The minute Cook's Illustrated magazine arrived in our mailbox this week, we bookmarked 2 recipes to try. I find this a wonderful magazine. The testers have gone to all the trouble to take a recipe, try it several ways, and then present you with the perfect completed dish.
Sichuan Stir-Fried Pork in Garlic Sauce was such a recipe. One very strange step to me, was taking the slices of raw pork and soaking them in baking soda water to tenderize. It really was beautifully tender and reminded me of Chinese restaurant style dishes. But my curiosity has gotten the better of me, and I do think the next time I try this, I will forego the baking soda soaking just to see if there is a difference.
Though I did make a couple of substitutions in the sauce ingredients, I think it turned out very good. I have never been a fan of adding sugar to sauces or salad dressings, so I will eliminate the sugar addition to the sauce next time. I just don't care for it.
Sichuan Stir-Fried Pork in Garlic Sauce (yu xiang pork)
by Cook's Illustrated
serves 4 to 6
If Chinese black vinegar is unavailable, substitute 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar and 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar. If Asian broad-bean chili paste is unavailable, substitute 2 teaspoons of Asian chili-garlic paste of Sriracha sauce (use carefully). Serve with steamed rice.
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry (I used Vermouth)
2 teaspoons ketchup
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
12 ounces boneless country-style pork ribs, trimmed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cold water
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry (I used Vermouth)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 scallions, white part minced, green part sliced thin
2 tablespoons Asian broad-bean chili paste
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced thin
2 celery ribs, cut on bias into 1/4 inches slices
For the sauce: Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
For the pork: Cut pork into 2 inch lengths, then cut each length into 1/4 inch matchsticks. Combine pork with baking soda and water in bowl. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Rinse pork in cold water. Drain well and pat dry with paper towels. Whisk rice wine and cornstarch in bowl. Add pork and toss to coat.
For the stir-fry: Combine garlic, scallion whites, and chili paste in bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12 inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 2-4 minutes. Add celery and continue to cook until celery is tender-crisp, 2-4 minutes. ( At this point, I added the garlic, scallion whites and chili paste to the pan and stir fried for about 1 minutes. I felt adding it to the meat would burn the garlic.)Transfer vegetables to separate
Add remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to now empty skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add pork to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk sauce mixture to recombine and add to skillet. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring constantly until sauce has thickened and pork is cooked thoroughly. Return vegetables to skillet and toss to combine. Transfer to serving platter and sprinkle with scallion greens.
I was very fortunate in the 70's, as a young wife and mother, to live in a town in Michigan, where I was able to learn Chinese cooking in a class taught by an American woman married to a man from China. I also lived next door to a woman from Korea who taught me several dishes including fantastic egg rolls and kim-chee. After all these years, I still go back to these recipes. I think most important of all, they taught me the technique of Oriental cooking. I treasure those days of learning to cook in this delicious style. Thank you Lynda and Lee. I remember you both well.
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