One-pan meals don’t have to rely on a pound of ground beef and a boxed mix. This dan dan noodle recipe proves it. This traditional Sichuan dish comes together even more quickly using ground pork—seasoned with ingredients you likely have in your cupboard—and veggies served over fresh Asian noodles that cook in just a few minutes. If you don’t have fresh noodles, go for spaghetti. You’re the boss.
3/4 lb thin fresh Asian noodles
canola oil, for cooking
3/4 lb (375 g) ground pork
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp (15 ml) grated fresh ginger
3/4–1 cup (185–250 ml) chicken stock
2 tbsp (30 ml) rice vinegar
2 tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce
1 tbsp (15 ml) tahini, almond butter or peanut butter
2 tsp (10 ml) brown sugar or honey
2 tsp (10 ml) chili-garlic sauce or chili sauce, or to taste
1 cup (250 ml) packed baby spinach or 6 to 8 baby bok choy, halved lengthways
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped peanuts or almonds
2 green onions, chopped
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the noodles. Cook for 3–4 minutes, or as the package directs, and drain well in a colander.
When you set the water to boil, set a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of oil. Add the pork and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.
Add 3/4 cup of the chicken stock and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the stock reduces by about half. Add the vinegar, soy sauce, tahini, brown sugar and chili-garlic sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook until the mixture thickens, then add the spinach or bok choy to the pan and stir until it wilts. If the sauce is too thick, add the remaining 1/4 cup of stock. Let simmer.
To the pan of cooked down sauce, add the drained noodles and toss to combine, or spread the noodles out on a platter and top with the pork mixture. Serve immediately, topped with chopped peanuts and green onions.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, Feb/Mar 2015.