Missing Japan & Cooking Dandanmen

Today being my last day of freedom before school starts again, I thought I’d make one of those things for lunch that by mid-semester will seem like way too much effort. That something is dandanmen (sometimes tantanmen), which is actually a Chinese noodle dish, but which I used to eat in Japan a lot. Here’s a picture of today’s version:

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My better half and I used to go to a place on the 8th floor of the mall above/next to Yokosuka-chuo station called Benitora for this stuff. Of course, they made over three versions: one with white, red, or black sesame paste, plus deluxe bowls with big chunks of pork and other ramen fixings like that. After eating at Benitora, we’d often go all the way to the basement of the same mall to a bakery called St. Germain’s ( http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g298174-d6056505-Reviews-Saint_Germain_Yokosuka-Yokosuka_Kanagawa_Prefecture_Kanto.html), usually for the mini chocolate cake donuts they sold for about 80 yen a piece.

Anywho, here’s some info on making dandanmen for any non-Asians who may come across here wanting help:

Here’s a link to start with:

Cooking With Dog Dandanmen

The first time I made this, I followed the video, but now I just use their ingredients list (minus all the soy milk — I only use one or tablespoons per serving).

Once all the ingredients are mise en place (I think), I start a big pot of water boiling, and heat a pan to cook the pork in.

I get two large bowls (or one for each person you’re serving), and mix each person’s broth separately. If you use CWD’s ingredients list, simply put everything listed under “Broth” in each bowl… except for the soy milk. And if you don’t have/want to use chicken stock, what I typically do is put a little powdered chicken bouillion in each bowl, then simply draw 5 oz of water for each out of the pot of boiling water I started before.

At the same time, or maybe once I’ve started boiling noodles (follow package directions), I cook the pork. Again, use CWD’s ingredients list. The pork, garlic and ginger cook first, and the sake, soy sauce, etc., is added after a few minutes. To the pork mixture, I also add this stuff:

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It’s optional, but definitely adds depth or umami or something. I don’t know, I’m not an insane foodie. Use the kanji or the anglocized word “Tianjiangsomething,” both shown in the photos, to find this tasty chili paste in a Chinese or Japanese market near you (or maybe the Internet). Oh, and when I add this, I go with about a half teaspoon for a quarter pound of pork (which is enough for two adults).

Noodles and pork should be done! Man, that was relatively quick and easy, despite using a ton of different ingredients, and some of them kind of weird/intimidating to the Western home cook. Anyway, there it is. Ittadakimasu!

Oh, and the noodles — supposed to be ramen, but I use soba because I think they’re healthier. Do what you want. It’s good to use half ramen and half soba, which kind of gives you some benefits of soba, while keeping that special ramen flavor…

I can’t even write about Japan. I miss it so much, and it’s depressing to have been “home” for over a year now. School starts tomorrow too, and I’m bummed because I’m not taking third semester Japanese due to schedule conflicts. I don’t know how I’m supposed to keep up/maybe get A’s in physics, calculus, and chemistry, AND practice Japanese (especially kanji) in my “free time.” I have no free time between commuting, exercising, and studying. How do people do this and work or have children? Am I slow or something? It just seems like too much to have on my plate. Anyway, I’d better just do my best. One way or another, I’m hoping to both finish college AND get my ass back to J-land. Whew. That said, I guess I’ll go load up my phone with Pimsleur and Genki and stuff to listen to/speak with while commuting. Going to Mass in the evening, ready for it!

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