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Spicy Peanut Noodles with Ground Pork and Shredded Vegetables

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Serves 4

  • by Liz Pearson from Fine Cooking
    Issue 110

Grated carrots, squash, and chopped mint balance the spicy heat of the jalapeños. For a milder dish, use only 1 chile and remove its seeds and ribs—they’re hotter than the flesh itself.

  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 lb. dried 1/4-inch-wide rice noodles (pad thai noodles)
  • 1 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
  • 3/4 lb. lean ground pork
  • 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter, preferably natural
  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 1 or 2 jalapeños, stemmed and finely chopped (seeded, if desired)
  • 2 medium carrots (about 6 oz.), grated
  • 2 large yellow squash or zucchini (about 1 lb.), grated
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rice noodles and cook, stirring often, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water; leave to drain in a colander.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tsp. of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and ½ tsp. salt and cook, stirring to break up the meat, until just cooked through, 4 to 8 minutes; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the peanut butter, vinegar, fish sauce, the remaining 1 tsp. oil, and 3 Tbs. warm water until smooth. Add the drained noodles, pork, jalapeños, carrots, squash, and all but 2 Tbs. of the mint and toss gently. Garnish with the remaining mint, and serve at room temperature with the lime wedges on the side.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 620; Fat (g): 29; Fat Calories (kcal): 260; Saturated Fat (g): 6; Protein (g): 26; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 6; Carbohydrates (g): 65; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3; Sodium (mg): 1000; Cholesterol (mg): 50; Fiber (g): 5;

Photo: Scott Phillips

My daughter really loved this recipe. I used chunky soynut butter because of peanut allergies and I used shredded carrots and shredded cabbage. I also used chopped poblano pepper instead of jalapeno, just because I had some frozen and chopped in my freezor. Would definitely make again but would add the jalapeno.

We very much enjoyed the dish, although I made a decision to spice it up after reading other reviews. I grated fresh garlic and ginger into the cooking pork. I added orange bell pepper and scallions, but I took 1/2 of all vegetables and sauteed them slightly and tossed them into the sauce, warm noodles and raw vegetables. I used lots of mint and the green parts of the scallions on top with Sriracha to taste. We enjoyed it a lot. I would recommend cooking noodles later in cooking cycle, rinsing in warm water and tossing warm...much better.

made this for the first time, and agree with other reviewers, it is a bit bland, and gummy. I even *doctored* it a little, based on the other reviews. There is potential, but haven't quite figure out which ingredients to add for a more zippy flavor. I added shallot, garlic, soy sauce. Because I wanted more veggies, also added steamed green beans, red bell pepper to the mix. Used soba noodles as couldn't find rice noodles at my local grocery store. I cooked those a shorter time, so they wouldn't go gooey and then ran hot water over them just before serving.I might give it a go again, just to see if can improve on it.

Used fettuccini pasta instead of rice noodles. Also used regular peanut butter, not crunchy and substituted zucchini with shredded cabbage for more crunch and omitted mint (don't like it). Next time I might use whole small dried red chili peppers instead of jalapeno.

My family and I thought this was a tasty dish! I julienned my zucchini and squash and added an onion and bean sprouts. Sauteed the veggies as I prefer them slightly softened. The sauce was tasty - used only one jalapeno with only a few seeds and mixed in with sauce, then added browned pork to sauce first, tossed well, then added remaining ingredients. Used mint, cilantro and basil to punch up flavor. YUM!

I found it a bit bland and gummy. I tried adding more fish sauce and chili paste to up the flavor. It was okay but not as good as I was hoping for either. But, I'll try it again with some more tweaking, as stated by another reviewer.

I thought this dish was absolutely delicious, and so did my husband. We made it exactly as it appears, using one jalapeno. It instantly became a make-again favorite.

I'm afraid I have to agree with BetseyB: I was really looking forward to this recipe, but it fell short. As it is, I'd really only give it 2 stars, but I think with some tweaks, it has potential so I'll give it 3. I used half of a large jalapeno, but I could have done with a whole and using some ribs and seeds because it really wasn't at all spicy (of course, that is probably the fault of the jalapeno and not the recipe). I did use the natural peanut butter as indicated in the recipe, but I think I would have preferred regular store-brand (I think my taste buds are probably used to the extra sugar in those commercial brands, making something more "real" taste a little "strange" to my tastebuds). In any case I also didn't really taste a strong peanut flavour. I didn't really like the combination of textures with the little peanut bits and the ground pork. I did make some changes: used only one zucchini, omitted the mint and used thai basil and cilantro instead. My husband didn't like the room-temp serving and heated his in the microwave. Having said that, however, I still have hopes for the recipe. Next time I think I'll use regular peanut butter and perhaps add a little hoisin and oyster sauce. Instead of minced pork I'd just cut some pork up into bite-size chunks or use chicken (also bite-size chunks). A little more jalapeno and I'll use more thai basil and cilantro next time. A bit of finely minced green onion might also be a good addition if you have some on hand.

I made this with one chili pepper, as the majority of our family prefers things less spicy, and found it completely boring and tasteless - not even any real peanut taste, which was surprising. I had high hopes for this dish.

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