I don’t know what I like most about Slow Pork with Chow Fun Noodles and Kimchi–the braised pork, the chow fun noodles, or the incredible leftovers. This dish is an umami bomb. We made it twice, one family meal and one dinner party, and still had sufficient leftovers to freeze for a couple of Lonely Guy meals.
The pork is a straightforward braise, and Dutch oven or slow cooker works equally well. If you opt for the latter–and we did, both times–then sear the meat and prepare the braising liquid in a large sauté pan before adding everything to the crock pot. With a Dutch oven, everything is done in a single pot.
The chow fun noodles are optional (hey, everything in a blog is optional, right?), but if you substitute ordinary egg noodles you’ll miss one of the most slippery, sensual treats of the Chinese noodle kingdom. Although they go by ho fun or he fun in China, in the US they take their name from Chow Fun Beef, the popular American Cantonese restaurant dish of stir-fried wide rice noodles and beef. You can buy rice noodles in Asian groceries, but sometimes, as happened with us, you might find all of the pre-cut noodles gone (known as taking the fun out of life). No problem: purchase the folded rice noodle sheets and cut them yourself, as wide or skinny as you want. To cook, you need only stir-fry them. No boiling! With a little oil, scallion and garlic they’re addictively good.
Serious purists of Asian cuisines should stop reading now. Our refrigerator takes its marching orders from Walt Whitman: I am large – I contain multitudes. When kimchi lives on the top shelf with the milk for cappuccino, and leftovers from Puglia rub shoulders with ingredients from North Africa or Taiwan, then a little culinary polyamory is to be expected. That spotted Bosc pear Jody wanted to throw out this morning is going into a smoothie with one of the adjacent Thai durian pods for breakfast tomorrow. The upside to a polyglot fridge is food like this week’s recipe, which began life as Braised Pork and then the question arose, Braised pork with what? Well, kimchi, a fridge staple chez nous is a great counterpoint to rich fatty food. (Our kids grew up eating baked potatoes with Greek yogurt and kimchi.) Then it was Tinkers to Evers to Chance on the starch: first rice, then noodles, finally chow fun.
And when I went to the Hong Kong Supermarket for ingredients, I ended up scoring a durian. How great is that? Enjoy. Ken
Slow Pork with
Chow Fun Noodles and Kimchi
Serves 6 generously.
- 3 pounds pork butt, cut into 2-inch pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 head garlic, cloves smashed and peeled
- ¼ cup grated ginger
- ½ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes, canned or fresh
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 1½ cups chicken stock
- 3 stalks celery, peeled and sliced crosswise 1 inch thick
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1 inch rounds
- 1 serrano pepper, thinly sliced, most of the seeds removed
- 1 orange, 1 strip of zest removed; then peeled, pith removed and cut into ½-inch pieces
- ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 cups Kimchi, cut into julienne if the pieces are too big
If using a slow cooker, sear everything in a sauté pan and then transfer it to the slow cooker. If using a Dutch Oven, the searing can be done in the same pot. Our strategy was to braise the pork a day ahead so we could separate the meat and vegetables from the liquids, then refrigerate everything overnight so we could scrape the fat off the juices the next day. Before stir frying the noodles we recombined everything and reheated it.
- Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Season the pork all over with salt, pepper. Dust with flour.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch 0ven or large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the meat and sear all over until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. You may have to do this in batches. Transfer the meat to a plate or into a slow cooker.
- Wipe out the pan with a paper towel. Add the remaining vegetable oil to the pan. Add the onions, cover and cook 3 minutes. Remove the cover and continue cooking until they start to brown, about 2minutes. Add the sesame oil, cumin, garlic and ginger and cook 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, rice wine vinegar and chicken stock and and reduce by one third. Add the remaining ingredients, except the cilantro and kimchi and bring to a boil. If using a slow cooker, pour the vegetables over the meat. The liquid should come up just below the surface of the meat. Cover and cook on low heat 6 hours.
- If using a Dutch oven, add the meat back, cover and cook on top of the stove over the lowest heat for 3-4 hours.
- When the meat is tender, strain the juices into a glass measuring cup and refrigerate; spoon off the chilled layer of fat that forms on top and discard. If you want the juices to be thicker, return them to a small clean pot and reduce over medium heat.
- To serve, reheat the pork in its sauce while you stir fry the noodles (see below). Arrange the noodles on plates, top with pork, and garnish with cilantro. Serve kimchi in a separate small bowls on the side.
Chow Fun Noodles
Although the noodles are often stored in a a store’s refrigerator case, they should be at room temperature, or even a little warm, before stir frying them. The best option is to buy them and use them right away, like fresh pasta made from wheat. If you need to store them overnight in the fridge, warm them–IN THE PACKAGE–in a bowl of warm water. The noodles are generally slicked with a light film of oil so they’ll separate. If you try to do this when they’re still cold, they’ll break or tear.
- 2 tablespoons safflower oil
- 2 pounds fresh chow fun noodles, cut into 1-inch wide strips
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2/3 cup chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced as thin as possible
- Heat half the safflower oil in a wok until smoking hot. Add half the noodles and half the sesame oil and cook on one side until brown and crisp. Flip and cook the second side. Don’t worry if every surface doesn’t get brown, this is rustic and forgiving. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the second batch of noodles using the remaining oil.
- When the second batch is done, add the first batch back with the chicken stock, soy sauce and scallions and toss and cook for 3 minutes or so. Turn off the heat so the chicken stock doesn’t completely reduce.
I forgot to include the rice vinegar with the ingredients above, so it’s sharing space with the rice noodle sheets below.
While Ken was at home alone last weekend making his own crespelle and feeling sorry for himself, we were tearing up Oliver’s Bushwick kitchen with an ancho chili-flavored pot roast in his new $6.99 crockpot from a nearby Savers thrift store, some ginger and soy braised short ribs, Roxanne’s kimchi mashed potatoes, bok choy and mushrooms and a batch of Vietnamese dipping sauce from our Brussel sprouts post. I was inspired by all of this today.
I’m sure some of you are thinking, “This recipe has WAY too many ingredients,” but most of them are already in your pantry if you’ve been cooking with us for awhile. Hey, I’m doing you a favor. By using them up you’re making room for all those nuts, sugars and sprinkles you’ll have to buy for holiday cookie making.
Pork butt is a little fatty. If that bothers you, trim some off. But bear in mind the idea behind braising is to allow the fat to melt through the meat during the slow cooking, helping to keep everything moist. If you refrigerate the strained juices after cooking you can skim the fat away after it’s risen to the surface.
Check out the knife I’m using. It’s beautifully balanced with a clean sharp edge and an amazing handle. It’s made by my friend Adam Simha and he’s on the cusp of starting production on this line. If you want to a closer look at his knives, click on this link. The website also has a kickstarter link for people interested in purchasing a custom knife or investing in his new production line, but that link doesn’t go live until Monday. My endorsement of Adam’s custom knives is based entirely on my experience with one he leant me. I don’t own one and I received no compensation for allowing the knife to hang out in the kitchen with me for a few days.
Click on an icon for a closer look: