Sweet, Sour and Hot… no, this is not a romantic novel review. Hitting all the right notes, this quick and easy stir-fry, packs in savoriness from fish sauce and garlic, sweetness from a little sugar and spicy heat from pepper flakes. Thin slices of ultra-tender pork contrast the crisp snap of green beans, preferably haricot verts.
We took it a step further and added a bunch of scallions, the white and light green parts were stir-fried with the green beans, and the dark green slices were added as a garnish along with the chopped cilantro. Next time we intend to toss in some red bell pepper strips too, which will add a nice pop of color along with extra nutrients.
In addition, we doubled the sauce, which at first we thought might have been too much. But in the end, it was the perfect amount to coat the pork and veggies. I made the adjustments in the list of ingredients below. Serve with steamed rice, and if you like, additional fish sauce at the table.
Caution, don’t stir the beans and pork too often. Stirring just once or twice during cooking allows them to char and develop flavor. Also, don’t forget to stir the sauce mixture just before adding it to the skillet, as the cornstarch settles to the bottom upon standing. In our opinion, we feel using a wok is a much better vehicle for getting a good char when stir-frying.
Stir-Fried Pork and Green Beans
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp.white sugar
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbsp. peanut oil, divided, plus more as needed
- 8 oz. green beans, cut on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces
- 1 bunch scallions, sliced thinly, white and light green parts divided from dark green
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, halved and cut into 1/4″ slices (optional)
- 1¼ pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼-inch slices
- 5 medium garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup lightly packed cilantro, chopped
- In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, vinegar, cornstarch, sugar, pepper flakes and ¼ cup water. Set aside.
- In a 12-inch skillet over high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until barely smoking. Swirl to coat the pan, then add the beans and scallion whites and light green slices. Cook, stirring once or twice, until charred, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- If you are using red bell pepper, stir-fry them next as you did the green beans. When slightly charred, add to same bowl as beans.
- In the same pan over medium-high, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until barely smoking. Swirl to coat the pan, then add the pork in an even layer. Cook, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Return the beans (and red pepper, if using) to the pan, add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Whisk the fish sauce mixture to recombine, then add to the pan and reduce to medium. Cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the sauce thickens slightly and clings to the meat, about 60 seconds. Off heat, stir in the cilantro. Garnish with scallion greens.
Adapted from a recipe from Courtney Hill for Milk Street