Dan dan noodles are actually a Chinese dish, but they’re a mainstay of the Ivan Ramen menu. I’m kind of obsessed with them. I love how dynamic the flavor is—a constant push and pull between fat and acid, sweet and salty, spicy heat and numbing Sichuan peppercorns. The dish has endless variations. It can be soupy or dry, rich with peanut butter or sesame paste, spicy or mild; made with pork or chicken; and often bursting with the tartness of pickled mustard greens. We’ve done many versions of dan dan at the restaurants over the years, but this is the one I keep coming back to.
I’ve filed this recipe as an Otaku dish, partly because it’s a product of my own personal fixation, but also because it takes a bit more work than most other recipes in the book. Nothing fancy or complicated, but some careful shopping and slow cooking are required. You use a whole chicken to make the broth. (There will be too much broth, but there’s no way to make a smaller batch. Plus, it’s chicken broth—I’m sure you’ll find a way to use it.) You’re going to need to find shiro shoyu (white soy sauce) at an Asian market or online. You also need to find brown rice vinegar, most likely at a boutique grocery store. And you’re going to need to locate fresh noodles that you like, whether that means ramen, Chinese soup noodles, or Italian pasta.
The recipe is divided into three parts: the broth, the tare (seasoning sauce), and the chicken topping. You can make the first two components in advance, then warm up the soup once you’re ready to serve the noodles.
TARE (SEASONING SAUCE)