Recipe: Five Spice Pork & Veggies with Udon Noodles

  • Five Spice Pork & Veggies with Udon Noodles
  • Five Spice Pork & Veggies with Udon Noodles
  • Five Spice Pork & Veggies with Udon Noodles
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Recipe Description

A few months ago, my friend Catherine hosted a dinner party for her gourmet dining group and asked me to lend her a hand.  After all, dinner for twelve is no easy feat to pull off, even with helpers in the kitchen.  Her assignment for that night: to serve a gourmet, Southeast Asian-themed dinner.  She had a great menu prepared for her ten guests, with each course as tasty as the next.  But I have to say that aside from the desert, one of the recipes really stood out for me: the five-spice pork belly.
Five Spice Pork & Veggies with Udon Noodles

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.

Five Spice Pork & Veggies with Udon Noodles

Since then, I’m occasionally struck with a random craving for that type of experience again: a warm, inviting plate of savory, spicy goodness that’s equal parts exotic and comforting. This weekend I decided it was finally time to put the craving to rest and doctor up my own version of this meal.  And with the help of this amazing deal, I scored on some pork loin, I got to work.

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?

But that’s the thing: pork belly is very fatty, a lot fattier than I care for under normal circumstances and, therefore, something I won’t normally buy (that & the fact that it takes a bit of hunting to find in my neck of the woods).  Lean pork loin makes this a much lighter meal without sacrificing a bit of flavor.  The tomatoes, onion, cilantro & spices take care of the rest.  I added a bit more texture by adding some crisp red bell peppers, then cooked up a nice put of udon noodles over which I could spoon my tasty little concoction.  The result was a delicious, deceptively easy to make dinner that I’d gladly eat a couple of days in a row.

Five Spice Pork & Veggies with Udon Noodles
If you’re not a fan of pork, don’t fret!  The simple ingredient combo makes it easy to modify this recipe with chicken or beef.  If you’re a vegetarian, give this a try with some seitan for a meaty, yet meatless alternative.  No matter which way you try it, this will be a fantastic dish.  It just goes to show that sometimes the most basic ingredients can result in the most spectacular meals.

Details Recipe Information

Ingredients

Method

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.
Bring the water to a rolling boil in a large pot and cook the noodles according to package instructions.  Drain, cover & set aside.
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.
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.
Serve a generous amount of pork & veggies over a bed of noodles, garnish with extra cilantro, and enjoy!
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