How to make Dan Dan Pasta, pasta tossed in a spicy, sesame meat-based sauce.
Chinese Dan Dan Noodles or Dandan Mian, but with pasta! Dan dan noodles are noodles tossed in a meaty, spicy, Sichuan-peppercorn spiked sauce. My recipe utilises a couple of cheat ingredients to shortcut this into an easy dish that you can serve in 30 minutes or less.
What does Dan Dan Pasta Sauce Taste Like?
Savoury, sweet, tangy and spicy – Dan Dan sauce is a complex sauce with the perfect balance of flavours. The base is a deliciously nutty and creamy sesame sauce, with the robust flavours of meat. If you’ve never tried it, you’re in for a treat!
How to make Dan Dan Pasta?
- Boil the pasta noodles first.
- While pasta is cooking, make the sauce.
- Cook the ground meat, and remove from the pan.
- Make the sesame sauce, deglazing any meat char from the pan.
- Toss in cooked pasta, pasta water, meat to combine. Done!
What do you need to make the sauce for Dan Dan Pasta?
Real deal Dan Dan noodles need a lot ingredients and separate cooking steps. I cheat my way to Dan dan noodles, and loved the results!
- Sesame Sauce: Chinese sesame sauce is a pure creamy paste of ground sesame seeds. Instead of plain sesame sauce I used Roasted Sesame Sauce Dressing! I use the Kewpie brand, but any will work. It’s slightly sweet, and not as strong-tasting as regular sesame sauce. You can also use tahini.
- Chilli Oil: I use my homemade chilli oil, not just for the spice but for the hit of numbing sensation from the Sichuan Peppercorns.
- Light Soy Sauce: This is the main salting agent to the dish.
- Rice Vinegar: This adds that tang to the sauce. Easily replaceable with apple cider vinegar or regular white vinegar.
- Sugar: I do not add as much here since my sesame sauce is slight sweet. Adjust according to your taste preference.
- Sesame Oil: This boosts the sesame flavours even more.
- Sesame Seeds: This complements the sesame flavours while adding a nice texture to the sauce.
What I Omitted, but you can add:
- Sichuan Peppercorns: I did not use this since my chilli oil has Sichuan Peppercorns in it! If you want to add this is, make sure to prep the peppercorns. Dry toast the Sichuan Peppercorns until fragrant, then grind to a powder, before adding to the sesame sauce.
- Preserved Vegetables: Chinese preserved vegetables are usually added with the meat, but I didn’t add it in for the sake of simplicity. If you have preserved vegetables, add it in for a burst of salty, umami flavours!
What Noodles to Use for Dan Dan Pasta?
I love using wider noodles that can grab at the sauce. For this, I love using Fettucine and Pappardelle pastas for this. Short form pastas can also work well with this, since it can hold all of the ground meat. I like using Farfalle, Penne and Conchiglie for this.
Can I use other noodles for this? Yes, of course! You can replace this with wheat noodles or you mian noodles like actual dan dan noodles! Instead of using pasta water to loosen the sauce for easier tossing, use the water used to boil the noodles – same thing!
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Dan Dan PastaCourse: Recipes
2 servings Pasta of choice (Fettucine)
1-2 tbsps of Pasta Water* (with extra on the side)
Garnish with Cilantro and Spring Onions
- Ground Meat
150g Ground Beef (or minced meat of choice)
1 tsp Light Soy Sauce
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp White Pepper
- Dan Dan Sesame Sauce
2 tbsps Sesame Paste
2 tsps Vinegar
2 tbsps Chili Oil
1 tsp Light Soy Sauce
1 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Sesame Seeds
- Cook pasta according to pasta instructions. Keep about a cup of the pasta water.
add oil to pan and cook ground beef until brown.
add light soy sauce, garlic and white pepper. stir to combine. remove from pan and turn off the heat.
- While pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Add oil to the pan, and once hot, add the ground beef until it brown.
- Season beef with light soy sauce, garlic and white pepper, and let it fully cook. Remove from the pan.
- In the same pan, combine sesame sauce, light soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, chilli oil and a couple tablespoons of pasta water. Stir until you get a nice sauce going.
- Once the sauce starts bubbling, add the cooked pasta. Keep tossing the pasta until the sauce coats and clings onto the pasta. If the sauce is not saucy enough, simply add more pasta water bit by bit.
- Add back the cooked ground beef and garnish with cilantro and spring onions. Plate and serve!
- *Pasta Water is simply the starchy water that the pasta is boiled in.