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Recipes of China: Danzai Noodles from Tru Grits

By Clarissa Wei

Nov. 23, 2017
A plate with Danzai noodles from Tru Grits
Danzai noodles from Tru Grits

The secret to this Southern Taiwanese dish is in the broth, foodie Clarissa Wei learns.

I know, I know.

Tru Grits in Anaheim, Calif., doesn’t sound like a restaurant where one would find fantastic Chinese food. The name is more likely to conjure up thoughts of Southern comfort dishes, like shrimp and grits and fried chicken and waffles. All of the above is indeed available at the restaurant, but many of its menu offerings are distinctly Asian.

Diners can enjoy Hainan chicken, beef noodle soup, pot stickers, and braised pork belly baos at Tru Grits, and it is one of the few places in Southern California to get danzai noodles, a uniquely southern Taiwanese dish. You can find it in their menu as Taiwan pork rice, just ask for noodles instead.

In Taiwanese, danzai noodles means “shoulder pole” noodles. This is in reference to Tainan vendors, who, in the olden days, carried buckets of noodles on a pole on their shoulders.

It is a celebrated dish in that part of the world, and, although vendors aren’t slinging noodles on poles anymore, there are quite a few danzai specialists in the south of Taiwan. For context, danzai noodle is to Tainan, Taiwan, as tonkotsu ramen is to Kyushu, Japan.

Chef Theresa Lin standing next to a table with dishes from Tru Grits
Tru Grits' corporate executive chef, Theresa Lin, is considered by many as the Julia Child of regional Chinese cuisine

At Tru Grits, all the dishes are products of its corporate executive chef, Theresa Lin, a celebrated Chinese food personality from Taiwan. She is considered by many in the food industry as the Julia Child of regional Chinese cuisine.

Lin has been developing a menu for Tru Grits that can appeal to the wide variety of clientele pouring into Anaheim—especially of the Chinese demographic.

It’s an unconventional setup; Tru Grits is located in the lobby of the Hotel Ménage. The restaurant is a welcome respite in a town that doesn’t have much of a selection of Taiwanese cuisine.

Lin kindly provided the recipe for the iconic noodles. Deconstructed, the dish is wheat noodles in a clear broth with ground pork on top. It sounds simple enough, but it’s the heavily flavored pork topping that has brought the dish such accolades over the years. Bean sprouts and cilantro can be put in for an extra layer of flavor. The secret, though, is in the broth.

Danzai Noodles

Cooking time: 1 hour

Serves: 10

Ingredients:

For pork bone soup:

  • 2 1/4 lbs of pork bones
  • 20 cups water
  • 50 shrimp
  • 5 tbsp oil
  • 1 cup shallot, minced
  • 3 stalks of green onions, chopped
  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 8 portions Taiwanese oil noodles (can be purchased at a Chinese grocery store)
  • Chinese parsley, for garnish
Directions:

To make pork bone soup stock:

  1. Boil pork bones in water and cook down until the soup is reduced by about a quarter.
  2. Add shrimp and cook for two minutes. Remove shrimp and peel. Put aside.
  3. Cook shrimp shells in the soup for 30 minutes. Remove shells.

To make pork sauce:

  1. Heat oil in a wok. Stir-fry the minced shallot and green onions in the oil for about three minutes or until fragrant.
  2. Add the pork and stir-fry until it turns white.
  3. Add sugar and soy sauce and continue stir-frying until you create an aroma.
  4. Add rice wine and bring to a boil. Add two cups pork bone soup stock. Cook for about two hours over low heat. (For richer flavor, add one chicken bouillon cube.)
  5. Cook Taiwanese oil noodles in boiling water around one minute until done. Drain noodles and place in bowls. Add one cup of pork-shrimp soup. Pour three tbsp pork sauce on top. Decorate with one peeled shrimp and some Chinese parsley.
  6. Serve a mixture of brown vinegar, white pepper, and smashed garlic paste to taste as condiments on the side, and let each person add to suit his or her individual taste.

Tru Grits: 1221 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92805

Hungry for more? Follow Clarissa’s journey through China as she uncovers authentic dishes and cultural insight.

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