I have been in a creative black-hole lately. I’d rather get takeout or just follow a recipe and add this or that to it. To help in my culinary depression I wanted something pasta, something Asian, and something I haven’t prepared before. I perused Cooking Light and Southern Living mags but nothing caught my eye, so I happened upon a little cooking mag called Fine Cooking. Well, howdy-doo, they had several recipes to fit the bill. My choice Chinese Egg Noodles with 5-spice Pork. Why? It has bacon in it. (Josh’s ears just perked up)
Well, kids, it’s time for Culinary Wikipedia!
5-Spice - is exactly what the name states, it is 5 spices mixed together to create one spice. It contains star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and fennel seeds. And thanks to Josh for having some in his pantry!
Egg Noodle – Noodles made from egg, flour and maybe a little oil. Check the package though – many pastas look like egg noodles by the yellow color but it is a result of added yellow food coloring. Publix didn’t have a real egg noodle (all fake) so I had to use Lo-Mein…still good though.
What’s unusual about this recipe is that it starts out with a “paste” made from bacon, garlic and ginger, all of which are favorites of mine. Josh and I try our best to give you alternatives to gadgets in the kitchen but this one may be a little harder without a food processor, so if you don’t have a food processor you will certainly get practice on your knife skills. You will need to mince the heck out this mixture. Let’s get started.
Mischief Tip - Need any easier way to peel ginger? If you use a knife, you risk filleting a finger, so just use a spoon and scrape the peel right off. Safer and less painful.
Chinese Egg Noodles with 5-spice Pork
1/3 cup salted peanuts
1/4 lb. bacon (3 to 4 thick slices), cut in thin strips
2 medium cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 2-inch piece ginger, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup canola or peanut oil
3/4 lb. ground pork
1/2 tsp. five-spice powder
3 scallions, trimmed and sliced (white and green parts kept separate)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tabelspoon Asian sesame oil (Asian food section)
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoons granulated sugar
3/4 lb. fresh Chinese-style egg noodles (I used Lo-mein)
NOTE: I added a handful of baby spinach to the dish – I would suggest it.
Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, coarsely chop the peanuts in a food processor (or place in a zip-top bag and using a rolling pin on them). Transfer to a small bowl. Put the bacon, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes in the food processor and pulse to finely chop.
Heat the oil in a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet (I used my favorite cast-iron) over medium heat. Add the bacon mixture and cook, breaking it apart with a spoon until the bacon renders most of its fat and darkens somewhat, about 4 minutes.
Raise the heat to medium high and add the pork, five-spice powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until it loses all of its raw color, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the scallion whites, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, and sugar (I add spinach at this point). Keep warm over low heat.
Cook the noodles in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and put in a large bowl; toss in the pork mixture. Portion among 4 bowls, sprinkle with the peanuts and scallion greens, and serve.
I wouldn’t say that this is the most healthy of dishes due to the combination of bacon and two other oils but it is different…in a great way. Cooking something different did get my creative juices flowing. Sometimes I just need a little inspiration from other great cooks, so look out, there will be some great recipes coming.