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.
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In a nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of canola oil. Add the drained noodles, stir and toss them so they are coated with the oil, then continue sautéing them. The goal is to make them nicely, lightly golden.Skip to next paragraph
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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Drain the pork and discard marinade. In another nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons canola oil oil to medium and add the ginger and garlic. Sauté for 90 seconds, then add the pork ribbons and turn the heat up a little. Cook, stirring and turning the pork ribbons, until they are no longer pink. Don’t worry if the ginger and garlic darken – they will taste good.
When the pork loses its pink color, add the chili paste. Toss and stir to spread it thoroughly. The amount you add depends on how spicy you want this dish to be. I ended up adding 4 tablespoons, which was twice as much as I expected to add but, in the end, it did not seem that hot. It depends on your palate and how fiery your chili paste seems on the day.
At this point, add the chestnuts and gently stir everything together. Turn the heat down.
Meanwhile, you are also keeping an eye on the noodles in the other skillet. Golden, not crispy, is your mantra.
When the noodles look sufficiently golden, turn the heat low under that pan. Give everything in the pork pan a light stir. Then add the kale, stir all together, and pour the sauce over all. Immediately start stirring and scooping everything together. It will start thickening immediately – keep the liquid moving so it does not stick. If it seems too thick or if you would like greater volume, top up with a mix of soy and stock.
When the kale wilts but is still bright green, this is ready. Serve by plating the noodles and dishing the pork on top; or stir everything together in one pan to incorporate it all. Sprinkle with the scallions and then serve.
Make it vegetarian. For the sauce, omit the chicken stock and substitute additional 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1/2 cup water. Instead of pork, use extra firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes and marinated without the cornstarch. And when choosing tofu, select a good quality brand and not the cheap stuff. Avoid the kind in the cardboard box – spend a few more cents for a far better result. Sauté the tofu until it is golden on all sides; after that, handle with care so it doesn’t break up.
Packaged chestnuts. Roasted, peeled chestnuts are now widely available. We used Trader Joe’s, which come roasted and vacuum packed from France. Asian and international markets often carry roasted, vacuum packed chestnuts from China. I like this product because I have never been very good at handling fresh chestnuts, what with the cross-cuts and the peeling and the high temperatures and all – I am always afraid I am going to chop off a hand (mine). So this product is welcome at our house. It’s not exactly fresh roasted, bought from a cheerful North African vendor over by the Rue des Halles, in a cone made from a bit of Le Monde, but it’s pretty darn good.
Related post from Blue Kitchen: Chinese sesame asparagus salad
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