Of the dishes that I crave in an almost manic way, pawing the walls like a crackhead needing a fix, wonton noodle soup is always on the top of the list. In college, it was brimming bowls of Cantonese Wonton Soup from Ollie’s Noodle Shop in NYC. The broth studded with crisp shallots and baby spinach featured the most lovely shrimp and pork wontons – I willingly braved the lines and the brusque service just to get my weekly fix. It was hard for me to imagine a wonton soup better than it, but once I tried the Roast Pork Wonton Noodle Soup at China Fun (also in NYC), I fell head over heels in love. Blubbery udon noodles, tender slices of barbecued pork and spinach and scallions swimming around in a steaming bowl of broth. And those wontons. God, I have dreams about them – I felt a Robert Rodriguez-style need to march right into the kitchen and shoot the cook as the rest of the world didn’t deserve to eat anything so damn good.
Thank the lord that when I left the city, I found a way to save myself from the full-on withdrawal from my beloved wonton soup. In the past, I had roasted pork and purchased frozen gyoza to throw together a quick soup on days that were too cold and icy to brave the winter chill. These standby soups were glorious in that I could stay in my pajamas and still tuck into a bowl of majesty. I’m especially smitten with this recipe out here in Arizona where a good bowl of Cantonese noodle soup can prove tricky. Why deny myself the joy?
One of the loveliest parts of this recipe is that it’s flexible. Go completely DIY and make your own stock, make fresh wontons and roast the pork yourself. Or play it lazy and purchase frozen wontons or gyoza, use some leftover roast pork from chinese takeout and infuse chicken stock with ginger and garlic. It should be how you like it whenever you need it. Just like your crack addiction.
Roast Pork Udon Noodle Soup
1 package of chinese bbq seasoning mix
4 boneless pork ribs
1 tbs of sesame oil
1 qt. of chicken broth
1 inch of peeled ginger root
1 clove of garlic, smashed
splash of soy
splash of sesame oil
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 handful of fresh spinach leaves
1 package of fresh udon noodles
6-8 frozen potstickers (or homemade wontons)
If you aren’t using pre-made roasted pork, begin by blending the chinese barbecue seasoning mix with 1/3 c. of water. Whisk in the sesame oil and toss with the pork ribs. Allow to marinate for at least an hour, if not overnight. Place the ribs on a rack set above a cookie sheet. Bake in the oven on 450° for 12 minutes, flip and cook for another 12 minutes. Let rest while you prep your soup.
Heat your chicken stock with the peeled ginger, garlic, soy and sesame oil. Add your potstickers to the boiling broth and cook according to the package directions. Three minutes before the potstickers are finished cooking, add the udon noodles.
To serve the soup, place a handful of spinach leaves and a bit of scallion in the bottom of a large bowl. Slice the roast pork into thin pieces and add a few to the bowl. Ladle some broth, udon and potstickers into the bowl to quickly cook the spinach. Serve immediately.