This dish makes no pretense at authenticity; it's purely a product of necessity, but as so often happens, constraints make it rather good. Another Cupboard Challenge pushed the boundaries of my cooking repertoire, with shrimp paste, scallions, rice noodles, and ginger all needing to be used up. This time I actually took a lot of advice from the commenters, since I have limited experience with shrimp paste.
This has a funky sweetness up front from ginger and the shrimp paste, then a slow aftershock of heat from toasted chilies. It has the fullness of sweet, sour, hot and spicy, and in that it reminded me a bit of the Thai pork salad laab. I'll be honest: this dish is not for everyone. The shrimp gives it a pungency that I enjoy but might put some off. Probably about half this amount could be used.
Spicy Shrimp and Pork Noodles
2 tablespoons dried shrimp paste
10 dried chilies
2 shallots, chopped
1 big chunk ginger, peeled and chopped - about 1/3 cup
1 teaspoon sugar
3 limes, juiced
1 pound ground pork
4-6 ounces rice flake noodles
1 bunch scallions, green tops removed and white bulbs chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Wrap the shrimp paste in a small piece of foil and flatten it into a square. Toast directly on an electric burner heated to medium, or over a gas flame, until slightly smoky and fragrant. Turn on the vent! This smell will permeate your house. Set it aside to cool.
In a heavy skillet heat the chilies, then add a little oil and fry the shallots, ginger, and shrimp paste until soft. Add the the sugar and 1 tablespoon of lime juice and grind together in a mortar and pestle or small food processor until it's a soft paste.
In a large pan, heat some oil over medium heat. Fry the spice paste for a minute or so until fragrant. Add the pork and fry until cooked through. Meanwhile, heat a kettle of water to boiling and pour the water over the rice flake noodles in a bowl. Let them sit for about 6-7 minutes or until soft, then drain, rinse with cool water, then drain again. Toss with a drizzle of oil.
When the pork is cooked, add the scallions and fry for a couple minutes. Add the noodles and fry until warmed through, then add the rest of the lime juice and soy sauce and cook until hot. Taste and adjust seasonings with soy sauce or sugar if necessary.