A favorite dish from an old teacher, this is a Chinese pasta with meat sauce. The noodles evolved from two of my favorite recipes by Chinese cookbook author, Gloria Bley Miller.
There’s a curious juxtaposition in Chinese food. Marrying flavors into a complex whole is a technique the Chinese do best, yet no other cuisine plays opposing textures with the precision that they do. You’ll taste it all in this suave Hoisin-scented pork with slippery noodles and crunchy water chestnuts, all finished with raw, crisp vegetables.
Before there were cooking schools and Chinese food experts on television, there were the books. Through her writing, author Gloria Bley Miller was one of my first teachers. Her book, Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, (Grosset and Dunlap, 1970) was a classroom in itself. She stayed at my bedside for years.
Cook to Cook: The secret of success for every stir-fry is to have each ingredient prepped and ready to go before touching the wok, and watch timing carefully.
I favor the pork shoulder cut called butt for its excellent flavor and proper balance of fat to lean for Chinese dishes.
If you can find fresh water chestnuts, their special sweetness and juicy crispness will greatly enhance the dish. They will need peeling.
This dish is best cooked and served immediately.
The Four Flavors:
1-1/2 cups thin sliced radishes
1-1/2 cups bean sprouts
1/2 cups peeled, seeded and diced cucumbers
1-1/2 cups thin-sliced fresh spinach leaves
5 quarts of boiling salted water in a 6-quart pot
3/4 pound (12 ounces) narrow Chinese egg noodles, or imported spaghetti
1 pound ground pork butt
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
hot chile paste or hot chile powder (use more or less to taste)
3 tablespoons expeller pressed canola oil or other neutral tasting oil
Heaping 1/2 cup thin-sliced whole scallions (about 4)
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
3/4 cup chicken broth
Place each of the “four flavors” in a separate small serving bowl.
Bring the salted water to a boil. Drop the noodles into the boiling water and boil, stirring often, until tender but still firm to the bite. Drain them in a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, use a fork to blend the pork with the sherry, garlic, and the sugar. Let stand while prepping the rest of the dish.
In a small bowl, blend together the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and the chile paste.
Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Swirl in the oil. When it is hot, add the pork. Stir-fry it 3 minutes, breaking up any chunks. The meat is ready when it is no longer pink and most of its liquid has cooked off. Add the scallions and water chestnuts. Stir-fry 45 seconds more.
Stir in the soy sauce mixture, and stir-fry 1 minute. Add the broth and heat quickly. Then cook, stirring, 2-1/2 minutes over high heat.
Add the noodles and stir-fry them for 1 minute more to permeate the noodles with the sauce. Turn the noodles into a large bowl. Serve them immediately with bowls of the four flavors.
Variation: Hoisin-Scallion Fried Rice with Egg
Follow the recipe, substituting 3 cups of cooked rice for the noodles. Eliminate the pork and its flavorings and the chicken broth. Make the sauce blend of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and chile paste as directed in the recipe above. Heat the wok and oil as directed above. Stir-fry the rice with the scallions and water chestnuts for 2 minutes. Add 2 beaten eggs, and continue stir-frying the rice until the eggs are in firm threads. Add the sauce mixture and cook another 30 seconds. Serve the rice accompanied by the four flavors.
From The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift, Clarkson Potter, 2008.
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