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Spicy-Sweet Sambal Pork Noodles

These weeknight noodles are inspired by the silky richness of meaty tomato sauce and the fiery, tangy-sweet flavors of pad kee mao (a.k.a. drunken noodles). It’s full-on explosive flavor in under an hour.

INGREDIENTS

 

  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 lb. ground pork, divided
  • 1 2″ piece fresh ginger, peeled, cut into thin matchsticks or finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 sprigs basil, plus more for serving
  • ⅓ cup hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1½ lb. fresh ramen noodles or 16 oz. dried spaghetti
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

RECIPE PREPARATION

  • Heat oil in a large wide heavy pot over medium-high. Add half of pork to pot, breaking apart into 6–8 large chunks with a wooden spoon. Cook, undisturbed, until well browned underneath, about 5 minutes. Turn pieces and continue to cook, turning occasionally, until pork is browned on 2–3 sides, about 5 minutes longer. Add ginger, garlic, sugar, and remaining pork to pot and cook, breaking up pork into small clumps, until meat is nearly cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Add tomato paste and 2 basil sprigs. Cook, stirring occasionally, until paste darkens, about 2 minutes. Add chili paste, soy sauce, vinegar, and 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened and flavors have melded, 30–45 minutes.

  • Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute short of al dente. Add to pot with sauce along with butter and a splash of pasta cooking liquid. Simmer, tossing occasionally, until sauce begins to cling to noodles, about 1 minute. Pluck out basil sprigs.

  • Divide noodles among plates. Top with torn basil.

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