Last week Annie P. sent me a recipe by Melissa Clark from the New York Times, and my mouth immediately started to water. I already had most of the ingredients in my kitchen (with the exception of the produce and meat), so we made plans to cook up these deconstructed dumplings, and I promised her that I would make enough for her to bring leftovers to her mother.
Spicy Ginger Pork Noodles with Bok Choy (serves 4)
- 12 oz baby bok choy
- 1 oz ginger root (1 fat 2-inch-thick knob)
- Kosher salt
- 8 oz wide rice noodles
- 2 TB safflower oil
- 1 lb lean ground pork
- 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 TB low sodium soy sauce
- 2 TB rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 fresh Thai chile, seeded and thinly sliced (keep seeds in for more spice)
- 2 TB sesame seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil, more for drizzling
- 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
- 2 TB black vinegar (Balsamic makes a fine substitute)
This recipe is basically a fancy stir fry that is comprised of Chinese dumpling flavors. And as with any stir fry, you want to have your ingredients prepped and sectioned into small dishes near the stove so that you can add them quickly and efficiently.
Start by separating the bok choy leaves from the stems, then chopping the stems into thin slices; put the stems and and leaves in two separate bowls. Then peel the ginger and cut it in half. Cut one half into matchstick pieces, and the chop the other into finely diced pieces. Put the matchstick ginger slices in a small dish and cover with black vinegar (I didn’t have black vinegar so I used Balsamic and it was just fine).
Take out four small dishes or ramekins and combine as follows:
- 1/2 TB rice wine vinegar, 1 1/2 TB soy sauce, and a pinch of salt
- Half the scallions, garlic, finely chopped ginger, and thai chili
- 1 1/2 TB rice wine vinegar and 1/4 cup soy sauce
- Sesame seeds, the other half of the scallions, and cilantro
Arrange the dishes near the stove so that the bowl of stems, dish 1 and dish 2 are closest to the stove; the bok choy leaves, dish 3 and dish 4 should be further from the stove. Keep the safflower oil and sesame seed oil close by.
Now that your prep work is done, it’s time to cook! While setting a pot of water to boil, soak the rice noodles in cold water for about 10 minutes. Once the water has boiled, transfer the noodles to the pot and lower heat to medium high, cook for 8-10 minutes or until done. Drain and rinse with cold water, tossing so the noodles don’t stick together. Set aside.
Heat 1 TB safflower oil in a large skillet over a high flame. Add pork to the skillet and sauté with a wooden spoon, breaking into pieces. Cook until browned and crisp – about 10 minutes. Add dish 1 to the pork and stir to combine, then transfer to a bowl.
Add remaining 1 TB of safflower oil to the skillet, then add dish 2 and sauté for 1 minute. Add bok choy stems and sauté for 2 minutes, then toss in leaves and return pork to skillet.
Toss rice noodles and dish 3 into the skillet and cook until just warmed – about a minute. Transfer to a serving bowl and add dish 4 and the sesame oil; toss to combine. Serve alongside ginger soaked in vinegar, and top each serving with a spoonful of ginger.
Annie P. and I both LOVED this meal! The flavors were delicious, and composed and cooked to resemble a dumpling almost perfectly. I followed the recipe to the T and I was concerned that it called for too much soy sauce, but it was just the right amount of saltiness. I would consider adding more bok choy for an extra layer of texture, and more chili (or leaving the seeds in) to kick up the spice a bit. The addition of the vinegar-soaked ginger was excellent, and Annie P. noted that it was meant to resemble the dipping sauce that Chinese dumplings are usually served with.
I served the pork noodles with a 2010 Saddleback Viognier from Clarksburg. The wine may have been a little too sweet for this dish, but it was a pretty good pairing. If I did it again, I would pair with something more dry and crisp – perhaps a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Gris from Sonoma. It would also pair well with a very dry Riesling from Germany.
All in all, it was an excellent meal and I can’t wait to make it again, as well as more of Melissa Clark’s recipes! I wonder what Annie P.’s mother thought of the leftovers…