Everywhere noodle dishes, xiao chi, or “small eats” are found in hole-in-the-wall restaurants, food stalls, and places selling snacks. This is a typical Sichuan dish that is now popular throughout China, especially in the north. There are many versions of it and they are all easy to make, tasty, and quite filling, but this is an exceptionally delicious one I sampled at a tiny street restaurant in Chengdu, Sichuan.
Combine the pork, soy sauce, and salt in a small bowl and mix well. Heat a wok or frying pan until hot. Add the oil and deep-fry the pork, stirring with a spatula to break it into small pieces. When the pork is crispy and dry, about 4 minutes, remove it with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
Pour off the oil, leaving 2 tablespoons in the wok. Reheat the wok or pan and add the garlic, ginger, and onions and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Then add the sesame paste or peanut butter, soy sauce, chilli oil, salt, and chicken stock and simmer for 4 minutes.
Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling water for 2 minutes if they are fresh or 5 minutes if they are dried. Drain the noodles well in a colander. Divide the noodles into individual bowls or put them in a large soup tureen. Ladle on the sauce, garnish with the fried pork and Sichuan peppercorns and serve at once.
© 1990 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.