Thursday, 11 August 2011

Dan Dan Mian

Dan Dan Mian, or dan dan noodles, consists of noodles in a spicy soup consisting of minced pork and other tasty ingredients. Some variations would add a dollop of sesame paste, especially when eating in Taiwan or the United States. Since peanut butter bears some sort of resemblance to sesame paste, putting together a Sainsbury's Basics version using Basics Peanut Butter should work.

Or so the theory went anyway. Fortunately for me, there are some versions of the noodle dish in the States that indeed use peanut butter in the soup, so I should be in safe territory. In recent times I have been taking a look at peanut butter, intrigued about how something as cheap as that (Sainsbury's Basics' version costs 79p) can provide so many calories per unit weight (615 calories per 100g, to be precise), and wonder if it can be used for more than breakfast sandwiches and confectionery. If an university student can work out how to incorporate this into his meals, and does not mind a bit of monotony, he would be able to last that little bit longer on the same food budget.

I started off by dicing an onion and slicing up a few mushrooms. This is largely for flavouring, extra bulk and to add extra liquid to the soup I will create later.

Once that was done I heated a pan, and browned the Sainsbury's Basics mince. Because its fat content is pretty high and the pan is non-stick, there was no need to add any oil. As the fat is saturated though you might want to consider draining it off at some point. Add onions and mushrooms and continue to cook.

Add half a Sainsbury's Basics Beef Stock Cube and a healthy tablespoon of Basics Peanut Butter to the mix. Follow this up with as much chilli flakes or oil-based chilli sauce that you can willingly take.

Cook spaghetti according to instructions, but drain two minutes early. Add to the wok along with some hot water to make the peanut soup.

I was pleasantly surprised by the result. To be honest, I thought this was going to be another of those pre-planned failures involving a crazy idea for a recipe. The noodle soup was filling, and for good reason too, thanks to the carbs from the pasta and the peanut butter from the soup. Ingredient cost is also pretty low too, and could possibly go lower if you could bring yourself to use the Sainsbury's Basics Mince from the frozen section, but that's scope for another discussion. Authenticity would probably be off the mark, but it's good to know that some form of dan dan mian can be created using things from the Sainsbury's Basics line.

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