Stir-frying is the name of the game when you want something quick and healthy. And making it yourself ensures you know exactly what’s in it, as compared to many Asian take-out places loaded with unwanted fat and calories. Cook’s Illustrated found that marinating pork tenderloin in a simple soy-sherry mixture and cooking it quickly (about two minutes) in batches over high heat kept the meat tender and beautifully seasoned. In place of the sherry, we substituted Shaoxing wine which is fermented from rice.
Because different vegetables cook at different rates, batch-cook the vegetables and add aromatics (like ginger and garlic) at the end so they are cooked long enough to develop their flavors but not long enough to burn. Chicken broth gives the sauce some backbone, and cornstarch slightly thickens it so that it lightly cloaks the meat and veggies.
We increased the amount of pork tenderloin from the original 12 ounces to one pound. And because of that, we doubled the soy sauce and sherry that gets mixed with the pork strips (which is all noted below). Keep in mind that pork tenderloin is easier to slice if it is partially frozen. *Freeze the tenderloin until firm but not frozen solid, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Then cut the tenderloin crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Cut the slices into 1/4-inch strips.
Stir-frying isn’t rocket science, and that’s what’s so great about it. It doesn’t require lots of fancy equipment. Instructions indicate to cook in a skillet, however we feel most stir-fries benefit from being cooked in a flat-bottomed wok. It helps to have a stir-fry spatula which fits the contour of the wok and has a long handle (to keep distance from the intense heat).
Stir frying is advantageous over other methods of cooking as it requires very little oil, which is healthier than deep frying or pan frying, and it also retains the nutrients present in the food being stir fried. As the name indicates, the food is constantly stirred while you cook it. Make sure to use an oil with a high smoke point such as peanut, canola, safflower, soybean, etc.
Stir-Fried Pork, Green Beans and Red Bell Pepper with Gingery Oyster Sauce
2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated (about 2 tablespoons)
3 Tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil
12 oz. green beans, cut on bias into 2-inch lengths
1 large red bell pepper (about 8 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch squares
3 medium scallions, sliced thin on bias
Jasmine rice, cooked according to package directions (or brown rice if you prefer)
Combine pork, soy sauce, and 1 Tbsp. + 1 teaspoon sherry in small bowl. Whisk remaining 1 tablespoon sherry, chicken broth, oyster sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, white pepper, and cornstarch in measuring cup.
Combine garlic, ginger and 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil in small bowl.
Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until smoking; add half of pork to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up clumps, until well-browned, about 2 minutes.
Transfer pork to medium bowl. Repeat with additional 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil and remaining pork.
Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to now-empty skillet; add green beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown and tender-crisp, about 5 minutes; transfer to bowl with pork.
Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to skillet; add bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until spotty brown, about 2 minutes.
Clear center of skillet, then add garlic/ginger mixture to clearing; cook, mashing mixture with spoon, until fragrant, about 45 seconds, then stir mixture into peppers.
Add pork and green beans; toss to combine. Whisk sauce to recombine, then add to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and evenly distributed, about 30 seconds.
Transfer to serving platter; sprinkle with scallions and serve over hot jasmine rice.
Spicy Grilled Pork with Fennel, Cumin and Red Onion, just the name gets my juices flowing. Imbued with spices that char at high heat, this aromatic pork recipe is a snap to throw together — exactly what you want for a night of summer grilling.
If using wooden skewers, don’t forget to soak them in water for an hour before grilling, so they don’t flare up. And, NYTimes where we got the recipe, suggested if you’re broiling and you don’t want to bother with skewers at all, just spread the pork cubes out on a rimmed sheet pan, turning them halfway through cooking with tongs or a spatula. Always good to have a Plan B for inclement weather.
Our side dish of Smashed Cucumber Salad with Peanuts, Scallions and Cilantro was just the ticket to compliment the pork and make for a low-carb dinner. The lime and heat in both recipes ensured a unity of tastes. I see making this by itself as a lunch, and would be great to bring to a picnic, potluck or dinner invitation.
While I basically stuck to the pork kebab recipe, I made a few changes in how I handled the cuke salad from Milk Street. Besides cutting the recipe in half, I left the salted cucumber slices in the colander for an hour as opposed to 15 minutes to make sure most of the moisture would be removed. And instead of several cans on the inside plate while draining the slices, I added weight by filling a smaller heavy bowl with water.
A meat mallet came in handy for both smashing the cucumbers and the roasted peanuts, but you may have another preference.
Spicy Grilled Pork with Fennel, Cumin and Red Onion
¼ cup cilantro or basil, leaves and tender stems, plus more for serving
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 jalapeño or other green chile, seeded if desired
1 tsp. honey
1 ½ tablespoons fennel seeds
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 small red onion, sliced, for serving
Season pork lightly with kosher salt and put it in a bowl or resealable bag.
Juice the lime into a blender or food processor and add cilantro, fish sauce, garlic, jalapeño and honey. Blend until the jalapeño and garlic are puréed, then add fennel, cumin, coriander seeds and pulse four or five times to bruise the spices and mix them in.
Pour mixture over the pork, tossing to coat the pieces. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes while you heat the grill, or up to 24 hours. (We marinated for 24 hours to make sure all of that great flavor permeated the pork.)
When ready to cook, heat the grill or broiler with a rack positioned 4 inches from the heat source.
Thread the pork onto skewers, leaving a little space between cubes. Grill over the highest heat possible, or broil on high, for 2 to 5 minutes, then flip the skewers and continue cooking until the meat is browned all over and charred in spots. It should be just cooked through: A little pink is OK, but there shouldn’t be any red spots.
Serve the pork with cilantro sprigs and onion slices on top, and lime wedges on the side for squeezing.
Don’t use regular cucumbers; they contain a large amount of seeds that will quickly water down the salad, even if first salted to remove excess moisture. And don’t forget to peel the cucumbers. The skins will block the salt from drawing out the maximum amount liquid of from the watery flesh.
2 Medium garlic cloves, finely grated
2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
4 Tbsp. lime juice
1½ tsp. sriracha
½ tsp. white sugar
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3 English cucumbers, trimmed and peeled
½ Cup roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped
4 Scallions, thinly sliced
1 Serrano chili, stemmed, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
½ Cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, finely chopped
In a small bowl, stir together the garlic, ginger, lime juice, Sriracha, sugar and ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside. Place the cucumbers on a cutting board. With the flat side of a chef’s knife or a rolling pin, hit the cucumbers until they split and crack. I used a meat mallet which worked great!
Slice the cucumbers ½-inch thick on the diagonal and transfer to a large colander set over a large bowl. Add 2 teaspoons salt and toss. Top with a plate smaller than the diameter of the colander; weigh down the plate with 2 or 3 cans. Let stand until liquid has pooled in the bowl, about 15 minutes. Discard the liquid, then rinse and dry the bowl.
In the same large bowl, combine the cucumbers, peanuts, scallions, chili and cilantro. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
I first posted a blog on this Grilled Veal Rib Chops with Mediterranean Herb Paste recipe 5 years ago. Back then, we only had veal loin chops, but now we got to revisit with actual rib chops. We loved it the first time, and cemented the love affair with this reiteration.
All of the herbs were just picked from our organic, raised-bed garden giving us the freshest taste possible. In fact, since the past winter was mild, most of our herbs returned, and with aplomb. Just look at those stunning sage leaves. Now that’s a WOW factor—we hated to chop them!
And how about a side of grilled tomato skewers? Pretty darn simple and a wonderful pairing with the chops. Remove the top core, slice them in half lengthwise, and thread them onto metal skewers alternating with a fresh bay leaf* on the cut side. Brush with EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
When you move the veal chops over to the cool side of the grill for 10 minutes, place the tomato skewers on the hot side, turning once half way through. They’ll take about 8-10 minutes total to get a nice char. Carefully remove them from the hot metal into a bowl and drizzle on a bit more EVOO. Six roma tomatoes (and 12 bay leaves) makes enough for 3-4 servings.
*Speaking of those bay leaves, it’s best to get fresh ones. If all you can get your hands on are dried, soak them in water for about 10-15 minutes so that they become pliable and won’t crack as you thread them on the skewers.
Grilled Tomato Skewers
As I mentioned, we were in Heaven over this meal! And the bonus was getting to gnaw the bone 😉
Grilled Veal Rib Chops with Mediterranean Herb Paste
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (1 tablespoon)
1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley leaves
2 tsp. minced fresh sage leaves
2 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
2 tsp. minced fresh oregano leaves
1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
If you don’t have all the herbs, feel free to add additional amounts of what you do have to compensate.
Preheat grill with all burners turned to high and lid down until very hot, about 15 minutes. Use grill brush to scrape cooking grate clean. Leave one burner on high and turn other burner(s) down to medium.
Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper to taste.
Mix oil, garlic, and herbs together in small bowl; rub herb paste over chops.
Grill chops, covered, over hotter part of grill until browned, about 2 minutes on each side. (If chops start to flame, slide them to cooler part of grill for moment and/or extinguish flames with squirt bottle.) Move chops to cooler part of grill. Continue grilling, turning once, until meat is still rosy pink at center and instant-read thermometer inserted through side of chop and away from bone registers 130 degrees, 10 to 11 minutes.
Remove chops from grill and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with lemon wedges.