Don’t you love a good stir-fry? Years ago I had this big wok with wooden handles, well seasoned, in spite of a housemate’s attempt one day to scour off all of the pan’s beautiful black seasoning I had worked so hard to create. I don’t know what eventually became of that wok; these days I’m loving my friend Jaden’s non-stick enamel cast iron wok. It does a great job with high heat, it’s stick-free and I don’t have to worry about it rusting. The good thing about stir-fries is that you don’t need a lot of fancy ingredients to have a perfectly presentable dish. All you need is a pan and a cooking oil that can take high heat. Woks work well for this, as do large pans of cast iron or hard anodized aluminum.
The following stir-fried pork recipe couldn’t be easier. All you need is lean pork, some green onions, and garlic. You marinate thin strips of pork first in a mixture of soy sauce, a little sugar, and corn starch. The corn starch marinade is a useful trick to help keep the pork from drying out when it gets cooked on that high heat. The sugar is just enough to create some caramelization for added flavor. Consider this recipe a base for experimentation, though it is satisfying enough, unadorned. You could easily add some chile to the hot oil, or ginger, red bell pepper, mushrooms, or water chestnuts to the pork. Sprinkle on some fresh cilantro or toasted sesame seeds for a garnish too if you would like. The base recipe is adapted from one in The Cultural Revolution Cookbook by Sasha Gong and Scott Seligman.
You can substitute the green onions with Chinese chives (much thicker than regular chives), if available. If you want to spice this up a bit, add some chile pepper flakes to the hot oil with the garlic, and/or add some minced fresh ginger with the pork.
- 1 pound pork loin or boneless pork chops
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- 4 Tbsp peanut oil or other high smoke point oil (canola, rice bran, or grape seed)
- 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 8-12 scallions/green onions, sliced diagonally into 1 to 2-inch pieces, green and white parts included
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
1 Pork chops tend to come in thicknesses either around 1/2 inch thick or an inch thick. If you are working with a thick boneless pork chop, start by slicing it into two thin layers, horizontally. If starting with pork loin, cut slices 1/2 inch thick. Put the slices under some plastic wrap or wax paper and pound them thin with a rubber mallet, meat mallet or even an empty wine bottle. This will help tenderize the meat. The slices should be about 1/4 inch thick. Cut the pork against the grain into thin strips, about 1 1/2 inches long.
2 Put the soy sauce, sugar, and corn starch into a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the pork strips to the bowl with the marinade and toss to coat completely. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.
3 Heat the peanut oil in a wok or large sauté pan on high heat. When the oil is hot (shimmering but not smoking) add the garlic slices and stir-fry until they begin to turn brown at the edges, about 30 seconds. Add the pork strips and stir-fry until the pork changes color, about 90 seconds, stirring constantly.
4 Add the sliced green onions and continue to stir-fry for another minute, or until the green onions wilt. Turn off the heat and stir in the sesame oil, if using.
Serve immediately. Serve alone, or with rice.
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