April 05, 2011

Spicy Pork with Asparagus and Mushrooms + Sesame Soba Noodles with Spinach

The April 2011 issue of Bon Appetit featured an unusually high number of interesting recipes.  Some I'll probably make as written some day, but several more served more as inspiration for me to combine some of the ideas presented in the issue with some of my own idea.  The recipes below reflect the results of that inspiration.

In designing this meal, I decided I wanted to have a pork dish with vegetables, and combine that with a flavorful noodle dish.  One of the Bon Appetit recipes (Spicy Pork with Asparagus and Chile) looked pretty good, so I mostly followed that recipe, save for some changes intended to balance out the addition of some mushrooms.   The other dish I made really didn't end up much at all like the dish that inspired it (Soba Noodles with Salmon and Asparagus), other than the fact that both dishes involved soba noodles and spinach. 

The pork dish I ended up making was pretty darn good.  The bits of pork were spicy-sweet and full of flavor, and those flavors complemented the vegetables quite nicely.  The noodle dish would not have been particularly interesting on its own, but it served quite admirably as a side dish, to back up the pork.

Spicy Pork with Asparagus and Mushrooms

yield = 4 servings

4             tablespoons soy sauce, divided
1             tablespoon rice wine (or dry sherry)
2             teaspoons cornstarch
1             pound coarse-ground pork
3             tablespoons Asian (dark) sesame oil, divided
8             ounces button mushrooms, quartered
1             pound asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-
                 inch pieces
2             tablespoons fresh, peeled and grated ginger
2             teaspoons minced garlic
1/2          teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3             tablespoons oyster sauce
1             tablespoon honey

Mix 1 tablespoon soy sauce, rice wine and cornstarch in a medium bowl.  Add the pork, toss to blend, then set aside. 

Heat two tablespoons sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When the oil is shimmering, add the mushrooms.  Cook 2 minutes, then stir in the asparagus pieces and cook until tender-crisp (about 4 minutes), stirring occasionally.  Clear a spot in the center of the skillet and add the ginger, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.  Cook until fragrant (about 45 seconds), then stir in with the vegetables.  Remove vegetable mixture from the skillet to a serving platter.

Add the remaining one tablespoon sesame oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering.  Add pork mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pork is thoroughly browned.   Add the remaining 3 tablespoons soy sauce, oyster sauce and honey and cook until the liquid is thickened.   Transfer pork mixture to the serving platter, atop the vegetables, and serve.

Sesame Soba Noodles with Spinach

yield = 4 servings

3                tablespoons soy sauce
2                tablespoons Asian (dark) sesame oil
2                tablespoons rice vinegar
1                tablespoon honey
2                teaspoons fresh peeled and grated ginger
1/2             teaspoon white pepper
1                pound soba noodles
1                tablespoon table salt
6                ounces baby spinach leaves
2                tablespoons black sesame seeds (or ordinary
                   sesame seeds)

Start 3 quarts water boiling in a Dutch oven or similar pan.  Mix soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey, ginger and white pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Add the soba noodles and 1 tablespoon salt to the boiling water and cook per package directions.  Drain.  Add spinach to the pan used to cook the noodles, then return the noodles to the pan and add the soy sauce mixture and one tablespoon black sesame seeds.   Toss to mix thoroughly, then transfer to a serving bowl.  Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon sesame seeds.  Serve.

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