Tag Archives: stir-fry

Stir-Fried Pork and Green Beans

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

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, vinegar, cornstarch, sugar, pepper flakes and ¼ cup water. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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Adapted from a recipe from Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Indonesian-Style Ham Stir-fry Revisited

It was finally the last of our 8-pound ham which was earmarked to be used in this Indonesian-Style Ham Stir-fry recipe. Nearly seven years had passed since we resurrected it from when I first started this blog. Why did we wait so long? Who knows, but it’s not often that we have a large ham with plenty of leftovers.

Once we practically licked our plates clean, we decided the next time we make this we’ll double the sauce (we are saucy people!) And as with most stir-fries, make sure to prep all of the ingredients ahead of time because the actual on-hands cooking portion takes just minutes.

Spicy and sweet, this quick stir-fry dinner needed only short-grain sticky rice to complete it. In lieu of waiting to have leftover ham, you could always buy 1 1/2 pounds of ham steak and cube that up.

Indonesian-Style Ham Stir-fry

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbs. kecap manis*
  • 2 Tbs. plain rice vinegar
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. sambal oelek
  • 2 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 6 medium scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh lemongrass
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 1-1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 3/4 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces (2-1/2 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into medium dice
  • 3/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 1-1/2 lb. leftover ham, cut into medium dice (4 cups)
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth

*TIP: If you don’t have or can’t find keycap manis (and again we couldn’t), a syrupy Indonesian soy sauce, you can substitute 1-1/2 Tbs. soy sauce combined with 1-1/2 Tbs. unsulfured molasses.

Directions:

  1. Whisk the keycap manis (or your substitute), vinegar, and sambal oelek in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. Heat a 14-inch wok or heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until hot, then swirl in the oil. Add the scallions, lemongrass, ginger, and garlic and stir-fry until softened, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the green beans, bell pepper, and peanuts and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the ham and stir-fry until warmed through, about 2 minutes.
  5. Pour in the broth, scrape up any browned bits, and bring to a boil.
  6. Pour in the kecap manis mixture and stir-fry until bubbling and the ingredients are thoroughly coated in the sauce, about 2 minutes.
  7. Serve over hot rice.

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Recipe adapted from By Mark Scarbrough, Bruce Weinstein for Fine Cooking

Szechuan Pork Stew and Chinese Broccoli with Garlic

For those of you who favor bold Asian dishes, you’re going to want to put this recipe on your short list. It used to be that the only place to experience Szechuan cooking was China’s Sichuan province—a region located in the southwestern part of the country. But it is quite common just about everywhere now.

Though it is particularly unique in that Szechuan cooking is known for its dishes loaded with beef, rice, vegetables and, of course, Szechuan (or Sichuan) pepper. Although the main protein in this dish is pork.

Szechuan pepper is the trademark ingredient in Szechuan cuisine, however it doesn’t carry a lot of heat because it’s not even a pepper! Instead the regional spice is made from tiny peppercorns made from the dried husk of an ash shrub. These tiny pink peppercorns provide a kick of citrusy flavor that marries well with ingredients like ginger, soy and steamed veggies.

I didn’t notice until after I made and ate this fabulous dish, that I had completely forgotten to include the 1 tablespoon of sugar in the pork marinade. But we didn’t miss it at all, so if you have scaled back on sugar in your diet, then I would say it is OK to eliminate it here.

At the very end of the cooking process, we weren’t satisfied with how thin the liquid in the stew appeared. Russ made a last minute decision to make a slurry from corn starch and water to thicken the sauce. It only took another couple of minutes, and not only coated the meat nicely, it gave a more substantial appearance overall.

Szechuan Pork Stew with Chiles

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

For the Marinade:

  • 2 lb. pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. five-spice

For the Stew:

  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp. peanut oil, divided
  • 1 knob ginger (about 2 oz.), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 10 whole dried red chiles
  • 1 Tbsp. Szechuan peppercorns (about 1/4 oz.), cracked
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch with 1 Tbsp. water for slurry (optional)
  • 4 scallions (both white and green parts), thinly sliced

Directions

Make the Marinade:

  1. Toss the pork cubes with the soy sauce, wine, sesame oil, sugar, and five-spice powder. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour, or, cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours. (We marinaded for 8 hours.)

Make the Stew:

  1. Sprinkle the pork with the cornstarch and toss to coat.
  2. Heat a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil, and when it’s shimmering, add half of the pork in an even layer, Cook, undisturbed, until browned around the edges, and pork lifts easily with tongs, about 3 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium. Flip, and cook the other side until browned, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.
  5. Repeat the process with the remaining half of the pork.
  6. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, the ginger, garlic, szechuan peppers and chiles. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned, 2 minutes.
  7. Add the broth, soy sauce and oyster sauce, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
  8. Add the pork and any accumulated juices. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the pork is tender, about 1 hour.
  9. To make a thicker sauce, add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to 1 tablespoon of cold water and mix until smooth. Heat the pot until a simmering boil and add the slurry a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir together for 30 seconds.
  10. Serve immediately over steamed jasmine rice.

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Adapted from a recipe for Fine Cooking

Chinese Broccoli with Garlic

Chinese broccoli, also known as Chinese kale, is a leafy green vegetable closely related to thick-stemmed broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. It has flat leaves, thick stems, and tiny florets. It’s not easy to find Chinese broccoli in regular grocery stores, so check your local Asian market, which is more likely to carry it.

Chinese Broccoli with Garlic

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Chinese broccoli, trimmed and cut into small sections
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable cooking oil
  • 2 tsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil

Directions

  1. Trim Chinese broccoli, remove the hard skins and diagonally cut into 2″ sections. Separate the leaves and roughly chop.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then add salt. Add the stems, cooking for 20 seconds. Add the leaves and cook for 10 seconds more. (This helps remove some bitterness.) Drain into a colander.
  3. Add oil in preheated wok and stir-fry the garlic until slightly seared, about 1 minute. 
  4. Place Chinese broccoli into wok, add cooking wine and sesame oil. Stir-fry several seconds to mix well and serve immediately.

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Loosely adapted from a recipe found on chinasichuanfood.com

Kung Pao Chicken

In this Kung Pao Chicken recipe, the dark, rich sauce clings to the chicken and veggies, with just an undertone of heat and aromatic flavor from the chiles and Sichuan peppercorns. I’m typically a white meat fan, but here we used boneless, skinless dark thigh meat which imparts more flavor. Use whatever suits your preference.

Have you been confused before on the difference between Kung Pao and General Tso’s chicken recipes? The main difference between the two is how the meat is cooked. General Tso is fried in a crispy coating, however Kung Pao Chicken is seared in the wok. Both are coated in a similar sauce, but Kung Pao typically always has veggies and peanuts mixed in.

Plus, Kung Pao Chicken is a healthy choice for most people, containing a range of vitamins and minerals, as well as complete protein. It is also low in saturated fat and calories. To up the ante in nutrition, fiber and color, I added a yellow bell pepper and some snow peas.

Because of these extra ingredients, I altered the directions to accommodate them. Instead of adding the veggies with the chicken still in the wok, we moved the poultry to a bowl while we stir-fried the peppers and snow peas, then added the chicken back to the wok before stirring in the broth mixture.

As with most stir-fries, this process goes very quickly so make sure to prep everything BEFORE you start cooking. Keep in mind, rice typically takes about 20 minutes total, so it’s best you start that process first. And don’t omit those roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns. A half teaspoon may seem like a minor nuisance, but they add a necessary flavor component. Serve with steamed rice, preferably cooked in homemade chicken stock.

Kung Pao Chicken

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. minced ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2-1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. plus 1 Tbsp. Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. Chinkiang or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 4 to 8 dried red chili peppers, snipped on one end
  • 1/2 tsp. roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 6 0z. snow peas, strings removed, cut in half on a diagonal if large
  • 3/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup minced scallions
  • Steamed white or brown rice for serving
Add the peanuts and scallions.

Directions

  1. Before you begin prepping the stir-fry ingredients, start the rice according to package directions, preferably using homemade chicken stock as the liquid.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the chicken, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of the rice wine, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1 teaspoon cold water. Stir to combine. In a small bowl combine the broth, vinegar, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, and the remaining 1 tablespoon rice wine.
  3. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil, add the chillies and ground Sichuan peppercorns, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 15 seconds or until the chillies just begin to smoke.
  4. Push the chili mixture to the sides of the wok, carefully add the chicken, and spread it evenly in one layer in the wok. Cook undisturbed 1 minute, letting the chicken begin to sear. Then stir-fry 1 minute or until the chicken is lightly browned but not cooked through. Move to a bowl.
  5. Swirl the remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil into the wok. Add the bell peppers and snow peas then stir-fry 1-2 minutes or until the peppers begin to soften. Add the chicken back to the wok. Swirl the broth mixture into the wok and stir-fry 1 minute or until the chicken is just cooked through.
  6. Add the peanuts and scallions, sprinkle on the remaining 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and stir-fry 30 seconds or until the scallions are bright green.
  7. Serve over white or brown steamed rice.

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Stir-Fried Pork, Green Beans and Red Bell Pepper with Gingery Oyster Sauce

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

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. pork tenderloin, prepared as noted above*
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. dry sherry, or Shaoxing wine
  • 1 Tbsp. dry sherry, or Shaoxing wine
  • ⅓ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 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)

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. Combine garlic, ginger and 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil in small bowl.
  3. 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.
  4. Transfer pork to medium bowl. Repeat with additional 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil and remaining pork.
  5. 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.
  6. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to skillet; add bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until spotty brown, about 2 minutes.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Transfer to serving platter; sprinkle with scallions and serve over hot jasmine rice.

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Adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated