Oh, this is a good one, but the recipe author is unclear to me. It’s from the David Chang and Peter Meehan collaborative book called, of all things Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes: The First Cookbook from the Cult Food Magazine. Yeah, that’s a mouthful. When the book came out in 2015, they sent out a preview PDF, and this recipe was included in that. I haven’t actually bought the book yet, and that’s why I’m not exactly sure who’s recipe it is. If I had to guess, it’s David Chang’s creation.
The dish is delicious, and like many Chang-related recipes, it’s a fusion of two culinary traditions. In this case, Meehan describes it as “This bastard love child of Bolognese and mabo-dofu is a de-escalated and simplified version of a dish from [Chang’s] Momokfuku Ssäm Bar.” Better yet, “You will Win Friends and Influence People by serving it in your home.” I’ll let you know how that goes when the pandemic is over and we can have guests again.
Lucky Peach was a really cool culinary magazine that Peter Meehan and David Chang published. The photo of this dish was taken on the cover of their Fall 2016 issue, because it was the perfect background for the photo. Sadly, they closed the publication in early 2017, for what I can only assume, were financial reasons. It’s a shame, because the magazine was the James Beard Award winner for Publication of the Year in 2016. It seems, though, to have suffered from a lack of popularity, as many works of high quality do. The truth is, most people gravitate towards shit, dragging the rest of us down with their poor taste.
So on that cynical note, on to this delicious dish.
What you’ll need:
- 2T neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable
- 2 large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced (about 5 cups)
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1T chopped garlic
- 2T doubanjiang or gochujang (Korean spicy bean paste)
- 1T Sichuan peppercorns
- 1t chili flakes (preferably gochugaru)
- 1T soy sauce
- 1T sugar
- 0.25 cups water
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 2 cups bok choy, coarsely chopped
- Ramen, lo mein, rice noodles, spaghetti or even rice–I used a Chinese ramen-style noodle
- Chopped scallion greens as a garnish
What to do:
Heat 1T oil in a large high-rimmed frypan or 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and cook, stirring and folding, until the onions are lightly golden but still firm enough to maintain their shape (about 15 minutes). Move the onions to a plate and wipe out the skillet with a paper towel—careful, it will be hot!
Heat 1T of oil in the same frypan over medium heat, then add the pork and cook it, breaking it into pieces, until just cooked through.
Move the pork to one side of the pan and add the garlic to the cleared area. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Now stir in the chili-bean paste, peppercorns, chili flakes, soy sauce, sugar, water and the cooked onions. Add salt, to taste. At this point you could refrigerate the sauce for later. If you do, reheat it before moving to the next step.
Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat and stir in the bok choy. Cook for about 5 minutes until the greens are tender.
Serve over noodles or rice. Garnish with chopped scallion greens (optional).
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