Better-Than-Takeout Udon Noods with Pork and Scallions

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I know you’re not supposed to pick a favorite child, but if I had to pit my weeknight noods against each other, this would win as my fave. It is insanely easy (especially if you are using instant udon noodles) and so quick to whip up on a hectic weeknight. 

Funky store-bought kimchi is this recipe’s secret short-cut to deliciousness. Quickly sautéed, it becomes sweet and caramelized. Cooking the kimchi removes a lot of the funkiness that alienates people from the fermented Korean veg, but if, like me, you like that fermented funkiness, save some to garnish at the very end.

Ingredients:

2 7-ounce packages of instant udon noodles (or similar thick-cut rice noodles)

1 tablespoon of neutral oil

¾ pound of ground pork

20 scallions, trimmed and sliced, white parts and dark green parts separated

1 14-ounce jar of kimchi

3 tablespoons of soy sauce

3 tablespoons of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1 lime

½ cup of peanuts (to garnish), optional

2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds


Method:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet or pot (I often use my Dutch Oven) over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add in ground pork. Season with a pinch of salt. Break apart into small chunks, and let cook undisturbed until it begins to brown and crisp. Cook until the pork is no longer pink. Remove from pan and set aside on a plate or bowl.

  2. Add jar of kimchi and white parts of scallions to the skillet or pot over medium heat, and scrape any brown bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Let cook for about 6 minutes, or until kimchi begins to slightly brown and breakdown.

  3. Add soy sauce, sugar, butter, and lime juice, and stir to combine. Add pork. Turn burner to low, and let sit while noodles cook.

  4. Cook noodles according to package instructions. Once cooked, add to pot with pork and kimchi. Add green parts of scallions, and toss everything with tongs until combined. Transfer to bowls, and serve, garnishing with chopped peanuts and toasted sesame seeds, if desired. 

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NOTES:

  • If you want to make this dish even more delicious (and a little spicier), add about ¼ cup of gochujang when you add the soy sauce. It used to be tricky to find, but now—with a little luck—you might be able to find it at your local grocery store. 

  • If you’re feeling inspired, add an egg yolk. I separate the whites from the yolk, plate my noodles, and add the egg yolk to the steaming noods.

  • There are a ton of variations you can make with this dish. Sub shrimp or chicken thighs for the ground pork. Add bean sprouts or pickled red onion or any of your fave crunchy vegetables to garnish. Top with a fried egg or a drizzle of Asian hot sauce. The possibilities are limitless. Make it your own.