Dan Dan Mian with Tofu Crumbles

Every time I look at a recipe for DanDanMian or TanTanMen (the Japanese take on the Sichuanese noodle dish), I feel a little overwhelmed! Many recipes include making your own chili oil, and most of them involve ground meat, which I rarely have on hand. This is a riff on how I like to make a semi(?) simplified version of Dan Dan Noodles, which includes the same rich and flavorful sauce, but using tofu crumbles instead.

I’d give this a 5/10 on the lazy scale (0 = ultra lazy, 10 = about to make hand-pulled noodles). I think a 1/2 tsp or so of crushed sichuan peppercorns would also be lovely in here (but brings it up to a 6/10 on the lazy scale in my book)!

Tobandjan is a fermented chili bean sauce made with broad beans. Dandanmian traditionally used Pixian Doubanjiang, which is an essential ingredient in many Sichuanese dishes but not something I keep on-hand. Instead, I use tobandjan, a Cantonese version of the condiment that’s a bit more mild in flavor profile and also easier to find in a grocery store!

Ingredients (for 4 servings of noodles):

  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, separate whites and light greens from dark greens
  • 1/2 pack of firm tofu, pressed
  • sauce:
    • 2 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1.5 tbsp tobandjan
    • 1.5 tbsp peanut butter
    • 1 tbsp shaoxing cooking wine
    • 1/2 tbsp white miso
    • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
    • 1 tsp mirin
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • to serve (optional but recommended): crushed peanuts, chili oil, and leafy greens, such as bok choy or yuchoy
  • other things that would have been fun to add!: zha cai (preserved mustard stems) or suan cai (pickled mustard greens)

To make:

  • press your tofu with your desired weapon, my friend’s mom wraps it in a tofu and covers it with a rock, I use a heavy salt cellar and towel, baking trays work too!
  • cook noodles of your choice and drain, reserving 1/2 cup of starchy water (once the noodles are done, I like to just blanch my veggies in this water as well)
  • mix together the sauce above and adjust ratios to taste (it should be a bit salty at this point!)
  • heat up oil over medium heat in a pan and sauté garlic, ginger, and scallion whites until fragrant ~1-2 minutes
  • add in crumbled firm tofu (I just crumble with my fingers as they’re going into the pan), and pour in half the sauce, continuing to break up the tofu into smaller pieces within the sauce using your spatula
  • once the tofu is well-coated, toss in the cooked noodles and the other half of the sauce. If they’re looking a little dry, add spoonfuls of reserved starchy water to thin until it reaches your desired consistency, adjust seasoning to taste
  • top with crushed peanuts, chili oil, + scallions, and serve with blanched greens!