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Black Bean Noodles with Pork and Mushrooms

Serves: Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces dried wide, thick wheat noodles (such as udon)
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 12 ounces ground pork
  • 4 scallions, white and light green parts minced, dark green tops thinly sliced
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup dry sherry
  • 3 tablespoons black bean garlic sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar, divided
  • ½ English cucumber, thinly sliced on the diagonal, then cut into matchsticks


Procedures:

This riff on Chinese zha jiang mian—or noodles with pork and fermented bean sauce—substitutes prepared black bean garlic sauce for the traditional and harder-to-find fermented yellow or brown bean paste. On its own, the sauce tastes intense, but its boldness is balanced by the neutral flavor of the noodles and the freshness of the cucumber. You can find it in the Asian aisle of most larger grocery stores. Make sure to thoroughly drain the noodles before portioning them; excess water clinging to them will dilute the sauce.

Don’t salt the water when cooking the noodles; the sauce provides plenty of salt for the dish. And don’t forget to reserve 1 cup of the cooking water before draining the noodles.


In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain and rinse under cool water until cold. Drain well, then set aside in the colander.

Heat a wok over medium-high until a drop of water evaporates within 1 to 2 seconds of contact, about 3 minutes. Swirl in the oil, then add the mushrooms and, using a metal spatula, stir-fry until softened and the bits clinging to the bottom of the pan begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the pork and stir-fry until crispy and caramelized, about 6 minutes.

Stir in the minced scallions, garlic and pepper flakes, then stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sherry and cook, stirring occasionally, until evaporated. Stir in the reserved cooking water, black bean, hoisin and soy sauces. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large bits of pork, until the sauce has the consistency of thin gravy, 4 to 6 minutes. Off heat, stir in 2 tablespoons of the vinegar.

While the sauce simmers, season the cucumbers with the remaining 1 teaspoon of vinegar. Divide the noodles among serving bowls, then spoon the sauce over them. Top with sliced scallion greens and cucumber.

by Christopher Kimball

 
 
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