Fermented black beans + lapsang souchong + pork = LOVE. I have been braising all manners of pork in various combinations of the above formula for a few years now and it never disappoints. As delicious as it is, it does typically take a chunk of time for my normal preparations (ribs, shoulder) though I have made a pressure cooker version that is quite good. I decided to try it with ground pork for a quicker, weeknight meal and was very pleased with the results. In just 30 minutes, the dish was done and the flavors just as complex as I hoped.
You can use many different types of noodles. For this version I used soba and the earthy flavor was very good with the sauce, but fresh alkaline noodles would also work well. This recipe would work well substituting crumbled, firm tofu for the pork. You could also try swapping the pork for ground lamb using orange marmalade in place of the maple syrup for a unusual but delicious twist.
Test Kitchen Notes
This is a great comfort food noodle meal, with a hint of the exotic. The fermented black beans give it a vaguely identifiable Asian umami, and the Lapsang souchong does add just a bit of smokiness. The recipe calls for 1 C steeped tea, but does not specify how much tea/how many bags or for how long. I had some loose tea leaves, so I steeped 5 g for 5 minutes. I think the finished dish could have handled a little more of that signature smokiness, but a little lapsang goes a long way, and I didn't want to overpower anything. I used cornstarch rather than rice flour, and soba for my noodles. I ended up thinning it out with about a 1/2 C of water, and my dish looked a lot saucier than the pictures indicate. The result was an enormous brown mass - hardly pleasing to the eye but quite tasty and satisfying. The green onions helped add color, crunch and a little zip, along with a side of steamed vibrant green broccoli. —Allison Bruns Buford
fermented black beans, rinsed and chopped
Note: If your pork is very fatty, you may wish to brown it first, drain it, and then sauté your shallots etc. Mine was fairly lean, so I browned the pork with the aromatics.
Heat peanut oil and cook shallots, garlic, ginger, and black beans for about 5 minutes until very fragrant. Stir in pork and cook until no longer pink. Add sherry and cook until no liquid is left in the pan. Add rice flour and stir, cooking a few more minutes.
Mix tea, syrup, and soy and add to pan, stirring to mix. Simmer about 5 minutes then add peanut butter and cook until thickened. If too thick, you may thin a bit with just a bit of water.
Cook noodles according to the package directions, drain, and toss with sesame oil. Stir in pork mixture and garnish with green onions. Serve with something green like bok choy, spinach, or broccoli.