Pork and mushroom noodles – a rich, meaty Chinese-style sauce guaranteed to liven up any noodles you choose…
Everybody loves noodles don’t they? Noodles are a staple diet for some, and the perfect comfort food for others. They come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and preparations, from wheat noodles in soup to fried rice noodles and the possibilities are potentially endless. So it’s not hard to see why people love them – not only are they tasty, they can be quick to prepare, filling and cheap to prepare.
Different cultures each have their own favourite noodle dishes, but as the scope of world noodle domination is far beyond the realms of this post we’re going to focus on a bit of Chinese inspiration.
I should say that the emphasis of this recipe for pork and mushroom noodles is very much on the sauce rather than the actual noodles – fresh or dried noodles are so readily available now that I wanted to focus on a tasty topping that can liven up the noodles of your choice. In fact, even if for some unknown reason you don’t like noodles, this sauce is versatile enough to spoon over rice, to use as a topping for tofu, or however you feel like putting it to work.
The sauce incorporates elements from three different noodle dishes – humble Hakka noodles, Beijing-favourite Zha Jiang noodles and spicy Sichuan Dan Dan noodles. The idea was to create a rich but well-balanced dish with multiple levels of flavour, so we start off with frying shallots and garlic until crisp – these are saved to sprinkle over the top when serving for an instant flavour hit.
The oil used for frying the shallot and garlic is then used together with classic Chinese aromatics in the form of spring onion, ginger and five spice powder, and dried shrimp/prawns (while optional) add another level of umami alongside usual suspects such as rice wine, soy sauce and sesame oil. I’ve also included hoisin sauce for added sweetness and bean-paste depth, and fish sauce and oyster sauce also go in to add further layers of salinity and umami. (While Dan Dan noodles are typically spicy, I’ve left the base recipe chilli-free so as to suit a wider audience – but if you can take the heat, this really benefits from a good slug of chilli oil before serving).
The mix is simmered for a while – I like to reduce it so it’s fairly thick, but feel free to adjust it to your liking by adding more liquid toward the end if preferred. The choice of noodles used is also totally up to you – I have a preference for thin yellow noodles, but this would suit most types, from udon to rice noodles.
The sauce is here to do most of the heavy lifting, so there’s not much else to do except tuck in! I’ve served these pork and mushroom noodles just with some simple steamed greens, and some pickled mustard greens on the side to cleanse the palate.