I got very inspired late last night reading a beautiful cookbook “The Food of Taiwan” by Cathy Erway. Since it was late and I probably shouldn’t have been eating OR cooking, I picked a pretty quick recipe, Noodles with Minced Pork and Fermented Bean Sauce. Most of the ingredients are common pantry items and things you would find in the refrigerator.

The ingredients waiting to be tossed

The ingredients waiting to be tossed

I made a few intentional and some unintentional substitutions, which I’ll list below. Took about 45 minutes including prep and cooking. Makes about 4 servings.

Ingredients

Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp oil (vegetable or peanut) (I forgot this completely)
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tbsp fried shallots (I used fresh shallots instead)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweet bean sauce (I used hoisin sauce)
  • 2 tsps cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 to 2 tsp dark soy sauce

Noodles

  • 1 pound wheat noodles
  • 1/2 cup fresh or thawed edamame
  • 2 cups packed bok choy or napa cabbage leaves (I used bok choy)

For Serving

  • 1/4 cup black rice vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh bean sprouts (I only had canned and they did not taste good, so skipped these)
  • 1 cup julienned cucumbers

Method for the sauce:Fermented Bean Sauce

Heat the tablespoon of oil in your wok over medium heat and add the pork fat. Sprinkle with salt and sir-fry for about 1 minute. Then add the shallots, garlic and sugar and incorporate together. Stir in the sweet bean sauce. Separately stir together the cornstarch and water. Once the pork mixture is bubbling, add the cornstarch mixture, stirring until it thickens, ~10 seconds. Taste and season accordingly, soy sauce optional.

Method for noodles:

Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool.  Next bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil, and also prepare a bowl of ice water and keep to the side. Drop the edamame in and cook for 3-4 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drop the bok choy or cabbage into the boiling water for up to a minute. Remove and transfer to the ice bath to cool. When greens are cooled, shred them.

For serving:

Makes about 4 servings

Makes about 4 servings

Arrange your noodles in a large serving bowl. Drizzle the vinegar around. Ladle the pork sauce on top of the noodles. Then add all of the veggies to the top of the sauce. Toss everything together and serve. According to Ms. Erway, the dish is supposed to be lukewarm.

The dish was extremely tasty, and was a nice mix of protein, fat and carbs. Good dose of vegetables and the is not the star of the dish, but rather plays a supporting role. Definitely left me feeling satisfied. My only comment is that I like my food with a lot more heat, so I added a good dose of sriracha sauce just before serving.

The Food of Taiwan by Cathy Erway

The Food of Taiwan by Cathy Erway

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