DIY Dan Dan Noodles at Mala Sichuan Bistro

Last week, Mala Sichuan Bistro launched an easy meal kit for to-go customers and invited us to give it a try. This is a great way for fans to make its beloved Dan Dan Noodles fresh at home. The kit for this classic Sichuan street food is complete with all portioned ingredients, including the quintessential chile-laced sauce, along with easy instructions that don’t require any skills beyond boiling water and stirring. According to legend, Dan Dan Noodles were created by a street food hawker named Chen Baobao in Sichuan in 1841. He brought a favorite noodle dish from his hometown to sell in Zigong by carrying everything he needed to make them on a pole held over his shoulder. This type of carrying pole is called a dan dan, which is how the local people referenced the street vendors. Thus, the name of the dish was born. Dan Dan Noodles were introduced to other Chinese cities, and the famed dish would evolve over time with cooks in Chengdu adding minced meat, thus creating the umami element. Mala Sichuan’s DIY Kit features the common “dry” version, which means the noodles are enhanced with addictive chile sauce rather than cooked in a broth. The resulting spicy flavor is what the Chengdu rendition is known for. Other adaptations would follow as the dish reached other cities and local condiments and regional ingredients were added, but the chili oil would remain its defining ingredient.

Mixing the cooked cabbage and noodles with the provided sauce. Photo by Sandra Crittenden

The easy instructions for the Mala Sichuan Bistro DIY kit are to simply boil six cups of water, add the noodles for two minutes, add the cabbage for an additional minute, mix the sauce and three tablespoons of the boiling water and stir in the original container. When the three minute cook time is complete, return the noodles and cabbage back to the bowl, top with the pre-cooked minced pork and vegetables, stirr together and serve. The price is $7.49 a serving, and the refrigerated kits stay fresh for one week. Call or go online to order from any of their three locations for pick up or delivery. If curbside pickup is desired, make a note in the special instruction box on the online order or alert them when calling.

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