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Low sodium bean thread noodles with ground pork and Thai basil

Updated: Jul 1, 2021

This is a really long name for a pretty simple dish that I make whenever I have a lot of fresh Thai Basil. You can swap the pork for any minced meat, flaky fish, crumbled tofu or eggs, or just chopped vegetables.

Servings: 4

Sodium: 75 mg per serving Time: 45 minutes, plus a few hours for the noodles to soak


4 ounces bean thread noodles

4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 tablespoon salt free tomato paste

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar (light brown or white is fine, too)

1 pound ground pork (20% fat works best)

1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced

1 medium Fresno or jalapeño pepper, chopped or sliced (optional)

1/2 cup water

2 cups whole Thai Basil leaves

Lemon or lime juice, or balsamic vinegar for serving

A note on ingredients:

4 ounces of bean thread noodles is about two small bricks (this is how they're often sold). See notes, below, for using a different kind of noodle. Bionaturae makes my favorite salt-free tomato paste. You can substitute the sweet onion for bell peppers or any other vegetable you like really. Cabbage would be good, too. Peppers are optional but highly recommended. I like to use pork that is 20% fat but a leaner cut is fine too, you may need to add some extra oil when cooking.

1) Soak the noodles in room temperature water until very soft all the way through. These noodles will be soft after just 30 minutes but I like to soak them for 4-5 hours and cook them really fast. With a short soak time they're soft on the outside but still firm in the center. Remove noodles and discard the soaking water. The noodles are long, so after soaking I like to cut through them once or twice with scissors.

2) Make the sauce: combine 1/4 cup soy sauce substitute, 4 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon salt free tomato paste, and 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar and set aside.

If you don't have the soy sauce substitute handy, you can use any soy sauce alternative that you use (like coconut aminos, Worcestershire sauce, low sodium tamari, etc.). You won't be using 1/4 cup of any of these, so increase the water by about 2 tablespoons when you add the noodles. Alternatively, use the sauce recipe from my other stir fried pork and basil recipe.

The next few steps happen pretty fast and you're cooking on high heat most of the time, so have all your ingredients ready to go. Set out a small bowl to hold the cooked onions, measure out 1/2 cup of water and leave it close by with the sauce.

3) In a hot wok or skillet, sauté the onions on high heat for 2-3 minutes and set aside in a small bowl. I like the onions to still be a little bit firm. These will go back in the pan later but I cook them separately so they can stay firm.

4) Cook the pork and peppers: If you are using 20% fat pork, you shouldn't need to add any oil to your pan. Let the pan cool and add the pork and peppers to the cold or cool pan, then let the pork heat up with the pan. The fat will render out slowly and you can then turn up the heat and cook the rest of the pork in that fat. Otherwise, add a little oil to your pan and cook the pork and peppers. Cook on high heat until it is a little bit crispy.

5) With the heat on high, add the noodles, sauce, and 1/2 cup water and stir to incorporate the sauce. Careful adding the water because you're adding water to a very hot pan with oil in it. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the noodles have absorbed all the sauce/water. If the sauce/water has been absorbed and you find the noodles are still too tough, add a little more water (2 tablespoons at a time) and let the noodles absorb the additional water. Turn off the heat and add the cooked onions and fresh basil leaves and stir to incorporate. The basil leaves will wilt from the heat of the noodles.

6) Serve hot with a side of lime juice, lemon juice, or balsamic vinegar to taste. The citrus/vinegar complements the noodles really well and really brings out the flavor.


-If you don't have bean thread noodles or want to use something else like rice or wheat noodles, I have this recipe for just pork with Thai Basil that can be served over any kind of noodle or rice.

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