Tantanmen: Sesame & chili ramen noodle soup

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The latest ramen craze is a sesame and chili-flavored powerhouse called Tantanmen. Perfect for manly meals or the gal who can't stand the thought of eating yet another salad this week.

Tantanmen is a popular Chinese noodle dish frequently served at Japanese ramen houses. It's become so popular, it's hard to say what the "traditional" recipe is. But this easy-to-prepare American version will bring the flavor of Asia into your kitchen with very little work. This spicy dish will leave you satisfied with a pleasantly toasty feeling in your belly.

Tantanmen soup recipe

Ingredients:

Broth:

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons chili bean sauce (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame paste (may substitute tahini)
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Meat:

  • 1/2 pound ground pork, beef or turkey
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon green onion bulbs, finely chopped (reserve green stalks)
  • 1 green Thai chili, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil or butter (for sauteing)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Other: 

  • 2 bricks ramen noodles
  • Green onion stalks, sliced (for garnish)

Tip: It's perfectly OK to use the cheapo ramen you used to eat in college. Just discard the flavor packet in favor of the delicious taste the Tantanmen broth will give it.

Directions:

  1. Bring the chicken stock to a medium heat (not a boil) and add chili bean sauce, sesame paste, soy sauce and brown sugar. Allow it to simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. In a small saute pan over low to medium heat, cook garlic and onion in olive oil or butter until translucent and fragrant (do not allow them to brown).
  3. Add the ground meat and cook until no pink remains.
  4. Add the Thai chili, soy sauce and sesame oil during the last 1 or 2 minutes of cooking and toss.
  5. Bring the broth up to a boil and cook the ramen noodles until they're done, about three minutes.
  6. Dish the noodles and broth into bowls and top with the ground meat mixture. Top with green onion for garnish and serve with extra chili bean paste.

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Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix the Fish. You can follow her on Twitter @HireHeather.

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