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Pork and Cabbage with Peanut Sauce Noodles

I'll often read someone's post about a meal they threw together and compliment them on coming up with something so tasty on their own. They'll frequently casually respond that it wasn't a big deal. "Necessity is the mother of invention," they'll say. But in my house, necessity often explains why we're eating cereal for dinner. I'm getting better though. I've finally gotten comfortable enough with cooking that I'm starting to look at what we have in the fridge and pantry and piece together something to eat based on constraints such as, "Well I thawed out that pound of ground pork so I need to use that. But the only veggies I have left are some cabbage." I looked up the seasonings for a few Asian Lettuce Wrap recipes and used that for the pork. The peanut sauce came from the Spaghetti with Chicken and Thai Peanut Sauce recipe.

Pork and Cabbage with Peanut Sauce Noodles

1 pound ground pork
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice wine
1 Tbsp sesame oil

2-3 cups of green cabbage, cut into small, narrow strips

3/4 pound of noodles (spaghetti or Chinese noodles)

For the Sauce:
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp lime juice
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter, preferably natural
1 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried red-pepper flakes, or to taste
1/3 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Yield: 4 servings

1. Mix the pork, minced garlic, soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil together. Let it marinate at least 30 minutes.

2. Cut up the cabbage and set aside.

3. In a stainless-steel medium saucepan, mix up all the ingredients for the sauce and bring it to a simmer over moderate heat. Stir until smooth and then keep warm.

4. Fill a pot with water for the noodles and set it to start boiling.

5. Stir-fry the marinated pork and crumble the meat. Once browned, mix in the cabbage and continue to stir-fry until cabbage is soft and no longer bitter. I even poured a little water into the pan.

6. Is the pot of water boiling yet? Now cook the noodles until done and then drain.

To serve, start with noodles on bottom, pour in some of the peanut sauce, scoop in some pork and cabbage mixture, and add some more peanut sauce. Mix it all up. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts on top.

Variation: Pork and Cabbage with Sesame Noodles
The sauce is equal parts sesame paste and soy sauce. You can find sesame paste in Asian grocery stores. I don't know if tahini is the same stuff. I've never tried making sesame sauce with tahini but maybe one of you knows and can tell me in the comments. Rest of this variation on the recipe was pretty much the same. Mix up the meat and let marinate at least 30 minutes. Cut up the cabbage and began sauteeing that over medium heat with grapeseed oil. After a few minutes, added some water and let it cook down until it got soft, adding water as needed. Cook the marinated meat and crumble the meat. Mix in with the cabbage. Boiled water to cook up some Chinese noodles. When noodles were cooked, mixed them with the sesame sauce. Top with cabbage and pork mixture. Drizzle some more sesame sauce on top and mix.

Variation: Tofu and Cabbage with Peanut Sauce or Sesame Noodles
To make a vegetarian version, use tofu instead of pork. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. I haven't actually tried making it this way but it sounds like it would be good. Tofu seems to be good at picking up the flavors of whatever you marinate or cook it with plus one of my favorite tofu dishes is fried tofu dipped in Thai peanut sauce.

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"eating cereal for dinner."

Coco Krispies ?

Re: "eating cereal for dinner."

ick. Never developed a taste for those. I like chocolate in chocolate form but tend not to like chocolate flavored things (so no Cocoa Krispies, chocolate ice cream, or chocolate milk).

I love Frosted Mini-wheats, Lucky Charms, and Cinnamon Life cereal. Lately though, it's been more whole grains types of cereals like the Post Great Grains cereal with raisins, dates, and pecans. That one's actually my current favorite.

Re: "eating cereal for dinner."

What about Frosted Flakes ? They are Greattttttttttttttttt ... !!! :-D

Re: "eating cereal for dinner."

I like those too but they're a slight bit too sweet for me now. That's saying a lot given how much I adore sugar.

Yum! I used to make a similar peanut sauce with chili oil and vinegar instead of chili and lime juice, but it's the same idea. Forgot about it for a long time though. I should make it now with broccoli and rice noodles.

Don't knock cereal. It's easy and crunchy!

Chili oil and vinegar eh? Cool...so when I run out of rice wine, maybe I can just substitute in some rice vinegar. I'm really low on rice wine but seem to have 3 bottles of rice vinegar. I can't even remember why I bought so much vinegar. Maybe it was while I was on a ribs kick. I think those recipes had used a good bit of vinegar.

oh I'm still a fan of cereal. I was just making fun of the fact that some people look in their kitchen and think, "ugh...there's nothing here. I need to go to the grocery store." And then they'll 'settle' for a meal of some fancy looking pasta dish with misc veggies or beans mixed in.

But in my house, necessity often explains why we're eating cereal for dinner.

HAHAHAHA! I have zero creativity in the kitchen, so that sounds like a great solution to me. :P

Worked for me for years! :-)

OK, now I am hungry. I need to make something with peanut butter one day soon! :)

I've also posted this recipe for African Chicken Peanut Soup that uses peanut butter. At this rate, maybe I need to buy more peanut butter.

Welcome to the land of meals transformed from leftovers ;) This sounds like another yummy and exotic meal!

BTW, made the Spaghetti with Chicken and Thai Peanut Sauce (with slight modifications) over the weekend and it was yummm! Thanks for the recipe. I used what I had in hand-chicken breasts from the whole supermarket roasted one I originally bought to eat as a meal itself; chopped roasted peanuts mixed into regular peanut butter; spring onions instead of scallions; and a couple of tablespoons of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce instead of red pepper flakes.

Photo here: http://pics.livejournal.com/88greenthumb/pic/000k1bx9/g133

Edited at 2011-04-13 10:46 pm (UTC)

Very cool! Thanks for letting me know :-) I'm still learning how to transform leftovers but I'm slowly picking up more ideas.

A friend of mine had a book on spices of the world. It spoke to pairing different spices and foods together based on where they are grown. It was an awesome guide and helped a lot with self-created meals. I wish I could remember the title!

Was it this book? (or a different cover here)

Oh...or maybe Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices, & Flavorings Oh never mind....as I keep clicking around, there are so many books on spices with recipes!

I love books about food - hah! I'm going to have brunch with her this morning, so I'll check in and see if she remembers!

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