Bean Thread Noodles with Meat Sauce

I want to be a Chinese teacher.  Obviously, this means I speak Chinese.  I learned Chinese in college and spent a semester abroad in Taipei, Taiwan.  I had an amazing time, and my language skills benefitted immensely.  When people ask me what the best part of my trip was, I often say the food.  Authentic Chinese and Taiwanese food is incredible.  It’s quite different from what we serve here in the States.

This is called a bian dang 便當 and is the Taiwanese equivalent of the bento box.  It’s composed of a slice of pork, sausage, tofu, half a hard boiled egg, and some pickled veggies over white rice.

Going to a large restaurant in Taiwan means ordering a number of dishes for your table, while rice is always available.  It’s also very common to have a take-out meal in Taiwan.  My favorite take-out meals were dumplings and different kinds of noodles.

Dumplings in spicy sauce.

Another great place to get food in Taiwan is at night markets.  Every night these markets appear in the streets of Taiwan, and sell clothing, jewelry, and other small items.  They also sell 小吃 which means “small eats.”  Here are a couple examples.

 

See something you like?  At this vendor, you pick your food-on-a-stick of choice, and it’s cooked right in front of you.

 These are little pieces of fried octopus.  Not my favorite.

These guys are hand held omelettes with pork filling.

I thing I miss most about Taiwan though, was the abundance of bubble tea.  Bubble tea is black tea (though you can make it with other teas) mixed with milk and sugar with large sweetened tapioca pearls.  It was invented in Taiwan in the 1980s, and is somewhat popular in the US now, but in Taiwan, you can buy it on practically every street corner.  When I was in Taiwan, I think I drank one every day.  I need to start making it at home.  And now on to my dish.

 

This dish is somewhat inspired by one of my favorite take-out meals while in Taiwan.  Plus I had some ground pork, and didn’t want to make dumplings, and this was a great alternative.  The sauce is slightly tangy and goes great over the bean thread noodles, which are great for slurping by the way.  This dish comes together quickly and serves as a great weeknight meal.

 

my favorite chopsticks!!

Bean Thread Vermicelli with Pork Sauce

Adapted from Martin Yan Quick & Easy

Makes 4 servings

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 pound ground meat (I used ground pork, but beef, chicken or turkey would work too)

¾ cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (I used Sriracha)

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 scallions, chopped

2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

4 cups cooked bean thread

Combine the first three ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.  Add the ground meat and stir to coat evenly.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  To make your sauce, combine ingredients from chicken broth to pepper together in a small bowl and mix well.

Place a large frying pan or wok over high heat until hot.  Add oil, swirling to coat the edges.  Add the garlic and scallions and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the ground meat and stir fry until browned and crumbly, about 3 minutes.  Add the sauce and bring to a boil.  Add the cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens, about a minute.  Remove from heat and ladle over warm noodles.

To cook bean thread noodles, soak in hot water for 5-8 minutes, then strain.

Note: all of these ingredients can be found at an Asian supermarket.  Better regular supermarkets will also carry most of the sauces, but not the noodles.  If there are no Asian markets in your area, asianfoodgrocer.com is a good site for buying Asian foods.

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