Spicy brothless tantan noodles add heat to cool days

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A bowl of brothless spicy tantan noodles

Cooking expert Wu Wen shares her recipe for spicy brothless tantan noodles, a perfect refreshing dish to eat when you want to give your taste buds a little kick.

When people think of tantan noodles, they imagine noodles served in broth, but Wu says they aren’t served that way in China. Originally a dish offered on street food menus, the noodles are said to have originated in Sichuan.

In her recipe, Wu dresses Chinese noodles and thinly sliced pork in a special sauce made with plenty of chili peppers and serves it with myoga Japanese ginger.

“It’s a nutritionally balanced dish. I especially recommend it when you have no appetite,” Wu said.

Red pepper is the key ingredient that brings out the best flavor of these noodles. Wu chose South Korean coarsely ground red pepper used for making kimchi, characterized by its bright red color and mild taste.

“Please note that it is completely different from ichimi togarashi pepper, which is too hot to be used for this dish,” she said.

Wu says that a sprinkle of water is needed for the South Korean red pepper in the same way that dried vegetables need to be rehydrated to bring out their aroma and umami. “The pepper will not burn easily thanks to the added moisture. It will smell and taste better when cooked for a little while,” she said.

Cook the pepper until the liquid evaporates, then add soy sauce, ground sesame seeds, black vinegar and Sichuan pepper powder to make the sauce. Wu says the sauce recipe is good for three servings, but any excess can be enjoyed with steamed chicken or tofu.

The thinly sliced pork does not have to be cut into pieces and should be cooked in the same pot that the noodles were boiled in. “Isn’t it nice that you can do different things in one pot?” Wu said.

Mix the sauce, noodles and pork well. After topping the dish with myoga Japanese ginger it is ready to be served.

The noodle’s spicy flavor makes the dish appetizing. The pork is filling and has some sweetness, perhaps thanks to the South Korean red pepper. The taste of myoga Japanese ginger is also refreshing. As the dish has no broth, the noodles are easy to eat.

Brothless spicy tantan noodles

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 2 portions of Chinese noodles
  • 100 grams thinly sliced pork (shabu-shabu style)
  • 2 myoga Japanese ginger buds
  • 2 tbsp South Korean coarsely ground red pepper
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp black vinegar
  • ½ tbsp ground white sesame
  • ⅓ tsp hua jiao Sichuan pepper powder
  • Directions:

    The Yomiuri Shimbun
    One tablespoon of water is added to coarsely ground red pepper.
    The Yomiuri Shimbun
    Soy sauce is added to the pepper mixture in a pan over low heat.

1. Add 1 tablespoon of water to the coarsely ground red pepper and mix well. Add sesame oil and mix again.

2. Put the pepper mixture in a pan over low heat and cook it to allow the water to evaporate. Heat it until fragrant, then add four tablespoons of soy sauce. Bring to a boil and turn off the heat. Add the black vinegar, ground sesame and hua jiao Sichuan pepper powder.

3. Cook the noodles according to package directions, soak in water and drain. Boil the pork and drain. Shred the myoga Japanese ginger.

4. Mix three tablespoons of the sauce with the noodles in a bowl, and then add the pork. Adjust the amount of sauce to preference.

5. Serve the noodles on a dish and top with myoga Japanese ginger.

Palate cleanser

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tataki crushed cucumber goes well with spicy tantan noodles.

Wu shared a recipe for tataki crushed cucumber that goes well with the noodles.

Peel two cucumbers, crush with a rolling pin and cut into bite-size pieces.

Mix the cucumbers with ½ tablespoon of ume paste and let sit for 20 minutes. Drain and mix 1 teaspoon of honey and ½ tablespoon of sesame oil. Shred five shiso leaves and sprinkle on.

“You don’t have to rub salt on the cucumber first as it is dressed with ume paste. This dish kills two birds with one stone,” Wu said.

It certainly has a fresh flavor and helps reset one’s taste buds.