Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Rejiggered Sichuan spaghetti

Sometimes laziness has a payoff. I've been cooking Sichuan spaghetti for a while, and pretty much sticking to the original recipe from Bruce Cost's Asian Ingredients. But the other night, when I cooked dinner later than normal, I left a few of the extras out and wound up liking it even better.

All I did was stir-fry some ground pork in peanut oil until it changed color, then added four tablespoons of Lan Chi's Soy Bean Sauce with Chili and stir-fried some more. When done, I dumped it over some Chinese egg noodles. No extra chopped ginger or scallions, no sugar added to cut the hot sauce, no sesame oil tossed with the noodles, nothing.

This minimalist presentation threw the spotlight onto the meat and the hot bean sauce, and both were up to the challenge. In particular, this meal provided an opportunity to enjoy the complexity and depth of the sauce. The earthy flavor had a sort of wininess to it; the fermented beans were oddly reminiscent of not-too-sweet chocolate. Of course, it was lip-tingling hot as well. It was a rich savory meal that prospered, rather than wilted, from cutting out some of the extra ingredients. It was even better the next day after sitting in the fridge.

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