Dumpling detour saves time on a weeknight

New York TimesMarch 11, 2014 

EASY DINNER

A garlicky and gingery noodle stir fry with bok choy, scallions and spicy pork. The dish, inspired by the spicy pork dumplings common on Asian restaurant menus, is easier for a home cook than assembling homemade dumplings.

EVAN SUNG — NEW YORK TIMES

For years I’ve been meaning to riff on a recipe for spicy pork dumplings, the kind filled with ginger and garlic and plenty of chili. I order them whenever I see them in restaurants or on takeout menus, but that does not satisfy the urge often enough.

Coming up with a fairly simple recipe that I could whip up at home would mean I could eat them more often – and they would be fresher.

The only major obstacle was forming each individual dumpling, which seemed like a lot of effort for a weeknight dinner.

So instead, I broke the dumpling components down, and reworked them into a multitextured noodle dish. It’s a shortcut recipe that is brimming with savory meat, silky bok choy and plenty of ginger, and it has the same pungent porky flavors as the dumplings.

Admittedly, it’s not the absolute speediest of weeknight dishes. But it still comes together faster than homemade dumplings would, and it’s even quicker than waiting for food to be delivered.

Plus, I can vary the ingredients to suit my taste, which in this case means using more vegetables, garlic and ginger and a little less pork. You can do the same, swapping out, say, turkey or chicken for the pork, or kale or Napa cabbage for the bok choy, which is definitely not something you can do at your average takeout spot.

Make this dish your own and you’ll probably make it often. I know I have.

Spicy Ginger Pork Noodles With Bok Choy

12 ounces baby bok choy (3 or 4 small heads)

1 ounce ginger root (1 fat 2-inch-thick knob)

Kosher salt

8 ounces rice noodles, not too thin

2 tablespoons peanut or safflower oil, divided

1 pound lean ground pork

1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, divided

1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 fresh Thai or habanero chili, seeded if desired, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil, more for drizzling

Cilantro or torn basil, for serving

Black vinegar, for serving

TRIM bok choy and separate dark green tops from white stems; leave tops whole and thinly slice stems. Peel ginger and finely chop half of it. Slice remaining ginger into thin matchsticks.

BRING a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to package instructions. Drain and run under cool water; drain again.

HEAT 1 tablespoon peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook, breaking up with a fork, until golden and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, 1 1/ 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar. Use a slotted spoon to transfer meat to a bowl.

ADD remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Stir in half the scallions, finely chopped ginger, garlic and the chili. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add bok choy stems and a pinch of salt. Cook until bok choy is almost tender, about 2 minutes. Toss in leaves and return pork to skillet.

TOSS noodles, remaining 1/4 cup soy sauce and 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar into the pan. Cook until just warmed through.

TRANSFER to a large bowl and toss with remaining scallions, sesame seeds, sesame oil and herbs. In a small bowl, combine ginger matchsticks with just enough black vinegar to cover. Serve ginger mixture alongside noodles as a garnish.

Yield: 4 servings

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