Photography, Maya Visnyei.
Top Chef Canada judge and camping lover Chris Nuttall-Smith wants you to rethink your camping repetoire with this recipe from his new cookbook, Cook It Wild.
Serves 2 to 4.
- 8 oz lean ground pork
- 5 1⁄2 tsp soy sauce, divided
- 1⁄4 cup plain bread crumbs
- 1 (7 oz) jar Sichuan chili oil or spicy chili crisp 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 11⁄2 tbsp Chinkiang vinegar
- 11⁄2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1⁄2 cup unsalted peanuts
- 1⁄2 (to 1) tsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 3⁄4 cup water + more for cooking the noodles
- Prepared pork (dehydrated)
- 1⁄3 cup Sichuan ya cai
- 12 oz thin Chinese wheat noodles or udon Prepared sauce (thawed)
- Prepared peanut topping
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
Cook and oven-dehydrate the pork.
In a small bowl, combine the pork, 1 teaspoon of the soy sauce and bread crumbs, and knead the mixture with your fingertips until fully incorporated. Let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, line a large plate with paper towels.
In a dry medium-size nonstick skillet over high heat, add the pork mixture and sear, breaking it up with a spatula or spoon, to thoroughly brown and crisp the meat, 8 to 12 minutes.
Transfer the pork to the prepared plate to drain, blotting well to remove excess fat, then dehydrate and pack.
Prep the sauce
In a small bowl, combine 1⁄2 cup of the chili oil (liquid only; you may need to top up with vegetable oil), 3 tablespoons of the chili oil solids, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and remaining 41⁄2 teaspoons soy sauce and stir well.
Transfer the sauce to a leakproof container and refrigerate or freeze. (It will keep for 2 months, frozen.)
Prep the Sichuan peanut topping
In a dry small skillet over medium heat, toast the peanuts and peppercorns until the nuts begin to sizzle gently and colour, and the peppercorns are nicely fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Let cool. Using a rolling pin or mortar and pestle, smash the nuts and peppercorns into a coarse mixture. Transfer to a small container or resealable bag.
Rehydrate the pork
In a medium skillet over medium heat, combine the dehydrated pork and water and bring to a simmer. Cook off most of the water, stirring occasionally, 5 to 8 minutes. Before the pork becomes completely dry, add the ya cai to the pan and stir to warm through. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Cook the noodles
Boil the noodles according to package instructions. When nearly done, scoop and reserve 1/4 cup of the noodle water from the pot.
Assemble and serve
Meanwhile, divide the prepared sauce among bowls. When the noodles are done, drain and divide among the bowls over the pools of sauce. Top the noodles with a splash of the reserved cooking water to loosen them. Add the pork and the peanut topping, then garnish with the green onions. Toss to coat and serve.
The prepared sauce and ya cai keeps 5 days unrefrigerated, or 2 weeks if kept cold.