Friday, August 9, 2013

Another Bowl of Noodles--Spicy Pork Noodles

Noodles are a no-brainer. Especially the pork-infused kind. I have a penchant for the spicy, tangy, saucy, slurpy kind. I look up sauces. I can't make pad thai for lack of several essential requirements. I look into Chinese style noodles but soy and oyster sauces have kind of played out in my kitchen. So I mix and mess with a short list of Asian ingredients. As I hold the fridge open, I spy Sambal oelek. Some Sriracha. And one of my most favored sauces-Kecap Manis. This sweet soy sauce has magical qualities that bring out that umami taste in almost any dish it graces. Some mint, cilantro and Thai basil from the garden bring out that fresh herbal taste. 

Comfort food has many so compartments. Noodles are part of so many cuisines. And every country has some variations. Wheat, rice, buckwheat are a few of my favorites. In fact the noodle drawer does need rearranging. Yes! I have a dedicated noodle shelf. Filled with all sizes and shapes. Cellophane noodles in small packages, always lost under larger packets of rice vermicelli. And then there are the usual suspects, randomly opened packets of pasta, generally escaping from their rubber band confines. Soba noodles are the neat freaks, always wrapped in beautiful paper holders. At one time pastina, alphabet noodles and elbows reigned supreme. Now we have graduated to the more sophisticated orecchiette, rigatoni and radiatore. So you see I get much satisfaction out of this coveted space. Let me not forget the freezer, where I store shanghai noodles, lo mein and udon

Spicy Pork Noodles
Serves 4 as an entree or 6 as a side

1 pound ground Pork
3 tablespoons Canola oil
1 Onion
5 cloves Garlic
5 slices Ginger
1 tablespoon Sambal oelek or chili paste
1 tablespoon light Soy sauce
3 tablespoons Kecap Manis
A squirt of Sriracha 
4 Scallions
6 Mint leaves
2 sprigs Cilantro
10 Thai Basil leaves
1 pound any chinese style Noodles 

Peel and slice onion and garlic.

Heat oil in a nonstick saucepan.

Wait till the oil is hot, then add the onions and sauté till they are golden brown.

Add the sliced garlic and ginger to onions and stir.

The pork goes in next. Use a spatula to break all the lumps so the pork is evenly broken up. Stir fry on a high flame till the pork loses all its pinkish color and accquires a reddish brown appearance. This might take anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes depending on your flame. The idea is to have cooked caramelized bits of pork.

The Sambal oelek, soy sauce, Kecap manis and Sriracha goes in. Keep stir frying on a low flame.

Heat 5 cups of water in a pot. When it boils add the noodles and let them cook for 5 minutes. Drain and add them to pork sauce. 

Thinly slice the scallions, using both green and white parts.

Roughly shred the mint leaves, cilantro and Thai basil.

Let the noodles and sauce sauté.

Sprinkle scallions and herbs over the noodle and serve.


Any form of  noodles or pasta can be used. 

Feel free to add any veggies of your choice.

I usually snip the cooked noodles with scissors to make them manageable. It's an old habit that I haven't grown out of. I snipped pasta for the kids whenever they had fettuccini or spaghetti. I still like those shorter strands. It is a  personal preference that you could completely disregard. 

Kecap Manis and sambal oelek is available at most Asian grocery stores or on Amazon.

If you like your sauce really spicy, add several squirts of Sriracha.

Chopsticks in hand I slurp noodles and pork. The notion of gratification from something long, toothsome and squiggly, seems like an alien concept. But I'm sure there are thousands who take pleasure in digging into like-minded bowlfuls of comfort. As for me, dinnertime is a happy place!