Noodle Quest 2010: Entry 1

I am so obsessed with noodles, you guys. I always have been; my known weak spots are generally fried dough (donuts, elephant ears, churros, etc.), assorted other fried foods (clam strips, sausage-stuffed olives, duck fat fries, etc.), flat breads, and noodles. Mmmm, carbs and fat. Also garlicky kale, thank god.

A couple weeks ago I met my cousin Sara for lunch at Blue Ginger, out in Wellesley, where chef Ming Tsai has recently added a Noodle Bar to the lunch menu. I ordered the yakisoba (“Ramen Noodles and Garlic-Ginger-Tamari Sauce, served with carrots, bell peppers, onions, cabbage and scallions”), subbing in pork for chicken, and received a heavenly (spicy) bowl of chewy noodles and ridiculously flavorful minced or ground pork. I ate all the noodles and as much pork as I could shovel up with my chopsticks, but I had plenty leftover to mix with a package of ramen at home for dinner that night. (I left out the “flavor”/MSG packet and let the sauce on the pork do the work.) When Ben returned home from the trip that was allowing me to eat noodles multiple times a day without anyone knowing (until now), I decided I’d try to recreate the dish at home.

And by recreate, I mean I made noodles with pork. Flavors and vegetable content ended up being totally different. Perhaps because it was only now that I looked up the menu online and saw tamari listed as a key ingredient in the sauce. This will be an ongoing quest, unless Chef Ming decides he wants to share his recipe. I did meet him briefly at the restaurant, where he was styling food for a photo shoot, but I failed to beg for the recipe. He was super nice, though.

IMG_6005

I patched together a sauce with pretty much everything in the fridge, plus a crazily hot black bean/chili sauce I grabbed at Whole Foods. I kept adding splashes of this and that, so I have no proportions or measurements, but I used hoisin (fatal mistake), soy, rice wine vinegar, the black bean/chili stuff, sesame oil, and maybe some of the chili-garlic sauce I keep around. Eh.

I chopped up spring onions and napa cabbage, minced garlic and grated ginger.

IMG_6009

Then I cooked about a pound of ground pork in the wok, with half of the garlic and ginger. At the end I poured in some of the sauce and cooked it off to coat the pork.

IMG_6011

Set that aside, then stir-fried the onions with the rest of the garlic/ginger.

IMG_6013

IMG_6014

And then the cabbage.

IMG_6015

Once the cabbage was wilting, I added in the rest of the sauce and got it simmering.

IMG_6017

And then the unruly mass of the cooked noodles entered the scene.

IMG_6018

OMG. I really need to get a source for the delicious square chinese noodles my mom always used. The ramen were SO hard to deal with, all curly and tangled together. I adjusted the flavoring with more soy at that point, because the hoisin had made everything too sweet.

The final result was tasty, but it didn’t hold a candle to the Blue Ginger dish. I will track down the right noodles and some tamari and give it another go when we’re back from Europe.

IMG_6025

Does anyone have a noodle dish they swear by? I have a good-looking recipe from my mom to try out, but I welcome all suggestions.

3 thoughts on “Noodle Quest 2010: Entry 1”

  1. I have been dying to go to Blue Ginger! I interviewed Ming a couple of years ago for the magazine I worked at–sweetest guy. And his food was amazing. I also love his little PBS show. When we spoke he was in the process of renovating the bar/lounge area. He promised I would melt over the ‘bings’, a traditional Chinese street food he’d be serving, …ah, you’ve inspired me. I am making it to Blue Ginger this year, hell or high water!

  2. I think my favorite spot for Chinese style noodles is Malaysia– though I’ve yet to find a really good recipe to help replicate the flavors I enjoyed there. I think part of the trick is using kecap manis for the thick, dark soy flavor, incredibly hot heat (their woks were often surrounded by flames from the stove), and a good combination of different meaty textures, like pork and shrimp together. -X

Leave a Reply