Monday, 15 July 2013

Thai Pork Noodle Salad

Sometimes I get a craving that only the flavours of Thailand will cure.  When this happens in the winter I normally whip up some tom yum soup (always have the paste in my store cupboard).  In the summer it has to be noodles.

This Thai Pork Noodle Salad is a variation of one of my favourite Thai dishes which is normally done with seared strips of sirloin steak on a griddle or the BBQ.   I didn't have any steak in the house and had the Thai food craving so I had a rummage in the freezer and defrosted some pork chops that were looking rather sorry for themselves.
The primary flavours are fresh and zingy and hot with the kind of sharpness that makes the edge of your jaw just below your ear tingle.  The salad element makes it look healthy and I never feel that guilty eating it, despite the noodles.  It would work well with prawns, chicken, thin strips of steak or piles of vegetables with a bit of substance and crunch like asparagus, carrot or courgette.  You could even get away with lentils in here I would think.

However you choose to make it, it is better, quicker and cheaper than a takeaway.

It is also really, really easy.

This makes enough for 2-3 people with leftovers for lunch the next day.  It is lovely cold at picnics, at your desk in the office, as a side salad at BBQ's and for fridge raiding at midnight. 
You will need:

4 pork chops, chopped into chunks.
2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 teaspoons sugar
1 bunch spring onions
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
Juice of 1 lime
Packet of quick cook (I use straight-to-wok) fine thread noodles.  Vermicelli or cellophane will also work but don't use anything thicker than fine thread.
1-2 Birdseye red chili (de-seeded if you want a little less fire, the ginger adds heat as well so go easy!)
Bunch of coriander, chopped
Salad  - whatever you fancy, pre-assembled in your bowls.

Pan fry the pork in a wok (or a large, shallow pan if you are wok-less) with a little oil (wok oil if you have it, ordinary cooking oil if not) until brown and then add the 5-spice and continue to cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the ginger, garlic and sugar and cook for a couple more minutes.  A note here, if you can, don't substitute the fresh herbs and spices for their dried counterparts as you just won't get the 'punch' that is the heart of this dish.
Add the noodles and cook for another minute.

Add the spring onions, chili, fish sauce, lime juice and a little salt and pepper.
Turn it all together and coat it all evenly.
Top the pre-assembled salad with the noodle and pork mix and serve with a great handful of coriander on the top.

Chopsticks optional!

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