Wednesday, July 25, 2007

spicy and cool dinner

Summers in Japan are HOT, hotter than the summers that I am used to in Hawaii. In Hawaii, we have tradewinds, this makes the heat of summer bearable, in fact most homes in Hawaii do not have air conditioning, or at least where I've lived in Hawaii, we didn't. Japan's summers have this awful, wet humidity that makes every piece of clothing stick to you. (If you've been reading this blog, you know that I do not like summers here.)

One dish that I really like during summer is tan tan men. Most times when I eat this dish at Chinese restaurants I usually can't finish it and give it to Satoshi, it is so spicy that just a taste will do. I found out while watching a program that Japan added soup to this dish, apparently when you eat this in China, it is just the noodles and no soup.

I've been anxious to try making tan tan men after I found a recipe for it in a cookbook I have called "Tenyu".

First off, you need to make ja jan, this is the minced pork which I used to make ja ja men. I posted about that here.

Tan tan men for 1 translated from "Tenyu"
50g ja jan
30g spinach
1 bundle of chinese noodles

1 teaspoon tsuonyu*
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
3 tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
1/3 teaspoon minced tsa tsai (pickled mustard tuber)
2 tablespoons chimajan**
1.5 tablespoon ra-yu (chili oil)
1 tablespoon minced scallion

Soup: 320cc chinese soup

*tsuonyu is an oil that is made with leeks, ginger and lard
you can make your own with the following recipe:
300cc melted lard
50g green part of leek
30g thinly sliced ginger

Rip the leek with your hands and put into a pot with ginger. Put 50cc of melted lard into the pot of leek and ginger, cook until fragrant then add rest of lard. Do not mix too much and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Then turn up the heat to high and fry the leek and ginger. Strain the liquid. Keep up to 1 month in an airtight container, makes 300cc.

**chimajan is a sesame oil with more of a paste consistency like tahini. To make your own, follow this recipe:
500g sesame seeds
500cc canola oil

Roast sesame seeds in a pan until golden and fragrant, put out onto a pan to cool. The seeds roast pretty quickly so work fast, if burnt it will taste bitter. When cool, put into a food processor or meat mincer to create a paste, run through the processor/mincer twice. Bring the oil to 140-150C (I wasn't too sure what the Fahrenheit temperatures would be) and mix in with a wire whisk. Mix well. Keeps in an airtight container for up to 1 month, makes 850g.

Now back to making tan tan men....

Boil spinach and drain.
Prepare your noodles according to the package.
Put the ingredients for the sauce together.
In a bowl add the sauce, then add the soup. Place your noodles into the soup and top with the ja jan and spinach....enjoy!

NOTES: If you don't like it really soupy, the sauce and soup can actually be used for 2 people. I didn't use or make the leek oil, also I didn't have tsa tsai or spinach so I left that out. It still tasted great. I had somen (Japanese vermicelli) instead of chinese noodles. Oh, most important, I only put 1/2 tablespoon of chili oil. It was just enough heat to leave a little sting on your lips, without setting your whole mouth on fire.

So that was the spicy part of my dinner last night, the cool part was this 3-bean salad. When I was living in Hawaii, my mom would make this every so often and I like it because it is tart and makes your mouth pucker, plus I love beans! She uses 1 can each of green beans, kidney beans and garbanzo beans and adds diced onion and bell pepper. I couldn't find canned green beans and refused to pay the ridiculous price for canned kidney beans, so I steamed green beans and soy beans instead.

The recipe for the dressing is as follows:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup oil

NOTES: Try to make this a day ahead so that all the ingredients will be nicely marinated. I made this salad at lunchtime and it was pretty marinated by dinner time.

So, summer is finally here, the rainy season officially ended in the Kansai area yesterday. The cicadas are out and creating a ruckus. The news said that Osaka has the noisiest cicadas (um, okay...). They also said that today will be humid (I guess I jinxed myself...ugh.)


Rowena said...

Ok, now this is so weird! 'Cause that's what another chinese restaurant calls this noodle dish. Tan tan mein and that other place Dan Dan Mein. Looks so yummy Kat. :-D

K and S said...

Thanks, I have a feeling it may be a dialect thingy, Rowena. Hope you get to try making both :)

Take care.

Brilynn said...

I love spicy, this sounds like a dish for me!

K and S said...

I hope you get a chance to try this dish, Brilynn!

Thanks for stopping by and take care.

Madame K said...

I'm with you about humidity - it makes me so very cranky.

However, I'm a little envious of your life in Japan! I've become very interested in the idea of visiting sometime (that's a long way off).

I like the flavors you put together for this meal, especially the spicy followed by the cool beans.

K and S said...

Thanks Karen! I hope you get a chance to visit Japan soon (just avoid summer).

Thanks for stopping by and take care.

Tommy Schmitz said...

Wow! Finally. I lived in Tokyo for seven years. Tan tan mein was my very favorite. Ate it at least a hundred times. :) No restaurant (Chinese or Japanese) in America seems to make this.
And this is the first time I've ever seen a recipe . Doesn't look easy. But I know it'll be worth it. Thank you!

K and S said...

Hi Tommy,
It is a labor intensive recipe, but so worth it. I hope it is to your liking! :)

Take care.

Anonymous said...

oh my had my first tan tan men experience a couple years ago in yokohama, japan and loved it.

K and S said...

I'm glad your first tantan men was a good experience Anon :)

Take care.

Anonymous said...

Just discovered tan tan men in Tokyo, and loved it. Thanks for posting the recipe.

One question: the recipe calls for "320cc chinese soup". What's "chinese soup", exactly?

K and S said...

I hope you like the recipe Anon, I used "torigara soup" which is a soup made from the bones of the chicken. Sorry the recipe was unclear.

Take care.

Unknown said...

I tried a sichuan-style ramen soup in Narita, Japan that tasted AMAZING! I have been dying to find a recipe to make at home... But I am really confused on the terms, cause I found its called: shisen-ramen, shisuan-style-ramen, and now tan-tan-men, shisen-men (name on the menu). Can you help me understand the names please? THANKS!!!

K and S said...


sichuan is shisen in Japanese. Western style writing is sometimes Szechuan. I've not seen it this way but Tan tan Men is different, though it maybe called shisen men because it is spicy?

Anyway, shichuan = shisen = szechuan

Hope this helps.