Pork & Cucumber Noodle Salad
Asian cuisine traditions are many and varied. However, it could be said that some of the first convenience foods stem from these culinary approaches. Fast, simple, and delicious, many dishes are easily adapted to modern kitchens and modern ingredient bases. That makes Asian foods some of the most easily absorbed by other cultures across the globe. Their flavours, while distinct and instantly recognisable, are also some of the most delicious of the modern cuisine scene.
A Few Notes Before Beginning
You’ll want to source a local Asian market, since fermented beans are not in the common round of foods available in many Western grocery stores. These tasty fabaceae are a cornerstone of Asian cuisine, and ought to be among the offerings available to everyone. However, if your local supermarket doesn’t stock fermented black beans, be sure to find some nearby. It’s important to the appropriate flavour profile, and good for your digestive system, too.
As well, fresh wheat or buckwheat noodles will lend a superior and authentic flavour to your dish. You may want to pick these up at an Asian grocery store. Dried noodles may be used, but be sure they are Asian in style, rather than Italian. It will make a difference with both flavour and texture. Chinese pickles—carrots, garlic, and sliced ginger—add to the delicious authenticity of the dish. The recipe also calls for finely minced pork belly. You may do this at home with a meat cleaver. However, if you prefer, a butcher can also dress and prepare the meat for you.
550g Butcherman Pork Belly, finely minced and without skin
150g fermented black beans
325g fresh buckwheat noodles
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 cup pork or chicken stock
caster sugar to taste
3 slices of fresh ginger, bruised with the flat of a knife
3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
1 cup chopped shallots or green onions, loosely packed
Optional: sliced red chillis and mixed Chinese pickles to serve
First, if you elected to dice your pork belly at home, do so with your cleaver until the pork is finely minced. While you do this, you can soak your fermented black beans in a cup of stock. Water may also be used if stock is not available. Then, drain them and mash them coarsely with a fork.
Peel your cucumber and shred it lengthwise, stopping before you encounter the central seeds. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and allow them to rest for ten minutes. Then, drain them and set them aside for later.
In a large pot, heat water to a boil, adding salt to your taste. Reduce the heat until the water consistently simmers, and add your noodles. Cook the noodles until tender—check them at six minutes, if you use fresh noodles. Drain and refresh them with cold water, allowing them to drain again. Then, toss them with a bit of sesame oil to prevent them from sticking together.
While you wait for the water to boil, heat your peanut oil in a wok on high heat. Add the sliced garlic and the minced pork belly, stirring until the garlic begins to brown and the pork changes colour. Then, add the ginger, stock, and black beans, stirring to combine them well. Sprinkle the caster sugar over the mixture, which will help to thicken the juices into a delicious sauce. Permit the mixture to begin sizzling, evaporating most of the liquid. This will result in a thickened consistency perfect for dressing the noodles. Sprinkle the shallots over the top.
Serve the pork mixture over a bed of noodles on each plate. Garnish with mixed Chinese pickles or steamed black beans.
This delectable Asian dish is also perfect for lunch the next day. You can reheat it or enjoy it cold with plenty of sharp, pickled ginger and fresh, spicy chilli.