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Dan Dan noodles of backcountry dreams

It’s hard to think of a more in-your-face-delicious backpacking meal than this fiery, sweet, sour, and savoury noodle dish. It’s got crisp fried pork and steaming wheat noodles and is topped with toasted peanuts and Sichuan peppercorns. And it’s bathed in a chili crisp–based sauce that’s dark and brooding and puckery-tangy from black rice vinegar.



  • 8 ounces lean ground pork
  • 5 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • One 7-ounce jar Sichuan chile oil or spicy chili crisp
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns


  1. In a small bowl, combine the pork, one teaspoon of soy sauce, and breadcrumbs, and knead the mixture with your fingertips until fully incorporated. Let stand for five minutes. Meanwhile, line a large plate with paper towels.
  2. In a dry medium, nonstick skillet over high heat, add the pork mixture and sear, breaking it up with a spatula or spoon, to thoroughly brown and crisp the meat, eight to 12 minutes.
  3. Transfer the pork to the prepared plate to drain, blotting well to remove excess fat, then dehydrate and pack as directed.
  4. In a small bowl, combine one-third of a cup of the chile oil (liquid only; you may need to top it with vegetable oil if there’s not enough in the jar), three tablespoons of the chile oil solids, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and remaining four and a half teaspoons of soy sauce and stir well.
  5. Transfer the sauce to a leakproof container and refrigerate or freeze. (It will keep for two months, frozen). 
  6. In a dry small skillet over medium heat, toast the peanuts and peppercorns until the nuts begin to sizzle gently and color and the peppercorns are nicely fragrant about two to four minutes. Let cool.
  7. Using a rolling pin or mortar and pestle, smash the nuts and peppercorns into a coarse mixture. Transfer to a small container or resealable bag. Serve and enjoy! 

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