Monthly Archives: February 2013

Dan dan noodles

I am overwhelmed by the number of posts on Facebook that announce either 1. women celebrating the fact that their boyfriends or husbands cooked for them when they are sick, or 2. men proudly presenting the fact that they made dinner for their sick girlfriend/wife. The first is fine, except for the fact that I rarely (or in fact never) see posts by their boyfriends/husbands celebrating the fact that somebody made dinner for them when they are sick. Seems that scenario is taken for granted. For the second one, I want to tell the men that what they have done is decent and caring and all, but the fact that the person is boasting about the fact reminds that the man making dinner must be a pretty rare occasion in that household.

Preparing meals for a sick person gets you praises and “likes” and an occasion for self-congratulatory pat on the backs. My god I am happy to be a man.

What these people do not know is that living alone and drinking frequently, I cook meals for myself while I am hung over. This takes much more dedication, focus, persistence, and love (for yourself) than being healthy and cooking for a sick person.

Anyway, dan dan noodles have been my standard hangover fare for a while. I started off with Japanese recipes for authentic dan dan mien, which requires ten men jian (sweet dark miso) to be sauteed with the ground pork, and sesame paste in the vinaigrette.


However, the taste itself seems a bit too complicated, and detracts you from the wonderful flavors of chili and sichuan peppercorns.

The recipe by Kenji from seriouseats was much better. The pork is sauteed with only za cai (chinese pickles) which makes the basic flavors of the dish stand out.



I sometimes just whiz up a large batch of the chili oil vinaigrette and keep it in a plastic bottle. Its simply a great tasting sauce for any dish. I once made a vegan dan dan mien with only sauteed green onions and za cai on top of the noodles, and it still tasted great.

Japanese dan dan mien was originally created by a Chinese chef in Japan, since some of the ingredients were not available locally. The broth can be made by just mixing chicken broth, sesame paste, sugar, soy sauce, grated garlic, a bit of Chinese black vinegar, and warming it up.

japanese style dan-dan noodles


After that, you sautee soy sauce, ten men jian, cooking wine, and a pinch of sugar with ground pork. Dump the noodles in the soup, sprinkle on the pork, and you’re done.

Its one of the few noodle soups that taste great despite the use of pre-made chicken broth. The sesame paste adds a richness and complexity that would not be there otherwise.

I use san-dong noodles, which are white, flat noodles sold in Asian grocery stores.



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Filed under faux chinese, Food, Japanese noodles


Recently I have realized the cathartic quality of bailing. Making elaborate plans, contacting people, and just canceling everything to sit in a dark room, drink cheap beer and listen to records gives you a rush that is quite addictive. My ideal situation would be to put together a large going away party for myself, and bailing at the last minute. What a wonderful feeling that might be.

Another thing I recently realized, besides the beauty of bailing and the fact that doom and death metal are lovely music to read to (the continuous drone gives you something to listen to without any distractions), is that wontons make a great meal for a person living alone. Since the skin is the appeal of wantons, you don’t need as much pork as you would with a shumai or potstickers. Also, folding a square into triangles are much easier to accomplish in comparison to crescent moons and other stuff. The one obstacle is acquiring the skin, which comes in somewhat large quantities, which is a problem for someone who cooks only for themselves.

So I started making my own skin. Its deceptively easy. A pretty satisfying meal can be made with just 70g of all purpose flour, and 50ml of boiling water, and a dash of salt. Just mix the all purpose flour and salt with water, knead til they come together, and leave it alone for about 30 minutes. Roll it out into a thin sheet using corn starch to prevent sticking, and cut into squares.

With wanton you can just wet the square, put a large teaspoon of filling in, and fold them in half into triangles.


If you are feeling extremely ambitious, you can wet the two corners of the triangle and put them together, like this:


These will create wantons that are much easier to grab with chopsticks.

Only thing you have to do after that is throwing them into a large pot of water, wait for them to float up, give them a minute or so, and scoop them out.


For one meal I put them in a soup that I made using chicken stock, soy sauce, sake, and a bit of sesame oil.

in soup

Another dish you can make is 紅油抄手 with Szechwan peppercorns, garlic, sugar, chili oil, soy sauce, and a bit of sugar.


Or just dump some soy sauce, vinegar, and chili oil on them.

For the fillings, there are thousands of ways to make them, and I’m still looking for my definitive one.

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Pain and Smokin’ Guns BBQ

In making some new york style pizza sauce, I broke one of the most rudimentary culinary rules and grabbed my junk immediately after crushing whole red peppers in my hand.

I feel the heat.

Last week I visited Smokin’ Guns BBQ as a part of my quest to eat as much BBQ in KC as possible. The place seems to get pretty mixed reviews. I got the brisket with fries (I ordered sweet potato, but it came with regular fries, and I was too lazy to argue) and BBQ beans. Briskets were good and smoky, but were rather dry and flaky. Slices were thin, so while it was good as a vehicle for sauce that you can push large amounts in your mouth, it was not up to par with the great BBQ places in KC.


However, the side dishes were all really consistent. Fries were uniformly cooked and crisp, BBQ beans were well balanced in their flavor, and I imagine it would be easy to go through a whole bowl of it. A friend of mine who is on a quest to find the coleslaw of his dreams (he somehow developed an idea of what a coleslaw should taste like, which no coleslaw ever have lived up to) said that while it did not taste “like a coleslaw should,” he kept remembering about it through the week. Great thing was single meat with two sides were 7.25, which is quite cheap for KC BBQ.

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