My low sodium spin on Dan Dan noodles are made with fried, minced pork and veggies (in this case, cucumbers) over chewy wheat noodles in a thick, nutty sauce topped with crunchy toasted peanuts, fried shallots, and chili oil. It's an easy, satisfying weeknight meal with just 106 mg of sodium per serving.
Servings: Makes 4 large bowls
Sodium: 106 mg per bowl (this includes the sauce) Time: 45 minutes
1 pound no sodium noodles, cooked according to package*
1 pound ground pork (80% fat works best but any kind will do)
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tsp sherry vinegar (or unseasoned rice vinegar)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
Peanut/tahini sauce ingredients:
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted peanut butter
2 tablespoons unsalted tahini
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
*See Notes, below
3 small cucumbers, sliced thin or julienned, or any other vegetable of your choice
1/4 cup toasted, unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup fried shallots
2 scallions, sliced thin
1/2 cup low sodium chili garlic oil
2 limes, cut into wedges
1) Make the peanut/tahini sauce - in a small saucepan, whisk together 1 cup low sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons unsalted peanut butter, 2 tablespoons unsalted tahini, and 4 cloves minced or pressed garlic. Cook over medium heat until the sugar is melted and peanut butter and tahini have melted so that the sauce is smooth. Remove from heat and if you want, strain the little bits of garlic out. I just leave them in, but the sauce does look nicer when it's been strained. Add 1 tablespoon each of red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar and set aside.
2) In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water and whisk until there are no lumps. Add 1 tablespoon molasses, 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (or unseasoned rice vinegar), 1 tablespoon sesame oil, and 4 cloves of pressed or minced garlic. Set this sauce aside, you'll use it for cooking the pork.
3) Cook the pork in a large skillet or wok. I put the pork in a cold pan with no oil, let the meat heat up with the pan so enough fat will render out of the meat that you don't have to add any oil. I used 80% fat pork but you can use a leaner cut, it will just be a bit drier. Cook the pork on high heat. Stir the pork frequently to break up the meat, but once some fat has rendered and the pork is broken into small pieces, leave it alone and don't stir too much so it can brown. You want the pork to be crispy. When it gets crispy, take the cornstarch/molasses mix and give it a quick stir in case the cornstarch has settled, then add to the pork and cook on high for 30 seconds. This whole step takes less than 10 minutes. If you don't care for crispy pork, just cook until it's almost done and add the sauce and cook for another minute.
4) Assemble your noodle bowl - divide the noodles and pork into four bowls and top each with cucumbers, toasted peanuts, fried shallots, and sliced scallions. I love cilantro with this dish as well. Serve the peanut/tahini sauce, chili garlic oil, and lime wedges on the side or add them to each bowl.
-If you don't already have the low sodium soy sauce substitute ready and don't have the ingredients/time to make it, combine 3/4 cup rice vinegar, 3 tablespoons molasses, 1 tablespoon onion powder, and 4 cloves minced garlic and use this in place of 1 cup of low sodium soy sauce substitute. It won't have the same depth of flavor, but since you're adding peanut butter and tahini and cooking this down a bit, it will work. My soy sauce substitute is not meant to be a 1:1 replacement for regular or even light soy sauce, so if you're using a more typical store-bought soy sauce, water it down so that you have about 1 cup of liquid total and add the remaining ingredients to the sauce.
-Any sodium free noodles will work for this dish but if you can get or make fresh noodles it will taste so much better! And if you want to take the flavor up another notch, pan fry the noodles. Most dry pasta has no sodium, but fresh pasta and noodles can have quite a bit. I just got a Philips noodle maker and it's great. You just throw flour and water into the machine and in 15 minutes you have fresh noodles. It's a pricey machine, but worth it for us since we can't buy fresh noodles and making them by hand is so time consuming. If you do want to try some good hand pulled noodles, Red House Spice has a recipe with great tips for beginners. Just omit the salt and it works just fine. I've followed her recipe and instructions with success but it took so long and we devoured the noodles in about 10 minutes.
-Substitute tofu for the pork for an easy vegetarian meal!