Aw man, no fortune cookie? If you’re like me, you look forward to seeing what that tiny piece of paper hidden within the folds has to say; although usually filled with lame advice or some sort of silly generic message about luck, often times it will reveal something remotely inspiring or incidentally true…
|Don't hate on my Photoshop skills!|
Ever since I got my wok last year, stir-fries have been making a frequent appearance on the dinner menu. They are quick, satisfying, and unlike the implicit mystery gulped down with your last order from Wok and Roll, you know exactly what’s in it.
The smells of stir-frying always elicit memories of my Cuisines of Asia class at the Culinary Institute of America. The second I crack open the sesame oil and the toasty aroma jumps into my senses, I’m right back in that kitchen. Cuisines of Asia is one of the first cuisine classes that you go into after months of basic skills training. Every day I walked into that fully equipped kitchen complete with traditional steel woks, wok burners, and tandoor oven, I was venturing into exciting and intimidating foreign territory.
Absorbing so much culture and being introduced to so many new, different ingredients at once, was a challenge I often felt overwhelmed by. For pop quizzes and tests, we would have to be able to identify dozens of different soy sauces, Asian pastes, and oils laid out in paper cups by taste, color and smell alone. It’s not easy! And the chef was intense. You don’t even want to know about the day I burned the bottom of the rice and thought I could get away with serving it. Who knew that a few extra-toasty grains could make you feel so crappy about yourself? Basically, I was damned if I didn’t serve it and damned if I did. Lesson learned: you’re better off not serving anything than putting out something that’s not completely up to par.
In addition to teaching me quite a few similar lessons, Cuisines of Asia provided me with tons of useful knowledge that I still reference today. It also gave me one of the first kicks in the ass that I needed and the worst grades I ever received in culinary school, second only to Meat Identification and Fabrication. Meat and fish are the first two kitchens you ever step foot in at CIA. Seven days each, they wear down your crisp chef whites and brand new sharp knives real fast. My difficulty to successfully memorize and identify every single cut from every animal in a week was perhaps elevated by the horror film-factor of meats class. In a cold room with wet floors, the smell of death just lingers in the air. How can you not feel like a serial killer when there are full carcasses hanging in the fridge, and bloody bones and meat scraps sitting on band saws? I know, I’m so dramatic.
|Simple pork stir-fry over rice.|
Next, is the addition of vegetables. You can include whatever you have on hand. For this stir-fry, I used a colorful mix of peppers and crisp snow peas. When making a sauce for stir-fry I always make sure to include an element of every taste profile: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. And for a little bit of added crunch, cashews or peanuts are always a nice addition. I love my wok and highly recommend them for every household. If you don’t have one yet, you can of course use a large, deep sauté pan instead. Happy stir-frying!
Pork Stir Fry:
Yield: 4-6 Servings
- About 2 Tbs of olive or peanut oil
- 5 boneless center cut pork chops, diced into large cubes
- 1 tsp 5 spice powder
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbs ginger, minced
- 2 scallions, sliced
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 1 yellow pepper, sliced
- ½ cup snow peas
- ½ cup cashews
- ¼ cup light soy sauce
- 3 Tbs rice wine vinegar
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- ¼ cup chicken stock
- 3 Tbs light brown sugar
- ¼ cup slurry ( ½ cornstarch, ½ water whisked together)
• Mix all sauce ingredients in a bowl together, except for slurry.
• Mix pork with salt, pepper, and 5 spice powder. Heat 1 Tbs oil in wok or deep sauté pan and cook pork until almost done; set aside.
• Heat 1 Tbs oil in pan or wok. Add garlic, ginger, and scallions and cook for about a minute. Add peppers and cook through. When peppers are almost done cooking, add snow peas. Return pork to the pan. Add cashews and sauce; bring to a simmer. Slowly pour the slurry into the sauce, whisking as you go. Allow sauce to thicken slightly. Serve over rice or noodles.