Sichuan Crispy Pork with Noodles and Peanut Sauce

One of us learned to make this dish many (many) years ago when a school friend’s mother decided to share some of her family’s special recipes. The mother hailed from a small village in the northern part of Sichuan Province in China. Many of the classic Sichuan flavour traditions that she introduced us to - fiery hot chilis, garlic, ginger, and peanuts - are featured here.





While this dish does involve a fair bit of preparation time, and of course deep frying, please do consider giving it a go. We think you’ll be hooked once you try it, just as we have been for many years. Enjoy!


Marinade Time: 2 - 4 hours, or overnight in the fridge.


Serves two people as a main

Serves four people as part of a multicourse meal.


INGREDIENTS


Meat Marinade and Deep Fry

• 45 ml (3 Tbsp) for pork marinade

• 454 g (1 lb) lean ground pork

• Plenty of oil (we prefer peanut oil but canola oil works) for deep frying and wok stir fry





The Aromatics

• 2 green onions - chopped crosswise

• 3 large garlic cloves, pressed

• 7.5 cm (3 in) fresh ginger (about 3 Tbsp pressed)





The Sauce

• 250 ml (1 cup) chicken stock (fresh is best, but a high quality bouillon will work as well)

• 30 ml (2 Tbsp) for sauce

• 30 ml (2 Tbsp) chili oil or fresh hot Chinese chili sauce (*)

• 30 ml (2 Tbsp) high quality peanut butter (**)




The noodles:

• 250 g (approx ½ lb) Chinese broad egg noodles


Optional:

• 45 g (3 Tbsp) Sichuan peanuts chopped (for garnish)

* This dish really sings when you use an authentic Chinese chili sauce which includes the famous Sichuan peppercorn. This will give you both the spiciness this dish calls for, but will also give you that beautiful numbing quality that Sichuan peppercorns bring to the party. Using other Asian style hot sauces (like sambal oelek or sriracha) is not recommended but if that’s your taste preference go for it.


** We highly recommend using a natural peanut butter (smooth or crunchy are both fine) as opposed to the more readily available hydrogenated product. Using a hydrogenated peanut butter will make the dish overly salty.


PREPARATION


Step 1: Meat Marinade


Marinate the ground pork with 45 ml (3 Tbsp) soy sauce for 2-4 hours at room temperature (you can marinate the pork in the refrigerator overnight, but be sure to bring it to room temperature prior to deep frying).


Step 2: Prep

Just prior to heating your deep fry oil (for the pork) prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Start by finely chopping the green onions in a small bowl, then press the three garlic cloves into the bedding of chopped onions. This ensures that any of the delicious juice from the pressed garlic is captured by the chopped onion (trust us, this makes a difference). Then press your ginger into the bowl with onions and garlic; be sure to finely chop the ginger that’s left after the press and add it to the mixture. This will give the sauce some nice texture. Set aside.


Step 3: Make the Sauce Base

Gently heat the chicken broth and add the remaining soy sauce (30 ml), chili sauce and peanut butter (see video below). Keep this mixture gently warm (not boiling) until ready to use.




Step 4: Cook the Pork

Start heating a pot of hot water for cooking the noodles.


Meanwhile, return your attention to the wok. Heat your oil for deep frying (if you’re using a meat thermometer aim for 185 C - approximately 360 F) then carefully add half of the marinated ground pork (see video clip below). We highly recommend using a wok for the deep frying as this allows you to break the pork into smaller pieces using your chan. Aim for quite small pieces as you want the pork to be crispy when finished.




Keep an eye on your pork as it cooks, stirring gently in the oil and watching for the meat to get dark and crispy looking. Don’t worry if the meat appears to be shrinking (a lot); this is what you want as you’re aiming for crispy bits of pork to top off your noodles. This just comes with practise over time; don’t overthink this part.


When the first half of the pork is cooked strain it out of the oil and drain on paper towels (see video clip below). Add the second half of the pork and repeat. When the second batch of the pork is done carefully drain your oil and set aside (*Pro tip: be sure the container you drain into is warm so that it doesn’t break when the hot oil is poured into it. And don’t pour the hot oil into a plastic container. Use glass or, even better, metal).



Step 5: Aromatics

Wipe the wok quickly with a paper towel or cloth, then add approximately 45 ml (3 Tbsp) cooking oil and heat for stir frying.


Add the mixture of onions, garlic and ginger to the hot oil and stir fry for approximately 1 minute - just enough to flavour the oil and to give the aromatics a bit of a browning. Add the flavoured, warm chicken stock to the wok and stir gently as it comes to a boil. You want to reduce this sauce by about ⅓, or until it thickens enough to coat your chan (or a spoon) nicely.


Step 6: Cook The Noodles

As the sauce reduces in the wok, place the noodles into the pot of boiling water. Cook only until just done (al dente) then drain. Do not rinse. You want the noodles to be starchy so they coat nicely with the sauce.


Step 7: Plating

Divide the noodles into bowls, top with crispy pork. When you pour the sauce over the noodles, pour it through a small sieve to capture the aromatic mixture of onions, garlic and ginger (see video below). Spoon the aromatics onto each boil evenly. Top with chopped peanuts and serve.










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