At our house, the Northern Chinese (not Korean) ragu: Ground pork (or 1/2 beef 1/2 pork), sesame oil, dried/soy tofu cubes, diced slightly boiled carrots, diced slightly boiled white turnip, black bean sauce, soy sauce, a hint of ground fresh garlic, touch of salt, touch of pepper, small shot of corn starch in solution, a dash of MSG (yes, MSG - deal with it). Note I did not mention suan cai or gan cai (preserved or dried vegetables).
You can use sweet bean sauce with actual black beans also.
Northern China in my house means the general provincial areas of Shaanxi, Beijing, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Hebei, Lianoning & Shandong. The legend is that my great-grandfather got this recipe from his time in Harbin (minus MSG).
At your consternation, I will stop typing stereos as well. Onegashimasu.
Zha Jian (either Korean or Chinese versions) are pretty different from Dan Dan sauce.
Just because both (or all three) have pork doesn’t mean they’re either similar in prep, taste, or ingredients. Sort of like saying both pizzas and lahmacuns are bread products topped with tomatoes does not mean that the two are prepped similarly, or even comparably.
For what it’s worth, only dan dan sauce traditionally uses preserved vegetables (yai cai), never zha jian (either Korean or Chinese versions).
Americanized and sometimes Taiwanese versions of Dan Dan sauce will use peanut butter (or sesame paste). In the case of Taiwanese dan dan sauce made with peanut butter it is more properly called “ma jian” (or 麻醬) and not “dan dan” (or 擔擔).
Traditional Sichuan dan dan sauce never has peanut butter (or sesame paste).
None of these sauces – zha jian or dan dan – are soupy. Paste-y? Yes. Soupy? No.