It wasn't like it was rocket science, or some exquisite, gourmet creation involving the most expensive items out there. The ingredients were quite simple: pork belly, spices, onions, cilantro & tomatoes. That's it. What left me so incredibly smitten was the combination of flavors, the way such a simple lineup of ingredients could form such an intensely flavorful, aromatic dish.
I can't recall exactly which cookbook she said she got the recipe from; nor can I recall exactly what went into the dish, since I was busy playing sous chef & server while she handled the big stuff. All I remember are the enticing aromas & flavors that left me addicted to their memory for days afterward.
Pork belly enthusiasts are probably gasping in horror right now at the fact that I would forsake the sacred belly for tender, meaty loin. It's not that I don't like pork belly; how can anyone resist such flavorful, porky, fatty goodness?
seitan for a meaty, yet meatless alternative. No matter which way you try it, this will be a fantastic dish. Just goes to show that sometimes the most basic ingredients can result in the most spectacular meals.
Five Spice Pork & Veggies with Udon Noodles (makes 4-6 servings; total cost per serving: $1.85)
1-2 lbs lean pork loin, cut into 1" cubes
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
2-3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 T Chinese five spice powder
1/2 T salt
1 T brown sugar
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1 t crushed red chilies
1-2 T cooking oil
2 T water
1 8 oz package udon noodles
4 quarts water
1. In a small bowl, combine the Chinese 5-spice powder, salt, cayenne and brown sugar, and mix until completely combined. Place the cubed pork loin in a large bowl, pour the dry rub over the meat, and toss together until the seasoning mixture evenly coats the meat. Cover & set aside for about 30 minutes.
2. Bring the water to a rolling boil in a large pot and cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain, cover & set aside.
3. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add the garlic and stir fry quickly until it starts to brown & become fragrant. Add the onions and cook for another minute or so, until they begin to turn translucent.
4. Next, add the seasoned pork. Stir fry for about 2-3 minutes, then add the red peppers, tomatoes & water. Reduce heat to medium and cook for another 4-5 minutes, until the pork is cooked through. Check for flavoring & adjust according to taste with a bit of salt if needed. Finally, add the chopped cilantro and stir until combined. Remove from heat; the warmth of the skillet will finish wilting the cilantro.
5. Serve a generous amount of pork & veggies over a bed of noodles, garnish with extra cilantro, and enjoy!