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Pork, chestnut, kale stir fry over soba noodles

Ginger, garlic, and chili paste flavor pork stir-fried with chestnuts and kale and served over gently fried soba noodles.

By Blue Kitchen / October 24, 2012

This dish combines flavors of French cooking, but with the comforting feel of Chinese food. Use roasted, peeled chestnuts found at most grocery stores.

Blue Kitchen


We’ve often talked about our love for Chinese food, which for us is the ultimate in comfort food. In the last year or so, our adventures have led us away from our friendly old favorites in the kitchen, but some recent enjoyable dinners in Chinatown, and a memory of past pleasures, put it front and center for us again.

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Blue Kitchen

Terry Boyd is the author of Blue Kitchen, a Chicago-based food blog for home cooks. His simple, eclectic cooking focuses on fresh ingredients, big flavors and a cheerful willingness to borrow ideas and techniques from all over the world. A frequent contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times, his recipes have also appeared on the Bon Appétit and Saveur websites.

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This dish came together due to a fortuitous combination of impulse purchases, pantry staples, and a memory of other Octobers. Please note that in this recipe, I am talking about true chestnuts, from chestnut trees – not water chestnuts, which are the corms of an aquatic sedge. Think walking down the rue de Rivoli, at just this time of year. It’s evening, there’s a bit of chill in the air, the street is thronged with people, and you are dawdling along in your light wool coat, glancing into the gleaming windows and the faces of strangers, holding a paper cone of hot, roasted chestnuts you just bought from a street vendor and wondering where you’ll go for dinner.

This dish nods to Paris in the fall, but it primarily pays a visit to Asia, with aromatic ginger and garlic, spiciness from chili paste and hot bean paste, the warm, naturally sweet taste of soba noodles and everything stir-fried together.

When you’re in a mood that is part Arrondissement, part Chengdu, this just might help. It would make a very nice fall dinner. In the ancestral versions of this, the noodles are first boiled, then drained and fried in the same pot in which you make the pork, but this time I found it easier to sauté them separately until they were lightly gold, then introduce the two parts during plating.

Pork chestnut kale stir fry with fried soba noodles
Serves 4

1 pound pork, cut into 2-inch-long ribbons (I used boneless pork chops)

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoons ginger, crushed and minced

2 to 4 tablespoons chili paste (to taste)

A 6- or 7-ounce package of roasted, peeled chestnuts, cut or broken in half (see Kitchen Notes)

8 to 10 stalks of kale, ribs removed and the leaves torn into small pieces

12 to 14 ounces dry soba noodles

canola oil

4 scallions, roots trimmed, cut into rings

Marinade for the pork:

2 tablespoons soy sauce (reduced sodium preferred)

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon dry sherry [*editor's note: the sherry may be left out with little affect on the marinade]


2 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 cup water

1 cup chicken stock or broth

1 tablespoon hot bean paste

4 tablespoons dry sherry [*editor's note: the sherry may be substituted with 4 extra tablespoons of soy sauce]

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoon cornstarch

Cut the pork into ribbons about 2 inches long. Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl, add the pork, stir to mix everything and set the pork in a cool place. It should marinate for about 15 minutes.

While it is marinating, prepare the remaining ingredients. Put a pot of water on to boil, to cook the soba noodles. Combine the ginger and garlic in a small ramekin. Measure out the chili paste in another ramekin. Prepare the roasted chestnuts and tear up the kale. Mix the sauce ingredients in their own bowl.

When the pot of water comes to a boil, add the soba noodles and cook until al dente (probably about 6 or 7 minutes). Drain and rinse well in hot water.


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