I know I speak about my grandmothers a lot here, and quite honestly I forget what I’ve said and what I haven’t said (and am entirely too lazy to go back and look). But this recipe is another one courtesy of my mom’s mother, Grace. And it serves as Cuizoo Arsenal meal #6.
Grace is an interesting woman. Her father was an Irish Linen importer who valued education tremendously. Her mother was very musical and played the organ at Christmas time in the big department stores in New York City. Grace went to college at a time when women rarely did; she was a nutrition major and did research on the benefits of breast milk in the 1930s; she traveled to China and Hong Kong with my uncle when he was traveling as an ethnomusicology professor; she painted (art, not walls); she played the piano; and she was a great writer and poet (all of which she still did up until just a few years ago when arthritis finally crippled her hands). And of course, like many of us, she did this while raising three wonderful kids and keeping a home. So, it’s not often (in the US, at least) when your best stir fry or spring roll recipe comes from your 97 year old grandmother. But I’m lucky like that.
And this stir fry technique is my absolute favorite. You cook marinated meat, remove it, and then steam the vegetables in a Sherry/Ginger/Garlic mixture, and add it all back together to make a deliciously fragrant sauce. Unfortunately, take-out Chinese will be forever ruined for you once you taste it. And it is the perfect arsenal meal because it uses a small amount of meat (or none at all, if you like) and a lot of vegetables, it is flexible — virtually any veggies or meat that you have will work, it is cheap, and you can easily have it cooked in 30 minutes.
Typical stir fry vegetables all work — think broccoli, peppers, onions, snow peas, green beans, bok choy, carrots, etc. But don’t be afraid to add in others — edamame, mushrooms, corn, cabbage, and radishes all work too. The protein can be pork, chicken, tofu, shrimp, steak, or simply a nice handful of nuts or pumpkin seeds on top. The key is the marinating liquid and the steaming liquid. They make the dish. Feel free to serve over brown rice if you have time or white rice if you are rushed. (Or no rice at all, which is what I just had for lunch.)
Gingered Pork Stir Fry
3/4 pound of pork tenderloin (or other cuts, or other proteins)
2 T, plus 1 T cornstarch
1/2 cup, plus 1/3 cup Sherry
1/3 cup soy sauce, plus extra for flavoring
2 inch piece of fresh ginger
4 large cloves of garlic
1 red pepper
1 large carrot
1 medium onion
1 small head of baby bok choy
1 1/2 cups of green or yellow beans (*I used frozen and thawed yellow beans from our summer CSA and they were great)
3 green onions
1/2 cup of water or broth
Salt and pepper
1. Slice pork tenderloin into thin strips. In a medium bowl, make the marinade by combining 2 T cornstarch, 1/3 cup Sherry, and 1/3 cup soy sauce. Add pork to marinade, mix well, and set aside. (If you are serving this with rice, start it now.)
2. Chop ginger and garlic finely and place in a small bowl. Add 1/2 cup of sherry to that and set aside.
3. Prepare vegetables by coring and slicing the red pepper, peeling and slicing the carrot, peeling and slicing the onion, chopping the bok choy into ribbons, stemming and chopping the green or yellow beans into bite sized pieces, and finely chopping the green onion.
4. Mix 1/2 cup of water or broth with 1 T cornstarch and set aside.
5. Heat wok or large saute pan over medium high heat and add about two or three tablespoons of mild flavored oil (light olive oil or vegetable oil). Add meat, draining most of the marinade off as you add it to the pan, and cook for 3-5 minutes until almost done. (It may stick a bit, but that’s OK. Just try to let it get a good sear and stir fry, scraping up the bits as you go.) Remove meat from pan and set aside.
6. Add a bit more oil to the pan and add denser vegetables — in this case, carrots, onions, and green or yellow beans. Stir fry for 3-5 minutes. Add peppers and the entire bowl of Sherry/Ginger/Garlic. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan and cover and let steam for about 3 or 4 more minutes.
7. Remove lid and add the cooked pork or meat, the bok choy, green onions, and the water/broth and cornstarch mixture. (Make sure you give the cornstarch mixture another stir before adding it b/c the cornstarch will have settled to the bottom). Stir well to combine and cook for about 2 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and thickened. Add soy sauce (and hot sauce if you like it spicy) and salt and pepper to taste and serve over steamed rice.