Pork Chop Noodles

Paigu Mian

Preparation info

    Appears in

    Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook

    By Ellen Schrecker

    Published 1976

    • About

    Flavor: Mild and GingeryMeal: One-Dish

    “The countryside around Chengtu was full of peddlers. They hauled their wares in carts or carried them in baskets over their shoulders, and each one had his own special noisemaker to tell people he was coming. They usually sold things like buttons or cloth, but some of them sold candy, and we children would wait in the dusty lane in front of the house for the sound of his wooden clacker. In the city, all the vendors sold food; you could get steamed and fried pastries and all kinds of noodles in Chengtu.”

    Even in Taipei, almost every street corner had its own noodle stand, usually a wooden cart containing several huge vats from which the proprietor would, for a few cents, ladle out a large bowlful of steaming noodles.

    This simple noodle recipe produces exactly the kind of dish such a vendor would sell. It consists of a serving of plain boiled noodles in a delicately flavored broth, topped off by a crisp and savory deep-fried pork chop. It sounds like an odd combination, but the crisp and subtly spiced meat and soft noodles complement each other beautifully. This is a good dish for a family supper; it’s filling, easy to prepare, and cheap. This recipe serves four.

    Method

    Preparation

    4 very thin pork chops (even with bones, they shouldn’t weigh more than 1 pound) Cut off most of the fat from the pork chops, but not the bones. Score the meat lightly on both sides in a tiny diamond pattern with the grids ½ inch apart. Then use the back of your cleaver (not the side) or some other heavy utensil to pound the meat as you would pound and flatten veal scallops. Do this on both sides so that the meat gets really thin. Then put the pork chops on a large platter.
    6 scallions Clean the scallions, then smash 4 of them with the flat side of your cleaver. Cut the scallions, both green part and white, into 2-inch lengths. Sprinkle them over the meat. Slice the remaining scallions crosswise into pieces ¼ inch wide; set these aside.
    1 inch piece fresh ginger Peel the ginger, then cut it into thin slivers, about ⅛ inch wide, the width of a wooden matchstick. Add to the meat.

    3 tablespoons soy sauce

    1 teaspoon sesame oil

    1 teaspoon granulated sugar

    Sprinkle the soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar over the pork chops. Turn the chops around in the marinade so the meat is well covered with it, then set aside for 10 minutes.

    Cooking

    1 pound noodles, fresh Chinese or fettucine

    Bring a large pot of water to a full, rolling boil. Add the noodles and cook them according to the directions on the package, probably 5 to 10 minutes, until they are done.

    While the noodles are cooking, get out 4 large bowls for serving them in (ordinary soup bowls probably won’t be big enough) and prepare the sauce for the noodles.

    (chopped scallions) Put equal amounts of the chopped scallions into the bottom of each bowl.

    ½ teaspoon salt, per serving

    2 teaspoons soy sauce, per serving

    ½ teaspoon sesame oil, per serving

    Then put ½ teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons soy sauce and ¼ teaspoon sesame oil in the bottom of each bowl.
    cup chicken broth, fresh or canned, per serving Pour ⅓ cup of chicken broth and ⅔ cup of water into each bowl.

    cup boiling water, per serving

    (noodles)

    As soon as the noodles are cooked, drain them and put an equal portion of them in each bowl.
    1 cup peanut or other cooking oil Meanwhile, heat your wok or the pan you normally do your deep-fat frying in over a high flame for 15 seconds. Pour in the oil.

    ½ cup cornstarch

    (pork chops)

    While you are waiting for the oil to heat up, a process that will take several minutes at least, pour the cornstarch onto a flat plate. Remove the pieces of scallion and ginger from the pork chops and dip each one into the cornstarch. Make sure that both sides of each pork chop are thoroughly coated with cornstarch; press it in with your hands, if necessary.

    When the oil in the pan is hot enough for cooking — when it is smoking lightly, put in the pork chops. They are so thin that they will cook very quickly, so turn them over after just 30 seconds. Fry them for about 1 minute on the second side and then turn them back on the first for a final 15 to 30 seconds. They are done when both sides are a deep golden brown.

    Drain the fried pork chops on paper towels for a few seconds and then place each pork chop on top of a bowl of noodles.