April 30, 2014

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Photo by Judith Hausman

Quick and versatile, this Asian-inflected noodle dish is perfect to make use of the first small amounts of new greens and young scallions. I bridged the seasons with the very last of the cabbage from last fall’s harvest and the very first of the spring’s turnip raab. Baby bok choy, totsoi, Napa cabbage, spinach or chard would be good substitutes. The seasoning delivers roughly the flavors of a Chinese dumpling without the filling and folding.

Make an effort on the herbs since their leafy freshness will make for a spring-ier dish, but if you don’t have rice noodles, use spaghetti instead. And no habanero? Another chile will do. My pork was from a local farm and quite lean, and while ground turkey will work if you prefer it, turkey might require a tablespoon of oil for the browning. 

It’s a three-part preparation — pork, noodles, vegetables — but the timing isn’t difficult, and everything ends up in the same big pot or bowl.

Servings: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 small onion, 1 large shallot or 3 scallions, chopped
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • about a cup of cabbage, thinly sliced
  • about 2 cups soft greens (see suggestions above), torn or chopped
  • 8 ounce rice noodles, medium width
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons + 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 hot chile (habanero or Thai), seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds (optional)
  • cilantro or basil
  • sesame oil, to taste
PREPARATION 
Break the pork up with a fork and brown it in a large, hot pan in its own fat until cooked through. Season with 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1/2 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar. Use a slotted spoon to remove pork from the pan and set aside.

Meanwhile cook the rice noodles in boiling water, 6 to 8 minutes until soft.

Add about a tablespoon of peanut or canola oil to the same pan, and sauté the onions, ginger, garlic and chile for about a minute. Add the greens, and cook them until just wilted. Put the pork back in the pan and warm through.

Then, toss the drained noodles, the pork and greens mixture, the sesame seeds, herbs and sesame oil with the remaining 1/4 cup of soy sauce and 1 1/2 tablespoons of  rice wine vinegar. Serve immediately.

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