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Tan Tan Noodles: Spicy And Warming Japanese Classic

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If you are a fan of noodles and soups and, along with that, you love to taste some good spicy ground meat, then this Japanese staple dish may be the right one for you.

It has several names including Tan Tan noodles, Tan Tan Ramen, or Tan Tan Ramen Noodles. In this article, I will refer to it as Tan Tan noodles.

I previously stated that this is a Japanese staple dish, but actually, this Japanese “tantanmen” is based on a Chinese dish called Dan Dan Noodles or Dan Dan Mian.

This Japanese dish is becoming more and more popular here, in the United States, and I would venture to say that it overtakes some popular ramen-based dishes like, for example, miso ramen.

These days, you can find this incredible dish in most ramen restaurants, but what do you think about making your own Tan Tan noodles? The recipe is quite simple and most of the ingredients can be found in your local grocery stores.

Well, within this very article, you will find out all the important points related to this delicious Japanese dish and what it takes to make your own, even more delicious, version. Stay tuned to find out.

What Is Tan Tan Noodles Or Tan Tan Ramen?

Tan Tan Noodles

Tan Tan noodles or Tan Tan ramen is a delicious Japanese dish that is based on a Chinese dish with a similar name, i.e. Dan Dan noodles. The history of Tan Tan noodles is quite intriguing, as stated by Culinary Backstreets:

Known as dandanmian or dandan noodles (literally, “pole-carried noodles”) in China, it began as a street snack born in the 1800s in Sichuan province. Traders who would carry bamboo poles balanced across their shoulders with a bucket on each end, one for noodles and one for sauce, peddled the snack to hungry passersby.”

The dish became very popular in China and it eventually found its way to Japan, where it became even more popular.

Nowadays, Tan Tan noodles are popular as street food in China.

Through the rise of Chinese restaurants, it found its way to the American dinner table where it is becoming more and more popular every day.

And, I myself, like to enjoy it from time to time, especially on those cold winter days when I need something to warm me. Besides that, Tan Tan noodles are one of my favorite sides for sandwiches.

Although there is one main Tan Tan noodle dish, there are plenty of varieties and there is surely a variety that can satisfy every palate, even the most sensitive ones.

There is even a solution for those who do not consume meat because it can be easily replaced by tofu or fresh veggies and you will get delicious vegetarian Tan Tan noodles.

As you can see, everyone can find a variation that suits them and satisfies their demanding palate.

What Is Tan Tan Ramen Made Of?

As I already said, there are different variations of this spicy and delicious Asian dish, but the main ingredient that certainly can’t be replaced is noodles.

Those same noodles are usually served in a spicy broth or soup base in which is added sesame paste or peanut butter. That is according to your preference.

Of course, noodles can also be served dry, i.e. without broth, but I wouldn’t recommend you to do that because that won’t be the same dish anymore although it will bear the same name. But, some people like it that way, so what can we do?

Also, the type of noodles is up to you. You can choose between fresh ramen, udon, soba noodles, egg noodles, or rice noodles.

Another important part of this dish, unless you are a vegetarian or vegan, of course, is a mixture of ground meat. Usually, that is ground pork but some chefs use ground chicken as well. These are the nuances between the different types of this delicious dish.

Those are the three main parts of Tan Tan noodles: ramen noodles, broth, and ground pork.

More specifically, some other ingredients that go into this spicy, delicious dish include ginger, garlic, soy sauce, bok choy, soybean, soy milk, black bean sauce, green onions, chili oil, rice wine, chili paste, spinach, and tahini. Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds.

In some spicier variations, you can also add chili flakes or red pepper flakes.

This is just a kind of introduction, but below you will find a simple and delicious recipe in which I will reveal some more information on how to properly incorporate these ingredients in one spicy and delicious dish.

What Is The Difference Between Dan Dan Noodles And Tan Tan Noodles?

I previously mentioned that although some people think that Tan Tan noodles and Dan Dan noodles are the same, they actually are not. They really are quite similar since Tan Tan noodles have been created on the basis of Dan Dan noodles and the name is almost the same as well.

So, it is not hard to replace them with one another. Both of the dishes contain noodles, crispy ground pork, blanched greens, and sesame paste.

But the difference is that Dan Dan noodles contain raw garlic, pickled veggies (“sui mi ya cai”), and Sichuan peppercorns. And those ingredients contribute to the more complex flavor of Dan Dan noodles.

Also, I think that Dan Dan noodles are a bit spicier than their Tan Tan relative, but actually, since you can freely adjust the spice level of both of these dishes according to your liking, I wouldn’t take that into account as the main difference.

One Delicious And Spicy Tan Tan Ramen Recipe

Tan Tan Ramen Recipe

And finally, there is the main part of this article and that is the recipe for 2 servings. The recipe that I will present to you is a simple one, but with one spicy and delicious result. So, get a piece of paper and start taking notes.

Ingredients for the dish:

• 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

• 1 and 1/2 tablespoons grated ginger

• 1/4 tablespoon grated garlic

• 3 sliced green onions

• 1/6 cup black bean sauce (Sichuan doubanjiang)

• 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

• 1 teaspoon hot chili oil (you can also add chili sauce)

• 1/6 cup peanut butter

• 1/8 cup soy sauce

• 1/8 tahini sauce

• 3 and 1/2 cups bone broth or chicken stock

• 1 tablespoon chili paste

• 1/2pound ground pork

• Two 3-ounce packages of fresh ramen noodles (you can use udon noodles)

Ingredients for the garnish:

• 1 cup spinach

• 2 soft-boiled eggs

• 1 and 1/2 sliced green onions

• Daikon radish sprouts

• Chopped cilantro

Instructions to follow:

1. First, boil a large pot of water for the ramen noodles.

2. Then heat oil in a saucepan on medium heat and add ginger and garlic. Cook it for about 3 minutes.

3. Then you can add the chili oil, black bean sauce, sesame oil, and onions.

4. After that, you are free to incorporate the broth, tamari, peanut butter, chili paste, and tahini. You will have to stir that well in order for it to combine, reduce the heat level to low, and simmer for about 15 minutes.

5. In those 15 minutes, you can cook the ground pork in a skillet or wok over a medium heat. You will also have to add about 1/2 cup of broth to the ground pork.

6. Finally, you will cook the noodles following the package directions in boiling water. After you have cooked them, you will drain them and place them in a bowl. You will top them with broth, ground pork, and spinach. And, of course, you can garnish them with radish sprouts, cilantro, onions, and eggs.

Prep time is about 10 minutes.

Cooking time is about 20 minutes.

The total time is about 30 minutes.

Nutritional Value

close shot of Tan Tan Noodles

Because nutrition is so important to people nowadays, and many people are being extra careful when consuming certain food, I tried my best to provide the most important information related to the nutritional value of this dish.

• Calories: 560 kcal

• Carbohydrates: 14 g

• Proteins: 36 g

• Fat: 40 g

• Cholesterol: 162 mg

• Fiber: 3 g

• Sodium: 1520 mg

• Sugar: 4 g

• Potassium: 615 mg

• Vitamin A: 1283 IU

• Vitamin C: 8.7 mg

• Iron: 3.2 mg

• Calcium: 80 mg


Tan Tan Noodles served on plate

What Does Tan Tan Ramen Mean?

The original name of Tan Tan ramen or Tan Tan noodles is “tantanmen” and that literally means “noodles being carried”. The reason for it to be named exactly like this is that the noodles were carried in a shouldering pole.

There were two pots to create the dish. One pot carried sauce and the other pot carried noodles. Both of these are ingredients of Tan Tan noodles. This was the case when Tan Tan noodles hadn’t yet spread outside China, i.e. before they reached their next destination: Japan.

What Does Tan Tan Taste Like?

Tan Tan noodles or Tan Tan ramen has a somewhat nutty taste. Unlike other types of ramen, such as spicy miso-based ramen, this one has a more creamy and nutty broth.

That is probably the case because of the peanut butter that is added to this type of ramen. Also, Tan Tan noodles can be very spicy because it includes chili sauce, chili paste, or chili oil and some other spicy seasonings.

What Does A Bowl Of TanTan Ramen Cost?

Generally speaking, store-bought ramen costs about 50 cents, but it can cost up to $1 per pack. If you find yourself in some noodle shop, then you can expect a price of about $15 to $20 for ramen noodle soup.

Here, Tan Tan ramen is not an exception. The price may vary from place to place and from type to type but, generally speaking, it is around these values.

Experience Tan Tan Noodles

Tan Tan noodles is one incredibly delicious and spicy Japanese-style dish and a gift of Japanese cuisine to our Western cuisine. It is not yet very popular here in the US, but it is becoming more and more popular due to its incredible taste and amazing nutritional value.

Although you can find it in most ramen restaurants nowadays, I did my best to present you with a simple recipe with the ingredients that you can easily find in most grocery stores with great final results.

So, take a look at the recipe, take notes, and give it a try. I believe that it will greatly satisfy you and your taste buds.