“Chanukah Edition” is a bit of a misnomer. Matt and I are not currently celebrating Chanukah. We are being very bad Jews, as usual. However, we still happily receive our annual Chanukah presents from my mom, who makes sure that we both have a little something to open on all eight nights. I always loved Chanukah growing up. I practically held my breath, waiting for dad to come home from work. As soon as he arrived, we would light the menorah on the mantle in the living room. Dad and I sang the prayers, and mom sang her best approximation of Hebrew words and a tune. Then we would each open a present, before we let dad change out of his work clothes and start cooking dinner.
Matt never celebrated Chanukah as a kid. In fact, he didn’t celebrate any holidays at all (except birthdays, do those count?). My mother-in-law is a staunch atheist and any manner of religion was basically verboten in their household. However, every December the boys received “December presents.” I’m assuming this tradition began as an attempt to stave off the mutiny that would undoubtedly befall the parents of the only children at school who didn’t have a pile of gifts to open at the end of the month. But December presents weren’t enough for Matt. As a thirteen year old, he decided that he wanted a little bit of religion with his new toys and insisted on having a bar mitzvah. Studying with a rabbi, memorizing his Torah portion, the whole nine yards. Bet you didn’t know I married a rebel.
Since that ceremony, any attempt at practicing our Jewishness has basically fallen by the wayside. I haven’t seen the inside of a synagogue in years. So, when Matt told me that he was craving some spicy Asian food for dinner last week, I took it upon myself to ice our cake of Jewish failure with a healthy serving of treif. What better way to commemorate the first night of Chanukah than with heaping bowls of spicy pork? (Somewhere my mother-in-law is smiling.)
Spicy Pork and Rice Noodles
Folks, this is my own “recipe”, which more or less involved me throwing things into a pan arbitrarily, so please bare with me as I recreate the steps in an equally arbitrary fashion:
1 lb Thai rice stick noodles
3 Tbsp peanut oil (or enough to thinly coat pan)
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, white thinly sliced, greens in 1/2 inch pieces
1 small red chile, thinly sliced
1 tsp Thai red chile paste
1 lb boneless center cut pork loin chops, sliced crosswise into strips (do not remove fat!)
1 lb green beans, trimmed
8 0z shitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp black vinegar
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
Siracha (plentiful amounts for serving)
Cook noodles according to package instructions. Slightly underdone noodles are best. Toss with a little oil to prevent sticking together and set aside.
Heat oils in large saute pan or wok over high heat. When hot, but not smoking add garlic, shallot, scallions, and chile. Cook until aromatics soften slightly, about 2 minutes. Add chile paste, stir until evenly incorporated.
Add pork. Stir constantly until pork is cooked through, up to 5 minutes, depending on thickness of meat.
Add green beans and mushrooms, stir another 3 minutes until beans turn a brighter shade of green. Add the noodles, soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame seeds. Mix until well combined and green beans are just barely cooked through. Slather it all in siracha and eat. Repeat the final step to your heart’s content.