Two things that I love to eat are pork and noodles. Which means I’m always happy to find a dish that deliciously combines these two great ingredients. Some dishes, like Justin Quek’s gorgeous sounding tagliatelle with summer truffles and sauteed pork neck confit (from his new cookbook, Justin Quek, Passion & Inspiration), take quite a bit of work to make. Others, thankfully, are simpler. One of my favourite pork and noodle dishes is extremely simple. It’s just boiled noodles tossed with a sauteed minced pork sauce.
Both the Chinese and the Japanese make variations of this delicious dish. The Chinese call theirs Dan Dan Mian. It’s a traditional street food (supposedly) originally from Chengdu, in Northern China. You can usually find a version of it on the menu of any Northern Chinese dumpling restaurant. The Japanese enjoy topping either rice or noodles with stir-fried minced pork and spring onions. They call this quick and easy stir-fry Negi to buta-niku no itame (which is a bit of a mouthful for the rest of us).
Making either the Chinese or Japanese versions of this quick and simple supper is relatively easy. I suggest following the recipes faithfully once or twice first and then deviating at will and to taste. You can decide what style you want and how you want your pork flavoured. I change the way I cook this almost every time I make it, often based on what’s in my pantry and fridge at the time. You can also choose the kind of noodles you want to eat. I enjoy having mine with somen noodles. I like the weight, bite and taste of this wheat-flour noodle.
The great thing with this dish is that you can always cook up a little more minced pork than you need. Pop the extra portions in your fridge or freezer. And the next time you’re feeling a little peckish, a great, comforting meal is only minutes away. All you have to do is boil your noodles, defrost the pork and you’re ready to chow down.
Kimiko Barber’s The Japanese Kitchen has a great, simple Negi to buta-niku no itame recipe. I’ve copied it below for you all the try out. If you want a really good, authentic Dan Dan Mian recipe, you should check out Fuschia Dunlop’s Sichuan Cookery (called Land of Plenty in the USA). If you want to find a really simple version, however, you can pick up Les Huynh’s new book Takeaway.
Negi to buta-niku no itame
from Kimiko Barber’s The Japanese Kitchen
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
200g minced pork
4 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stalks removed, finely chopped
8 negi or spring onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan over high heat. Add the pork and chopped mushrooms. Stir-fry for 5 minutes before adding the spring onions. Add the sake and soy sauce to the work. Stir well, then serve over noodles or rice.