If you’re thinking “It has pork and rice cakes, it must be another recipe from Momofuku,” then you’re correct. In the interests of accuracy, the full name of the dish is Spicy Pork Sausage & Rice Cakes, Chinese Broccoli & Crispy Shallots. I was looking for something else to make with my abundance of ground pork, and this fit the bill.
As with most Chinese-based recipes, there was quite a bit of prep involved. I rounded up eight ounces of silken tofu, a pound of ground pork, three large thinly-sliced onions, a tablespoon of light soy sauce, six tablespoons of water, a tablespoon of sugar, a tablespoon of kochukaru (Korean chile powder), two tablespoons of toban djan (Chinese chile and black bean paste), a tablespoon of Szechuan peppercorns, two and a half teaspoons of salt, two sliced garlic cloves, one and a half ounces of dried red chiles, and half a cup of sliced shallots. The recipe calls for pre-packaged crispy fried shallots (the Asian equivalent of canned french fried onions), but my local market didn’t have any, forcing me to make my own.
I began by cooking the onions and a half teaspoon of the salt in two tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. After ten minutes, I lowered the heat to medium and turned the onions every five minutes.
While the onions cooked, I browned the pork in a tablespoon of oil over medium high heat for ten minutes, until it lost its pink color. After breaking the meat up as it cooked, I transferred it to a bowl where it rested as I prepared the sauce.
I warned up five tablespoons of oil in the pork pan over medium heat, added the dried chiles and stirred them for a minute, then added the garlic and cooked for an additional minute until fragrant. Off the heat I added the Szechuan peppercorns, kochukaru, and toban djan, stirring to combine.
I fried the shallots in a cup of oil and drained them on a paper plate.
By this time the onions were finally browned. I could have let them cook for another ten minutes, but I got impatient.
I added the onions, pork, water, soy, sugar, and remaining salt to the pan with the chiles and stirred to combine.
On to the last bit of prep: I drained the tofu, chopped two cups of Chinese broccoli, and cut eight long rice cakes into inch-long segments.
I added the broccoli to the sauce and cooked for about three minutes, until the greens were tender.
While the greens cooked, I whisked the tofu until it became liquid and creamy.
I also boiled the rice cakes for three minutes.
To assemble, I added the rice cakes to the sauce, followed by the tofu, then gave everything a few good stirs.
I plated in bowls, and topped with chopped scallions.
If you can imagine a head-on collision between ma po tofu and pasta with bolognese sauce, then you know exactly what this dish tasted like. The onions and pork provided the sweet component, complimented by the creaminess of the tofu, but the rest of the sauce brought on some serious heat. This dish showed up the rest of my family as lightweights when it come to aggressively spicy food. She Who Must Be Obeyed liked the dish, but couldn’t finish it; He Who Will Not Be Ignored took a cue from Man Vs. Food (in his eyes the perfect television show, and a glimpse of a future career in which he travels around the country eating chicken wings and hot dogs) and supplemented his meal with a glass of milk to cut the heat. If I make this again, I’ll have to cut the chile and peppercorn amounts by half.
I’m thinking about other uses for the sauce without the greens or rice cakes, perhaps pairing it with thick udon noodles.