Chefs' Recipes

Tony Tan's vegetarian dan dan mian

A meat-free take on the Sichuanese favourite.

By Tony Tan
  • 25 mins preparation
  • 20 mins cooking
  • Serves 2
  • Print
"Classic dan dan noodles are made with pork and a preserved mustard green called ya cai mixed with spices and chilli oil. In this vegetarian version, I have used fresh tofu and shiitake mushrooms for texture and flavour," says Tony Tan. "Now that fresh wheat noodles are readily available, the best noodle for this recipe is one with medium thickness. They are sometimes called Shanghai noodles."


  • 100 gm firm tofu, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 30 gm dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 250ml hot water for 10 minutes
  • 500 gm fresh wheat noodles
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Handful chopped spring onions, to serve
Chilli oil
  • 500 ml vegetable oil
  • 15 gm ginger, finely chopped
  • 100 gm chilli flakes
Dan dan sauce
  • 80 ml chilli oil, including sediment (see recipe above)
  • 2 tbsp ya cai (see intro)
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fermented tofu, mashed (see note)
  • 1 tbsp Chinese roasted sesame paste (see note) or peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp Chinkiang vinegar
  • ½ tsp Sichuan pepper, dry-roasted and ground
  • 250 ml (1 cup) vegetable stock


  • 1
    For chilli oil, heat oil with ginger in a saucepan to 120°C-130°C. Place chilli flakes in a heatproof bowl, then pour hot oil over and leave for 24 hours before using (see note).
  • 2
    Marinate tofu with light soy sauce, half the Shaoxing and season to taste with salt and pepper (15 minutes). Drain shiitake, reserving soaking water. Squeeze excess water from shiitake and slice off and discard stalks, then finely chop the caps and set aside.
  • 3
    For dan dan sauce, heat chilli oil in a wok over medium heat. Add ya cai and spring onions, and stir-fry until fragrant (1 minute). Add marinated tofu, shiitake and remaining Shaoxing and stir-fry until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add remaining sauce ingredients and reserved mushroom water; mix well. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • 4
    Meanwhile, cook noodles according to packet instructions. Drain into a colander and rinse with hot water. Toss with oil to prevent sticking and divide noodles among serving bowls. Spoon over dan dan sauce and top with spring onions and extra chilli oil for chilli lovers.


Chilli oil will keep in a jar at room temperature for 1 month. Fermented tofu and Chinese roasted sesame paste are available from Asian grocers.