I usually cope very well with jet lag, perhaps I am getting older (!!) therefore it has not been so easy for me this time round. Wake up way too early in the mornings (still dark outside) wondering if I should force myself to get up or try to fall back asleep. Then in the afternoon, yawning starts sometime between 3pm to 4pm, and last for a good hour. My jaw will hurt from yawning too much, and my eyes water. Felt like I had too much to drink the night before. It is kind of tough to go about with the usual daily chores, but I try to cook and write in between yawning and doing laundry, that is the reason why this post took me a while to write…but I am glad that my first post, after a nearly 3 weeks break, is finally online!
After nearing 3 weeks of indulgence with incredibly delicious food, it was quite tough for me to decide on a recipe to cook and write about. Or rather I should say, too many inspirations bouncing inside my head, didn’t really know where to start. But there was always one dish that lingered in my mind for a while was Dan Dan Noodles, which we had in a cosy little restaurant in central Taipei. Al dente noodles dressed in a slightly spicy, fragrant sesame dressing. The spiciness was just right which married happily with this nutty sesame flavor. It was nothing fancy about this dish, but it somehow captured my full attention, I was in love!
The traditional Dan Dan noodles consist of minced pork, preserved vegetable and chili oil, it is often a soup based dish originally from Sichuan in China. The Taiwanese version is milder and noodles is dressed in sesame sauce. I favor the Taiwanese version as I can taste every ingredient without my taste buds being numbed by the hot chili.
I decided to make a vegetarian version of this Dan Dan noodle I fell in love with in Taiwan, I use black rice noodle instead of wheat noodle as I want to make it gluten free, but feel free to use wheat noodle if you prefer. Mushroom and asparagus add great textures and nutritions. After eating this noodle dish, I felt so much better, seemed like it was an effective remedy for my jet lag!
For the noodles
- 180g black rice noodles (or wheat noodle, medium thick)
- 100g chestnut mushroom (or other mushroom of your choice), diced
- 6 sticks of asparagus, diced
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- peanut oil
- 1 tbsp. tamari (or soy sauce)
- drizzle of sesame oil
- sesame seeds
For the chili oil (makes plenty, left over can be stored in the fridge)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp. Sichuan pepper
- 1 tsp. whole dry chili or chili flakes
For the dressing
- 2 tbsp. sesame paste (or tahini)
- 1 heaped tsp. peanut butter (I used crunchy one)
- 1 tbsp Tamari (or soy sauce)
- 3 tsp. lemon juice
- 1tsp. toasted sesame oil
- pinch of sugar
- 3 tbsp. water (more for thinning)
To prepare the chili oil, heat the oil in a sauce pan until hot (be careful not to burn yourself) add the Sichuan pepper and dried chili, immediate remove from heat, transfer the oil mixture in a glass jar and let it steep for at least 15 minutes to infuse. Set aside.
Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl, loosen it with more water or tamari as desire. Set aside.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the noodles according to package instruction. Once cooked, drain in a colander drizzle sesame oil to prevent them from sticking, dress the noodles immediately with the dressing, add about 2 tablespoons of the chili oil (add more if you fancy a more spicy taste), keep warm and set aside.
While the noodles is cooking, prepare the vegetable: in a non-sticked skillet, fried the garlic with a splash of peanut oil for a minute until fragrant, add mushroom, asparagus and fry until vegetable starts to soften, season with the tamari, removed from heat.
To assemble the dish: divide the dressed noodles, cooked vegetables in 2 warm bowls, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and enjoy!
PS. I decided to add in a special ‘Travel’ column where I can share my travel experiences with you, in the next weeks, I will write up posts about the places I visited and the food that I enjoyed immensely during the time in Asia, so please stay tune!
PPS. a step by step photo recipe is available in Kitchenbowl, click here to view.