Reminiscent of a dish I fell in love with 25 years ago. It was called “dan dan mein,” but when I later tried to order it in another Chinese restaurant, they told me that simply translated to “street food.”


1 C light soy sauce
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C black Chinese vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1/2 C unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2 C Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
1 C cilantro leaves
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 T coriander seeds
1/2 red Thai chile or red jalapeno

Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. After the sugar has dissolved, stir in the rest of the ingredients. Remove from heat and let sit for 45 minutes before straining.

Peanut-Sesame Sauce

1-1/2 T sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 t minced fresh ginger
3/4 C roasted salted peanuts
3/4 C toasted sesame seeds
6 T grapeseed or vegetable oil
1 small red Thai chile or red jalapeno

In a heavy skillet, stir the sugar, garlic, and ginger together. Cook over medium heat without stirring until sugar melts and carmelizes to a dark amber color. Scrape this mixture onto a piece of parchment paper. Allow to cool and harden (about 15 minutes).
Break this mixture up into blender or food processor. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Season to taste with salt and cayenne.

Noodles and Garnishes

4 coils bean thread noodles (saifun) from two 5- or 6-oz packages
4 C bean sprouts
1 large tart apple, seeded and cut into matchstick strips
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into matchstick strips
5 green onions, chopped
1/3 C chopped crystallized ginger
Roasted salted peanuts and toasted sesame seeds

Place the noodles in a large bowl, cover with boiling water. Let stand about 10 minutes, stirring gently occasionally, until noodles are soft. Drain and return to bowl.

To serve, pour 1/4 C broth into each of 6 bowls. Top/garnish with sauce and remaining ingredients.