Sichuan Pork Noodle Soup

A rich spicy noodle soup from Sichuan Province in southwestern China.

Serves 4

6 cloves garlic, minced (or 3 tsp minced garlic from jar)
750 g pork shoulder, cut roughly into 2 1/2 cm cubes (don’t trim the fat)
3 cm piece ginger, minced (or 1 tbsp minced ginger from jar)
3 tbsp chili bean paste (douban jiang)
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1/4 cup Chinkiang black vinegar
3 tbsp rice bran or other vegetable oil
3 tbsp corn flour, mixed with 3 tbsp water
1 1/2 ltrs water
250 g thin Chinese wheat noodles, or ramen, or rice vermicelli for gluten free
3 bok choy (or pak choy) cut into halves or quarters lengthways (depending on size – quarters only if they are quite large)
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
Fresh red chilies, thinly sliced
Bunch of coriander roughly chopped

Combine the garlic, ginger and chili bean paste in a small bowl. In another bowl, combine the sugar, soy and vinegar and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Heat the oil in a large pot (big enough to also hold the 1 1/2 ltrs of water later on) over a medium high heat.

Add the meat and saute until it is sealed on all sides. Once the meat is browned, push to one side in the pan and add the garlic, ginger and chili bean paste and stir quickly for a few seconds before mixing through the meat. Add the soy mixture and saute together for another 1-2 minutes.

Add the water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer lightly for 2 hours or until the pork is tender.

In a separate pot, boil some water and cook the noodles according to the packaging. Drain and rinse the noodles under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Divide the noodles into four large soup bowls.

Add the cornstarch and water mixture and bok choy to the soup and simmer until the soup has slightly thickened and the bok choy has wilted slightly (around 2-3 minutes). Season with more soy sauce and/or sugar if required.

Gently ladle the finished broth, meat and bok choy over the noodles. Garnish with the spring onion, fresh chili and coriander.