Cooking Lesson #233: Sweet and Spicy Pork and Napa Cabbage Stir-Fry With Spicy Noodles
… from the California Kitchen
How you doin’? Over the years there have been many wars fought over food. The pasta wars raged between parties crediting either Italian or Chinese invention of the noodle. Recent archaeology seems to have given pride of invention conclusively to the Chinese, who can also claim gunpowder, silk, paper, compasses, the novel coronavirus and, quite possibly, global circumnavigation. But the actual noodles unearthed at a 4,000-year-old Chinese archaeology site are not your average mei fun.
Marco Polo doubtless enjoyed many great meals in the palace of the Chinese emperor in the 13th century. It is very probable that he brought a dried version of the noodle back to Italy. But when Polo was in China during the Yuan Dynasty, noodles were already a common dish in both northern and southern regions of the country. Their origins were apparently much older. Early Chinese noodles were both startlingly similar and significantly different from the stretchy, chewy varieties served today.
Four thousand years ago, an epic disaster wiped out the city of Lajia on the Yellow River with cataclysmic speed. The earthquake and subsequent river flooding buried an overturned pot, preserving a nest of long yellow noodles under a wall of mud. When the noodles were unearthed in 2005, their existence conclusively ended the argument about who had the earliest claim to the noodle.
The Thai sweet chili sauce gives this dish a sweet and spicy flavor that many kids love. You can adjust the heat level by adding more or less of the sauce or adding additional red pepper flakes, if you like it hot.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
For the noodles
Salted Water for Boiling
12 ounces dry Chinese lo mein noodles (or spaghetti)
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
3/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons sesame oil
For the meat marinade
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (1 pound) pork loin, cut into 2-inch strips
For the stir fry
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 medium onions, cut into bite-size pieces
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
3 cups chopped Napa cabbage
3/4 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced carrots
3 red bell peppers, chopped
For the thickener
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
ChefSecret: The success of this recipe and most other Asian meals is to have all the ingredients portioned out in small bowls and stage in the order of their use.
Covid-19 Quip of the Day: “It’s been a great blessing to be at home with my wife these last few months. We’ve caught up on everything I’ve done wrong in the last 20 years.”
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