It’s Huajiao Week around here, mostly because I bought a big sack the last time I was in Penzeys. If you haven’t tried huajiao, then you’re in a similar position to someone who has never tasted chili: there’s a whole color missing from your life. Huajiao doesn’t do the chili thing to your tongue; it does a whole other thing. Tingly.
I threw a handful of un-crushed huajiao into this dish the first time around. Eating it was an unpleasant experience in the same way that crunching up whole peppercorns is unpleasant. Wrong texture. Flavor too concentrated. Pound up the huajiao with the flat of a bottle or something first.
Dandan are the buckets in the picture, out of which Chengdu street-vendors evidently once sold these noodles. I haven’t ever been served street food out of a rig like that, although Wikipedia says taho vendors carry their taho this way. (I am now imagining Minnesota children running into the street when they hear the taho truck. Tahoooooô!)
Dandan Mian (enough for four moderate-sized servings?)
1/2 pound noodles
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 sloppy tablespoon chili-garlic
2 good glugs soy sauce
1 glug sesame oil
small handful crushed huajiao
crushed peanuts and/or sesame seeds and/or browned ground pork and/or green onions for garnish
Cook the noodles and stir them up with all the sauce ingredients. Dump or glug more of whatever to get the flavor balance the way you want it. If you make it too bland it will fail to concentrate the mind, and then what’s the point? Serve into bowls. Garnish with whatever. Eat some refrigerator pickles on the side to cut the mala if you need to.