Monday, April 21, 2014

Spicy Pork Noodles with Bok Choy from David Tanis...and they're Gluten-Free!

Maxim's Palace Hong Kong as I've never seen it...
I love dim sum, the tapas of China. I will never forget Andrew and my visit to one of the world’s most famous dim sum palaces, the strangely named Maxim’s Palace in Hong Kong.  And if you think it’s an odd name for a completely Chinese restaurant, you will likely find it equally surprising that the place takes up the entire second floor of Hong Kong’s City Hall.  There, in a vast space that resembles a western-style hotel ballroom complete with chandeliers, legions of Chinese ladies push cart after cart of dim sum through a maze of tables for 12.  The place is perennially packed, takes no reservations and requires a level of patience which quickly escalates the longer the wait.  We went there on a Sunday at noon.  You might have been able to convince me that every family in Hong Kong was there, so massive were the crowds and so long was the wait.   But the dim sum were sublime, the best I’d ever tasted.  I’ve wondered if I could ever re-create some of the dishes there.  So I was delighted to see that David Tanis had taken up the challenge.  In his New York Times column, David came up with a recipe for one particular dim sum for which I have a special fondness.  It’s the spicy pork-filled dumpling full of garlic, ginger and chiles.  And he did so without having to fill endless wanton wrappers to enjoy the flavors of this very satisfying dish. 

Chef David Tanis
What Chef Tanis did was to take the essence of the meat filling with its savory pork and tons of ginger to which he added silky bok choy.  He didn't make it into a dumpling at all. Instead he added rice noodles to substitute for the wantons.  These noodles, often found in Pad Thai, added texture to the dish and, for all those concerned about it, made the recipe gluten free.  It’s a very flexible recipe so if you’d care to swap out the ground pork for ground turkey or chicken, be his guest.  You could also use kale or Napa cabbage in lieu of the bok choy.  I keep a fairly good-sized Asian Pantry as I love to stir-fry. But if yours doesn’t extend to Chinese Black Vinegar, which is sprinkled over the sliced ginger, Chef Tanis says you can either leave it out or substitute balsamic vinegar which, although sweeter, will have a similar caramel notes to play off the ginger.   It takes all of 45 minutes to put together, probably not for the busiest night of the week but perfect when you can spare an extra 15 minutes or so.  Here is the recipe:

Recipe for Spicy Pork Noodles with Bok Choy from David Tanis in the New York Times.
Serves 4. Takes 45 minutes to make.  Get all ingredients prepped before you start cooking.

12 ounces baby bok choy (3 or 4 small heads)

         1 ounce ginger root (1 fat 2-inch-thick knob)
         Kosher salt
         8 ounces rice noodles, the ¼ inch wide size is best
         2 tablespoons peanut or safflower oil
         1 pound lean ground pork
         1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
         2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
         1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 fresh Thai or habanero chile, seeded if desired, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil, more for drizzling
Cilantro or torn basil, for serving
Black vinegar, for serving
Trim bok choy and separate dark green tops from white stems; leave tops whole and thinly slice stems. 

Peel ginger and finely chop half of it. Slice remaining ginger into thin matchsticks.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to package instructions. Drain and run under cool water; drain again.

Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook, breaking up with a fork, until golden and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar. Use a slotted spoon to transfer meat to a bowl.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Stir in half the scallions, the finely chopped ginger, the garlic and the chile. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. 

Add bok choy stems and a pinch of salt. Cook until bok choy is almost tender, about 2 minutes. Toss in leaves and return pork to skillet.

Toss noodles, remaining 1/4 cup soy sauce and 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar into the pan. Cook until just warmed through.

Transfer to a large bowl and toss with remaining scallions, sesame seeds, sesame oil and herbs. 

In a small bowl, combine ginger matchsticks with just enough black vinegar to cover. Serve ginger mixture alongside noodles as a garnish.


  1. OMGlutenfree!! This looks amazing, happy dance happy dance happy dance! Thank you Monte!

    1. Dear Ana, But you'd never know it from the taste! Hold onto your hat, I'll soon be posting a recipe for gluten-free, dairy free macaroons! MM

  2. This will be dinner! Thank you, Monte, for solving my ¨what are we going to have for dinner today?¨ dilemma! I´m sure it will be great.

    1. And a wonderful one it will be! So happy you use the blog, Connie. Means the world to me. XOXO M