THE best vegan recipe on our site so far. No question about it.
Famous for their slightly numbing, tingling quality in the mouth, and their wonderfully fragrant peppery flavour, Sichuan peppercorns are the defining flavour of this classic Sichuan dish. They aren’t always to be found at the supermarket – we bought peppercorns off amazon – but do hunt them down if you can.
This recipe was a revelation. It was our first foray into ‘sunflower mince’ and we were entirely blown away. This mince is a doddle to cook with, has wonderful texture, and is a real flavour sponge – the perfect vehicle for such a bold, generous and juicy dish.
Sunflower Family’s sunflower mince is a zero waste product, made with fibrous protein-rich husks and seeds left-over after pressing sunflower oil. It’s organic too. Get ready to see many more recipes with sunflower mince here! We’re sold.
Dandan noodles are typically served on top of their sauce in the bowl; we love a juicy well-muddled tangle of deliciousness and thus have tossed the whole dish before serving. And – uncoventionally yet in the spirit of ‘use what you’ve got’ – we blanched lasagne sheets and chopped these into wide noodles, rather than buying new, but any noodle will work well.
For the mince:
- 1 tbsp coconut oil or sesame oil
- 1 brown onion
- 1 red chilli
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 large thumb ginger
- 1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
- ¼ – ½ tsp Chinese 5 spice
- 38 g sunflower mince
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 250 ml water
- 4 tbsp Shaoxing wine, optional
For the sauce:
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 100 ml water
- ½ lime
- 6 spring onions
- 1 small broccoli
- 1 head spring greens
- 6 sheets lasagne
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch your lasagne sheets for 6-10 minutes until soft through. Remove these from the water with a slotted spoon or tongs and spread them out on a chopping board to steam-dry.
- Prep your broccoli and its stem into florrettes and slices, and finely chop the spring greens. Make sure the pasta water has returned to a rolling boil, then blanch broccoli in the pasta pot for 4 minutes, and add in the spring greens after 2 minutes. Drain the two together and allow both to steam-dry well.
- Dice the onion as finely as possible (we want its texture to disappear into the mince!). Heat the coconut oil or sesame oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, and fry the onion for 6-8 minutes.
- Dice the red chilli, and mince/grate the garlic and ginger – we suggest using a microplane. Add these to the onions and continue to stir-fry for 2 minutes, keeping the heat low.
- Grind the Sichuan peppercorns in a pestle and mortar or pepper grinder and add to the saucepan along with the Chinese 5 spice and sunflower mince. Stir well.
- Stir-fry the mince for 2 minutes before adding the water and soy sauce. Pop on a lid and allow things to steam-cook for 5 minutes over a low heat. If it needs a splash more water during cooking add this as you go, and stir.
- Meanwhile, slice four of the spring onions into 2 cm lengths, and two into thin slices for garnishing. Add the 2 cm chopped spring onions to the mince, stir well and return the lid. Keep the finely sliced spring onion to one side.
- Mince the garlic and combine with all other sauce ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk well; stand to one side.
- If you have time, slice your lasagne sheets into wide noodles and toss with a teaspoon of oil to prevent sticking.
- After 5 minutes the mince should be looking dark brown and generously plump, if it’s stuck a little in places that’s totally fine – a little char equals more flavour and you can always add a splash of water to loosen. Cook for a further 2 minutes with the lid off until your mince looks crispy.
- Finally, add a splash of Shaoxing wine to deglaze the pan, if using. This will sizzle and disappear within 30 seconds, then turn off the heat.
- Add your sliced noodles, cooked broccoli and greens, and tahini sauce; stir well to coat things evenly. Tip into warm bowls and top with sliced spring onions and a generous squeeze of lime.
What to drink?
Orange wine! We enjoyed this with a skin contact Pinot Gris. Fragrant and spicy flavours of bitter tangerine, floral quince and even ginger complimented the fragrant, tingly Sichuan pepper. The wine’s bright acidity, elegant yet robust structure, and gentle bitter finish meant it could hold its own against this bold dish perfectly.