I like my Dan Dan noodles with plenty of roasted chili vinaigrette, minced pork stir-fried with pickled zha cai (mustard root), a sprinkle of toasted peanuts, some grated raw garlic, and finely sliced scallions.
Two Key Ingredients
The classic Sichuan duo. Toasted Sichuan peppercorns have a sweet, citrus-like aroma with a mouth-numbing quality, while roasted chili oil brings on the heat.
Roasted Ground Peanuts
The best way to grind peanuts is in a mortar and pestle for clean, crunchy bits.
Pickled Zha Cai
Preserved mustard root like this (often labeled "Sichuan Preserved Vegetable") can be found in cans or jars in your Chinese market. Once opened, they'll last for months in a sealed container in the fridge. You don't need much to add big flavor to dishes.
I like to use fresh Chinese noodles (available in the refrigerator section of many Chinese markets), though dried straight Chinese noodles will also work well.
Plenty of chili oil
Some hardcore versions of the dish have the noodles quite literally swimming in a bowlful of chili oil. I like my oil to coat the noodles and pool up a bit in the bottom of the bowl.