Anyone else finding themselves extra hungry from the workouts lately?? Maybe it’s the heavy lifting we’ve been doing or the longer WODs that crush us but the hunger that coincides with Crossfit can be fierce! Doesn’t matter if you’re paleo, count macros, or stuff your face with whatever because you’re on the see food diet . . . chances are you’ve experienced what it’s like to feel hangry. I know I can’t be the only one who’s part way done with one meal and already thinking about their next. What can I say . . . . I genuinely love food. Heck, I love food and cooking just about as much as I love lifting, thankfully the two marry together great!
For those of you not enjoying an amazing Box Bistro meal or who are looking for something different to make for dinner some nights, here’s my favorite recipe from the “Well Fed Weeknights” cookbook (I’m even making this tonight for dinner and I’m so excited lol . . . there will be no survivors). Yes it is Paleo. Yes it is easy to make. Yes you will have quite a few dishes BUT it’s an amazing dish that doesn’t take long to make.
Dan Dan Noodles from Well Fed Weeknights
Dan Dan Noodles are one of the most popular street foods in Sichuan (a.k.a. Szechuan) province of southwestern China. The cuisine of the region is known for its bold flavors, with lots of garlic, chiles, and Sichuan pepper. The name “dan dan” refers to the pole that noodle vendors used to sell their wares. It was carried across their shoulders, a basket of noodles on one end and the spicy sauce on the other. Traditionally, the noodles swim in a face-tingling broth and are topped with minced pork and preserved vegetables. This fast, paleo version uses zucchini noodles for slurping, cornichons for an acidic tang, and a separate chili oil so you can customize the heat.
Total time: approx. 40 minutes
Ingredients: (Serves 2-4 people)
For the noodles:
- 2 pounds zucchini
- 2 teaspoons salt
For the chili oil:
- ½ cup light-tasting olive or avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- ½-inch piece of cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
For the pork:
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger
- 1 jalapeño
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1½ pounds ground pork
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons tahini or almond butter (I prefer almond butter)
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ cup coconut aminos
- 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- pinch coconut sugar (optional – I omit)
- ⅓ cup cornichons (optional – I also omit)
garnish: a handful cashews or sunflower seeds, 2–3 scallions
Make the noodles. Julienne the zucchini with the spiralizer. Place the noodles in a colander and toss them with the salt until the strands are lightly coated. Set the colander in the sink to drain while you prep the other ingredients.
Make the chili oil. In a small saucepan, combine the oil, peppercorns, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes. Warm the oil over medium-low heat while you cook.
Cook the pork. Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, 2 minutes. While the oil heats, peel and grate the ginger, mince the jalapeño, and peel and crush the garlic. Add the aromatics to the oil and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Crumble the pork into the pan, season with the salt and pepper, and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until it’s browned, 7–10 minutes.
Make the sauce. While the pork cooks, place the tahini, sesame oil, Chinese five-spice, and black pepper in a small bowl and mix with a fork. Add the coconut aminos, vinegar, and sugar; stir until combined. Chop the cornichons and set them aside.
Put it together. Add the sauce to the meat in the skillet and stir to coat the meat. Add the cornichons to the skillet, toss to combine, and transfer the meat mixture to a large bowl. Reheat the skillet over medium-high heat. Rinse the zucchini noodles under running water, drain well, and squeeze them dry in a clean dish towel. Add the noodles to the heated pan and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes until hot. Return the meat to the pan and toss with two wooden spoons to combine; allow it to heat through. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cinnamon stick from the chili oil and discard it. Set the oil aside to cool. Chop the cashews and scallions.
To serve, divide the noodles among individual bowls and top with a drizzle of chili oil, then sprinkle with cashews and scallions.
Spiralize the zucchini, make the chili oil, and prep the sauce in advance; store everything in separate airtight containers in the fridge. When it’s time to eat, cook the pork and put it all together according to the directions.