How Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles are Making the World a Better Place

OK – maybe that’s a bot Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles that aren’t too spicy. Sometimes you need a little spice in your life, and other times not so much. It’s OK I won’t tell anyone.

This recipe is inspired by the Original, Traditional Dan Dan Noodles, but adjusted to suit a vegetarian’s requirements. It just so happens to also be Vegan. And if you choose different noodles it can be gluten-free too.

Tofu that has been ground up and caramelized in a sweet, umami, not-too-hot sauce with some hidden vegetables, and all the other fixings you expect.

Ingredients for Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles
Ingredients for Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles

These Asian-style noodles can be ready faster than take out can be delivered, and a whole lot cheaper and healthier, too. Plus the flavors are amazing and delicious! Just what you are looking for!

For me, it’s a Thursday, and I had a different dinner planned for the family tonight. I’ll make that one tomorrow, and share it will y’all of course. But tonight it’s Chinese food. I’m a planner, and this threw me off a little bit, but when both the wife and kiddo say they want Asian noodles, who am I to argue!

OK – I know these are not Dan Nan Noodles. It’s inspired. I’m not telling anyone that they are original. I’ve had authentic samples on both coasts – SF & NYC Chinatown. In places where you can’t order in English. Where the line is out the door and around the block to get a table.

I’m not that great of a chef to even come close to making authentic Dan Dan. This is just my take that I threw together after a long day of work AND school. This recipe comes together quickly, has some authentic ingredients, and is MY version.

Dan Dan noodles are spicy Chinese noodles with pork in a dark sauce. Sometimes there are veggies. Most often eaten with chili oil and fresh green onions. I’ve taken out the animal products and added healthy tofu, adjusted the sauce to what I had in the pantry, and turned down the heat a few notches.

If you are looking for more heat – add some schezuan peppercorns to the hot oil mixture. That will do the trick every time. Or use my Homemade Chili Oil for something that is just shy of Ghost pepper heat. (I’m not kidding).

I treat the Tofu like minced Pork – first pressing it dry and then crumbling it up into bits and lightly pan-frying it in some avocado oil. It gets a little crispy and crunchy, and when combined with the sauce, sticks to the noodles in every bite.

As for the Noodles, I had some extra packs sitting in the fridge from when I made the Spicy Udon Noodle Sauce.

I like to use instant, pre-cooked noodles that I get from my Asian market. They are kept in the refrigerated section and are super easy to prepare as well as delicious.

But before I talk about how to make the best Dan Dan Noodles, let’s talk about chili oil. This is something you can get at the store, but it is so easy to make at home, and you probably already have the ingredients in your cupboard right now.

Take an oil like sesame, or vegetable, and gently simmer it over low heat. In a heat-safe container – like Pyrex – add some powdered garlic, and if you want some red pepper flakes. I’ve left them off the ingredient list, but you can add them in if you want for a more traditional taste.

Once the oil is lightly simmering, pour it over the dried spices, carefully. The hot oil part is done!

At the same time, prepare the sauce – Hoisin, soy, syrup, peanut butter, and vinegar. If you don’t have hoisin, I’ve also used the vegetarian Oyster sauce. The goal is to make a nice Asian brown sauce that is slightly, but not too, sweet.

Now that the sauces are ready, it’s time to get the noodles ready. These are the ones I like – but you can you any kind you want. Udon are made from wheat – so if you want gluten-free, try rice noodles instead.

Pre-cooked are so easy to prepare that you just have to open the pack, tease the brick of noodles apart, and submerge them for a few (2-3 minutes) in hot water. Then immediately remove and rinse in cold water to remove the starch. That’s it.

Now cook the tofu and onion until brown and slightly crispy, about 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the Arugula to slightly wilt it. Add in the sauce and mix. Then serve into bowls. Top with sliced green onions and finally the hot garlic oil.

Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodle Recipe

Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles

Eric
If you are a Vegetarian or even a Vegan, I've created this amazing meatless Dan Dan Noodle dish for you! It uses Tofu instead of pork, and Maple syrup for a sweetener instead of Honey. You can dial the spice up or down as you like it (I made this version mild).
My Asian inspired sauce uses vegetarian Hoisin, soy, rice vinegar, and a few other easy to find ingredients.
I also like a fatter noodle in my Dan Dan Noodles. Instead of a thin wheat noodle I like to use pre-cooked, instand Udon Noodles as they have the "tooth" that I like. These noodles are chewed instead of slurped.
Dan Dan traditionally uses a crispy fried gorund Pork as the protein, but I've been using Pan fried crumbled tofu and some of my friends can't tell the difference.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 2 servings
Calories 500 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 packages Udon Noodles
  • ½ block Firm or extra-firm Tofu
  • c Vegetable Oil
  • 6 cloves Garlic
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1 tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Peanut Butter
  • 1 c Arugula
  • 3 Green Onion
  • ½ Onion

Instructions
 

Press The Tofu

  • Open the container of Frim or Extra Firm Tofu and drain the water.
  • Place the entire block of Tofu between two tea towels or paper towels and put a heavy cast iron skillet or other weight on it. Basically you make a sandwich where the towels are the bread, and the Tofu is the center.
  • Press for about 20 mintues, or while preparing the other ingredients.

Make Garlic Oil

  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the 1/3 vegetable oil and heat until just shimmering. About 350°
  • While the oil is heating mince the 6 cloves of garlic
  • In a Heat proof container (Pyrex) add the 6 cloves of Garlic. Optional: Ad 1 tbsp chili flakes or other "Hot" spice
  • Carefully Pour the hot oil over the garlic and let cool.

Prepare the Sauce

  • Combine the Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce, Hoisin Sauce, Maple Syrup, Rice Vinegar and Peanut Butter in a medium bowl. Wisk to combine thoroughly.

Prepare the Tofu

  • Heat the same skillet for the garlic oil to medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp or the garlic oil mixture
  • While the oil is heating, finely chop 1 onion
  • Crumble the pressed tofu and chopped onion directly into the pan.
    Stir occasionally to prevent sticking, but infrequently enough to allow browing.
  • When the tofu is brown and slightly crispy (about 10 miinutes), turn off heat and add in the Arugula.

Cook the Noodles

  • Instant Pre-Cooked noodles just need to be submerged for 2-3 minutes in hot water, then rinsed in cold water. Drain completely. Follow package directions for best results.

Assemble the Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles

  • Turn the skillet back on to medium high heat with the tofu mixture in it.
  • Add the noodles and mix.
  • Add the sauce and mix
  • Remove from heat, and place in serving bowls. Garnish with sliced green onion and garlic hot sauce.
Keyword Asian, easy, fast, noodles, Tofu, Vegan, vegetarian

Unfortunately, Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles don’t keep overnight or freeze well. They are best eaten immediately after preparation.

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