Chinese-Style Braised Pork with Winter Vegetables and Noodles • Peanut-Cabbage Slaw • Multigrain Levain Rolls • Almond-Sesame Cookies
Lunar New Year starts this weekend; celebrations continue for two weeks. Semi-coincidentally, we’ve got an Asian-inspired meal this week. I mean, yes, I knew Lunar New Year was coming up, but mostly it just happens that all I feel like eating right now are stir-fries and rice and lots and lots of vegetables, all cooked with the flavor notes of soy and ginger and garlic and green onions.
The soup today is a spin-off of two concepts in Chinese cooking: red-cooked pork and pork braised in “master sauce.” Both recipes use similar aromatics: soy sauce, rice wine, ginger and garlic, and lots of spices—star anise, peppercorns, allspice, and cloves—that create a dark and fragrant broth. In traditional Chinese recipes, all the aromatics are simply simmered; I took a hint from Vietnamese pho, and seared some of the ingredients before adding any liquid, so there’s an additional layer of caramelized flavor. Pork shoulder is braised in this fragrant liquid until it’s soft and falling-apart tender. Roasted rutabagas and delicata squash and rice noodles fill out the bowl, and a sprinkle of cilantro brightens everything up.
Rice noodles are more delicate than what noodles. To make sure that they don’t end up mushy and overcooked, I soak them—but don’t fully soften them—before I add them to the jars. When you heat up the soup, make sure that you get it nice and hot. The heat from the broth will finish cooking the noodles, and the noodles will absorb the flavor of the broth. (If you only heat the soup until it’s warm, the noodles may stay a bit chewy.)
To accompany the soup, there’s a rich and savory salad. Those aren’t words that are usually used to describe “salad,” but in this case, they fit. The dressing is thickened with peanut butter, and there are more peanuts in the salad—they’re a lush and satisfying ingredient to add to the crunch of cabbage.
Almond-sesame sablée cookies are a sweet treat to end our meal. Fifty percent of the flour is replaced with ground almonds for a particularly tender and melting texture, and a couple tablespoons of sesame seeds are added to the dough for another nutty flavor. So very lovely, especially with a cup of tea.