We had a pile of not-so-fresh egg noodles in the fridge, procured during last week's expedition to Ocean View Supermarket. What to make? Nate's vote for chow mein didn't sound particularly appealing, and then I had a brainstorm. Dan dan noodles! Embarrassingly, the dan dan noodles I had my most recent experience with are not particularly authentic - the Marco Polo noodles from Long Life at the Metreon. These are the ground pork and cucumber version, and in the Long Life incarnation they have a slightly sweet sauce. Aside from this they are unremarkable. The other place I have had them is PF Chang's, where they are actually called Dan Dan noodles, and are ground pork and cucumbers with a spicy/salty sauce. I am mildly embarrassed that this is my only experience with the dish, as both of these noodle purveyors are poo-pooed (to borrow a Nate phrase) on the illustrious Chowhound. But it is, and I find them comforting, regardless of the inauthenticity.
On to the food-making. I found a PF Chang's copycat recipe for Dan Dan Noodles and began heating the wok. The sauce consisted of sherry, soy sauce, chicken broth, oyster sauce and something I'm surely forgetting. An aside on the sherry - the sheer volume of cooking wine sold at Ocean View is enough to boggle the mind and confuse any customer that does not read Chinese. This goes into the wok where the pork and ground chile is frying. And on and on.
We tuck into the noodles in front of a rerun of Mythbusters and begin enjoying the combination of crisp cucumbers, salty pork and chewy noodles. Really salty pork. Too salty. How can this be? I walk into the kitchen and there lies the answer - a full can of chicken broth that I forgot to include in the sauce. Instead of a 1:4 ratio of soy sauce to chicken broth we were probably working at a 2:1. Blech. I still feel like I swallowed sea water and that was two days ago.