One of the most euphoric, exciting feelings a foodie can have is when you get a craving for a particular dish, and it turns out you have all the ingredients to make it. In this case it was Pork Noodle Soup.
Pork Noodle Soup is, quite simply, a dish from my youth; the one thing I would order at Chinese restaurants as a 10-year-old, several years before my young and inexperienced palate could handle more “complicated and adventurous” fare such as cashew chicken, chow mein, Mongolian beef, even pork fried rice.
The passion started at a Chinese restaurant called The Yin Yin in Livermore, CA. I was with my friend Loretta and her mother. Loretta’s mother ordered Pork Noodle Soup, and Loretta and I basically followed suit. What a delight it was to have this large bowl of noodles, studded with green onion, mushrooms, slices of succulent pork, and sliced boiled eggs set before me. Having always enjoyed boiled eggs, I had yet to have them in a soup.
So I wake up from my nap earlier this afternoon with my usual craving for carbs. As a traffic reporter who works a split shift, naps are not so much a luxury as a necessity. Still lying in bed, I think about how I am going to satisfy my carb craving. I begin to take mental inventory of what we have on hand: a variety of dried pastas, rice, leftover pork loin, eggs, chicken broth, garlic…and before I knew it I had that mental image of the delicious bowl of Pork Noodle Soup from Yin Yin over four decades ago.
Slight panic set in, however, as I perused recipe sites online, plus a large Chinese cookbook in my collection, only to come up with variations, but nothing titled Pork Noodle Soup. Really? How could a recipe for such a simple and common dish from my childhood, be so elusive?
Coming to my culinary senses, I realized that the basics for a chicken noodle soup wouldn’t be too far off. Chicken broth, check. Cornstarch, check. Garlic, mushrooms, chili oil, sesame oil, pork, eggs, noodles (choices being angel hair or linguine), green onions, check.
With angel hair being the noodle of choice, the whole Pork Noodle Soup process took about 20 minutes, with boiling water and eggs taking up the brunt of the task. At the end a slight drizzle of chili and sesame oils added an aromatic essence, and next thing I knew I was sitting down to a delicious, satisfying bowl of memories. Truthfully, aside from thinner noodles, it didn’t look or taste too differently from the Pork Noodles of yesteryear.
Now, back for the afternoon shift, I have told at least 7 people about my soup. I feel warm and fuzzy just talking about it. It’s kind of like all the planets lining up, when you have the hunger, aspiration, the memories, and all the ingredients to take that special trip back in time.