppercorns and Chinese five spice powder. Stir in well and fry for 1 minute.
- Pour in the stock, chilli oil, vinegar and soy sauce. Cook for 3-4 minutes while stirring frequently, allowing the liquid to slightly reduce. Add the bok choy and cook for 2-3 minutes. Return the noodles to the wok, combining well, and allow to cook until the noodles have heated through.
- Serve in bowls with a garnish of peanuts and the green end of the green onions.