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May 25, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Quick roast pork and bok choi on noodles


I was considering equating this dish with a specific country’s cuisine but I couldn’t pick which one, and after pondering its possible culinary origins (apart from my head), I decided to just call it what it is. The trick is to roast the pork so that it loses its—as ridiculous as it sounds—pungent porky flavour, and instead is just nice rich meat.

Apparently the good use to which spices were put in India originates from its large vegetarian population wanting to make their non-meat dishes more exciting… I think you could do this same dish substituting fried tofu for the roast pork if you wanted a tasty vegetarian meal which is spiced up with cumin.

This recipe, bizarrely (and only because the phone rang) uses no oil. It is also a cheap meal; pork is cheaper than chicken, a bag of three bok choi heads serves me for three meals, and cumin seeds are very modestly priced and go a long way. I use egg noodles which are sold as packs of little bird nests, because I think it’s weird to use the two-minute style curly ones, but it wouldn’t really make any difference, and both are cheap. Also, it should be noted that I made this entire meal without using a knife or chopping board. You can just rip the bok choi leaves off their stalk base, and garlic is surprisingly easy to twist the skins off and tear into chunks. The point was to make as little washing up as possible. The use of scissors for spring onions is a pedestrian habit I have picked up from watching Nigella Lawson’s Lazy Express Meal shows on You Tube.

diced pork (around 100-200g per person)
2 tbsp cumin seeds
soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
4 large garlic cloves
1/3 cup of water
salt and pepper to season
thin egg noodles (2 ‘nests’ per person)
bok choi (1 head per person)
lemon grass paste
spring onions

NB you may need to increase the flavouring ingredients if you are making this for a large number of people. This dish was originally made for two.

Preheat the oven to 160C. Toss the diced pork in the soy sauce and sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Bash up the cumin seeds with a mortar and pestle so that they release some of their flavour but don’t become powder-like. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle then put them in a sturdy container and bash at them with the end of a rolling pin. Toss cumin seeds in with the pork and put it all in a roasting dish. Pork is pretty fatty so as long as you tong-around the pork bits during the cooking time it shouldn’t need oil. Pop in the peeled and roughly chopped cloves of garlic too. Roast in the oven for an hour, adding in the water halfway through to make sure that the pork doesn’t burn, but more importantly to help make a sauce in the bottom of the roasting dish. The pork is done when it is golden brown on the outside and can be torn apart to reveal a white centre (pink centre = not done).

Near the end of the hour-long roasting, put the egg noodles in a pot of boiling water with a good squodge of lemon grass paste and a dash of soy sauce for flavour. Over the boiling water and noodles put a steamer (or a colander – anything with holes) in which you put the whole bok choi leaves, including the stems, that have been washed free of any dirt. Put a lid on the top and let the whole kit and caboodle bubble and steam away for a couple of minutes (no more than five).

Drain the noodles, and put back into the now empty pot. Carefully, holding back the pork, tip the roasting juices from the pork over the noodles and mix in. Place the noodles on a plate with steamed bok choi on the side. Put the pork over the noodles and pour over any remaining roasting pan liquid. Chop spring onions over the pork with a pair of scissors and put a little soy sauce on the bok choi.


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