This riff from Better Homes and Gardens on the popular Chinese Sichuan recipe features a spicy sauce, fresh vegetables, and ground pork. Black vinegar has a hint of fruitiness and gives this street food favorite a touch of umami richness.
As is typical, we did make some changes. The first included using broccoli rabe instead of Chinese broccoli. In doing so, we tossed it in the pot with the carrots and shallots due to a longer cooking time. The amounts of ground pork and lo mien noodles were about 25% more than called for, and an extra carrot was added. For even more depth of flavor, we used our home made chicken stock.
*Shopping Notes: Buy Szechuan peppercorns at Asian markets or spice stores. An Asian market is best for salty, garlicky black bean paste and leafy Chinese broccoli (aka gai lan). Black vinegar is occasionally at large supermarkets. A good sub for it is 1 Tbsp. each rice vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.
Szechuan Dan Dan
- Tsp. canola oil
- 2 tsp. Szechuan peppercorns* or 4 dried Thai chile peppers
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
- 1 medium carrot, cut into thin, bite-size strips
- 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
- 8 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
- 2 Tbsp. black bean paste*
- 6 oz. dried lo mein noodles
- 2 cups trimmed and thinly sliced Chinese broccoli*, broccolini or broccoli rabe
- 1 cup fresh snow pea pods, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise
- 2 Tbsp. black vinegar*
- ½ cup chopped, lightly salted cocktail peanuts
- lime wedges for garnish (optional)
- In a 5- to 6-qt. Dutch oven heat oil and peppercorns over medium 1 to 2 minutes or until peppercorns are fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Let stand 2 minutes. Remove and discard peppercorns, reserving oil.
- Add ground pork, garlic, and five-spice powder to oil in Dutch oven. Cook over medium-high heat until meat is browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove meat.
- Add carrot and shallots to drippings. Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add broth and bean paste to Dutch oven. Bring to boiling. Add noodles; return to boiling. Cook according to noodle package directions until tender, stirring occasionally and adding broccoli the last 2 minutes.
- Stir in cooked meat and pea pods; cook 2 minutes more. Stir in vinegar. Top servings with peanuts.