Spicy Pork and Udon Stir-Fry

I love making stir fry for a quick midweek dinner, and this spicy udon has quickly become a regular go-to for me. I don’t typically love ground pork because I find it can be a bit dry, but in this recipe it soaks up all the spicy goodness and blends wonderfully with the pillowy udons and tender Napa cabbage. This recipe was originally inspired by Bon Appetit’s Better Than Takeout Udon recipe, but I made a few variations to suit my tastes (ie. adding gochujang for a more complex, spicy flavour) and now I can’t imagine ever going back to the original version without spice!

Another addition I made to this recipe are the dried shiitake mushrooms – one of my favourite ingredients to cook with. Dried shiitakes are different from fresh: they have a richer, more complex flavour that tastes great in stir-fries. I always make sure to pick some up when I’m at the Chinese grocery store because you can’t typically find them in North American grocery stores. They’re great to have on hand and toss in just about anything!

PRO TIP: Soak your dried shiitakes in a bowl of boiling hot water and cover with a plate. Reserve a bit of the water and toss it into your stir fry (it flavours things wonderfully) and always make sure to trim the stems off because they’re super chewy.

INGREDIENTS:

  • †4 cups coarsely chopped green cabbage (about half a medium head)
  • 4 single serving packages of frozen udon noodles (I try to find the ones with the fewest ingredients and no preservatives, the Asian grocery store usually has a wide selection)
  • 10 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked with stems removed and sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 package ground pork
  • 5 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup gochujang
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds for serving

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Boil water and cook udon noodles according to package instructions (the frozen kind often only need a minute or two in the hot water to be ready). Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add in pork, breaking up until thoroughly cooked through (ie. no pink is showing!)
  3. Add in shiitakes, chopped scallions (setting some of the greens aside for serving), ginger, and red pepper flakes. Combine thoroughly with meat, and then add in napa cabbage, cooking until tender and slightly wilted.
  4. Add in udon noodles, soy sauce, and gochujang, tossing constantly until noodles are thoroughly coated.
  5. Remove from heat and top with sesame seeds and green onions.

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