Friday, November 27, 2009

Pork Cubes with Garlic, Mushrooms, and Carrots over Shaved Noodles

This was another dish that my wife thought was just about perfect. My opinion is that the reason is centered in that I'm getting better at making the noodles.
The trick, really, is not overdoing the pork. Pork gets very dry very quickly when it's overcooked. Of course, it has to be cooked through, so don't underdo it either!

Ingredients:

  • One 3-cup recipe of shaved noodles (see below);
  • About a pound of pork chops, cut into half-inch cubes;
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, halved and sliced into quarter inch strips;
  • Two full-sized carrots, cut into two-inch boards and then halved;
  • About ten white mushrooms, cleaned and quartered;
  • Four or five cloves of garlic, crushed (first) and minced;
  • Approximately 1 inch of fresh ginger, minced;
  • 1-3 tsp (to taste) hot sauce;
  • 1-2 tbsp (to taste) soy sauce;
  • 1-2 tbsp canola oil;
  • Salt and black pepper to taste.
Directions Summary:
Start by putting a pan of salted water on to boil (for the noodles). Then prepare all of the vegetables and the meat. Set ingredients aside while preparing the noodle dough. When the dough is ready and the water is boiling (or very close to it!), heat the oil in the wok over high heat. Add all of the vegetables except the ginger and garlic and salt them. Then stir fry them momentarily. Shave the noodles into the boiling water, pausing occasionally to flip and stir the veggies, removing them from the pan when the onions start to caramelize. Set the vegetable mixture aside and add the pork to the hot wok. Season it with salt and pepper, and once it sears on one side, begin to stir fry it. Drain the noodles when they begin to float, after approximately five or six minutes in the boiling water. When the pork is nearly cooked through, add the hot sauce, toss the meat, and then add the vegetables back in. Add the soy sauce and mix thoroughly. Finally, either serve (traditional style, see below) or add the noodles to the pan and mix well.

Shaved Noodles:
To make shaved noodles, use a firm dough, approximately 3 to 1 (by volume) of flour to water, depending on the thirstiness of the flour. I add a pinch of salt and, in particular, King Arthur brand all-purpose unbleached flour. Combine the ingredients, mix until it starts to form a dough, and then knead well for 10-15 minutes (longer for chewier noodles, shorter for less-chewy noodles). Then, after the dough rests for a moment, use a very sharp knife to shave slices off the ball of dough directly into the boiling water (like this, only mine are shorter, probably thicker, and not nearly as professionally done... also, my pot is a lot smaller as is my ball of dough). When the dough ball gets too small to continue this safely, pinch it thin and pull/tear the noodles off by hand. Cook them until they float (usually 4-6 minutes after the shaving ends).

Traditional Style Serving:
Put some noodles in each of several bowls (one per person). Then, place a serving dish or the wok (with heat protection) full of the fried dish in the middle of the table. Condiments can be set nearby, if they're desired. Each person can spoon some of the fried dish into their bowl as they want and eat it directly that way, the whole family sharing in the meal process in an interesting, different, and somewhat more intimate way than we're used to in the West. Chopsticks, of course, enhance the experience!

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