All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015
To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.
OK – I had never heard of Dan Dan noodles but they are, it seems, a Chinese staple & even on the menu at P.F. Chang’s. I began researching recipes & they seem to vary a lot – going from a pho-like soup to a drier noodle dish. Spices varied a lot but they all seemed to have a preserved vegetable thing in them. I went on Amazon looking for “ya cai” (preserved mustard greens) or “tianjin” (preserved cabbage). I thought I bought some of one or the other but this is what showed up.
So – fuck it. That is what I used. I used light & dark soy sauces but regular would likely be fine.
You really should use Szechuan pepper (anise) and dried red chilies for the heat & flavor factors.
And I used this chili oil – which is not the right kind. I will be making my own chili oil today so I can try a new version of Dan Dan tomorrow!
I used these fresh egg noodles – but any noodle would work. If you are vegan, obviously, egg noodles are NG. Use fettuccine or ramen or chow mein noodles – or whatever you prefer.
The revelation here is the jackfruit – above. I had seen it used online in recipes for pulled chicken & pork but I had no idea where to find it. Then, at my favorite Thai market, Bangluck, I spied an entire shelf of the stuff. That can cost about $1.40.
Wikipedia says, “The jackfruit, also known as jack tree, jakfruit, or sometimes simply jack or jak) is a species of tree in the Artocarpus genus of the mulberry family. It is native to parts of South and Southeast Asia, and is believed to have originated in the southwestern rain forests of India, in present-day Goa, Kerala, coastal Karnataka, and Maharashtra. The jackfruit tree is well suited to tropical lowlands, and its fruit is the largest tree-borne fruit, reaching as much as 35 kg (80 lb) in weight, 90 cm (35 in) in length, and 50 cm (20 in) in diameter.
The jackfruit tree is a widely cultivated and popular food item in tropical regions of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Jackfruit is also found across Africa (e.g., in Cameroon, Uganda, Tanzania, Madagascar, São Tomé and Príncipe, Ethiopia, and Mauritius), as well as throughout Brazil, west-central Mexico, and in Caribbean nations such as Jamaica. Jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh.
Because unripe jackfruit has a meat-like taste, it is used in curry dishes with spices, in Bihar, Jharkhand, Sri Lankan, Andhran, eastern Indian (Bengali) and (Odisha) and Keralan cuisines. The skin of unripe jackfruit must be peeled first, then the remaining whole jackfruit can be chopped into edible portions and cooked before serving. Young jackfruit has a mild flavor and distinctive meat-like texture and is compared to poultry. Meatless sandwiches have been suggested and are popular with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian populations.”
(these two images below of the jackfruit tree & the split fruit were stolen from Google)
So – excited – I bought a can. I was planning on making a Dan Dan recipe with Beyond Meat beefy crumbles but I HAD to try this jackfruit immediately – so – I made Jackfruit Dan Dan. I opened the can & it looks like that above. But, it is thready & breaks down the way chicken & other meats do. Look at these images of cooked jackfruit. Convincing – no?
(above from the Chow Vegan)
(above from Food 52)
Jackfruit is the greatest Goddamn thing ever! Look HERE to see the health benefits – including glowing skin & hair growth – low in calories & zero fat! Genius!
*Here is a little tip I read today about fresh noodles: if you are using fresh noodles (even fresh spaghetti or whatever) – steam it for 5 minutes & then boil it. The steaming gives the noodles a chewier texture – more like ramen. I tried it. It worked.
Vegan Jackfruit Spicy Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles
1/2 lb noodles of choice (if using fresh noodles – see the *tip above)
for the “meat”
1 (10 oz) can of jackfruit (in water or brine – NOT syrup)
2 tsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves – chopped
1 TBS fresh ginger – minced
3 dry red chilies – cut the top off & shake the seeds out & discard the seeds
1/2 tsp whole Szechuan pepper corns
2 TBS preserved vegetable (ya cai or tianjin, ideally, or the preserved radish I used and I used all 3.5 ounces in the packet)
2 TBS light soy sauce (or low sodium or regular or tamari)
for the sauce
1 tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns (I crushed mine with a mortar & pestle)
4 tsp tahini sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 TBS dark soy sauce (or low sodium or regular or tamari)
1 TBS light soy sauce (or low sodium or regular or tamari)
1 TBS chili oil
2 garlic cloves – mined
1/2 cup water (reserved pasta water is best)
for the garnish
chopped scallions, crushed peanuts, Thai basil or cilantro
For the sauce – mix the sauce ingredients – except the water. Add the water from the pasta pan after you cook the pasta. Or – just use hot tap water & make it all at once & set aside.
For the meat – heat the oil in a pan & add the Szechuan & red chili peppers for one minute. Then add everything else & heat it through. Smash the jackfruit up until it looks like pulled chicken or pork. Set on the lowest heat & set aside.
If using fresh noodles – steam them for 5 minutes then put them in boiling water – adding the bok choy – and cook for about a minute or until it is done. If you were waiting to add pasta water to the sauce – do that now & drain the rest.
If using dry noodles – cook according to instructions – adding the bok choy when the pasta is about one minute from being ready. If you were waiting to add pasta water to the sauce – do that now & drain the rest.
Ladle some sauce into two bowls, add noodles & top with the jackfruit.
Garnish & eat it all up.
And look back here soon – because I will make another version of this presently.