Pork ragu is a classic Chinese dish. When I saw it in Lucky Peach’s Asian recipes cookbook, I knew I had to try it. The recipe is quite good, but there may have been one sichuan peppercorn too many, and so there was a licorice-y flavor that kind of pervaded through the noodles. I would maybe reduce the recipe to half as many peppercorns, but other than that I loved it.
Still though, I thought about how the recipe would taste if I substituted textured vegetable protein (TVP) in for the pork. I personally feel that minced meat really doesn’t have much flavor anyways, and so if the texture of TVP matched that of ground meat, which it actually does, then I’m pretty much set. Just make sure the sauce turns out well and I’ll have myself an amazing bowl of spicy “pork” noodles.
A word of caution regarding the Sichuan peppercorns is if you are buying them whole, it is probably wise to use a sieve to make sure you are not getting any big bits into your sauce. The texture of the husks are very gritty and sandy, so best to get just the fine grinds.