Crispy Pork with Baby Bok Choy

Crispy Pork with Baby Bok Choy Stir FryIt all started when I spied the prettiest baby bok choy in the produce department. It was so vibrant and crunchy and just called out for a dish to be prepared in dedication to its delectable-ness. Well okay then, a stir fry seemed in order.

I grabbed some pork, fixin’s for a sauce, and some other pretty produce and set about to make a meal. When I spoke to Charles about his thoughts for a wine to drink, he wanted to try a Barbera. An Italian varietal with an Asian meal might seem to be a rather bold choice, but the best part of wine pairing is the experimentation. The worst that can happen is that the pairing doesn’t work. The world won’t end. You won’t descend down a shame spiral. Have some water with the meal and save the wine to enjoy as a digestif while binge watching whatever current TV obsession you may be in the midst of. We learn from our choices. Sometimes they pay off. Sometimes they’re rather awful, but they’re always an adventure.

How did that bold Barbera option go with dinner? It may not have been a transcendent experience, but it actually paired pretty well. The wine complimented the pork, and nuances of flavor were brought out by the ginger and sweet chili sauce. The Barbera didn’t play along with the green beans in the dish, but all in all, I’d try it again. I might just tweak the recipe a tad — less vinegar, no beans, a little more soy sauce — in order to allow the wine to sing a bit more. My fall back wine that goes with everything, the Gazela Vinho Verde Rosé, would have worked with dinner, too. As would an amber ale. Don’t be afraid to try new things. It makes a meal more exciting.

Crispy Pork with Baby Bok Choy

Serves 4

1 lb pork loin, sliced thinly and at an angle
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
4 baby bok choy, coarsely chopped
1 cup green beans
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon coconut sugar
1 Tablespoon sweet chili sauce
chopped green onions for garnish

Heat a stove-top wok or deep sauté pan over high heat.Toss pork with sesame oil, salt, and pepper and put in pan. Let sit for two minutes. Flip pieces and let sit another two minutes. Stir to make sure everything is cooked and crispy. Remove from pan and set aside.
Place pan back over high heat. Add oil. Toss in bok choy and stir fry for two minutes then add green beans, garlic, and bell pepper and stir for an additional three minutes. Turn heat down to the lowest setting.
Add vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and chili sauce to a mason jar. Screw on the lid and shake until everything is completely mixed. Stir in the sauce and toss until the sauce is warmed.
Sprinkle the green onions on top and serve with rice.

Kelp Noodle Stir-fry

kelp noodle stir fryThere’s been a package of kelp noodles that we got as a sample quite some time ago that would stare at me sadly every time I opened the pantry door, wondering when I was going to get around to using it. Though I liked the idea behind the noodles, and I enjoy seaweed of many different sorts, it was difficult to feel inspired when gazing at a package of gelatinous-looking noodles surrounded by a nebulous liquid.

Yesterday though, yesterday, I spied some Lo Mein on the deli’s hot bar at work, and man it looked and smelled so good, and I couldn’t have it! So I decided it was time, time to give those doleful noodles a purpose in being. Frankly, now I’m wondering why it took me so long. I really enjoyed them. They were crispy and fun to bite. While they tried to ball up together, a little separating with a fork brought them into line again, and they picked up the flavors of the sauce. Plus, they were that healthy thing I’m always striving for, so that was a bonus.

stir fry ingredientsKelp Noodle Stir-fry with Peanut Sauce

1 package kelp noodles
.6 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into 1-inch pieces
small yellow onion, chopped
red bell pepper, sliced thinly
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons + 1 Tablespoon gluten-free Thai peanut sauce
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
drizzle of gluten-free Tamari
drizzle of gluten-free Sriracha
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Heat up skillet on high heat. Add oil.
Drizzle 2 TB peanut sauce, Tamari, and Sriracha on chicken and mix until chicken is coated. Toss in peanuts then place in hot skillet. Once chicken has browned, add onion and bell pepper. Stir for about a minute then add the garlic. Turn down heat to medium.
While the skillet does its magic and turns raw into cooked, place kelp noodles in a colander and rinse in cold water, separating the glob into lovely strands of translucent noodles.
Once onions are soft, throw in noodles and 1 TB sauce, stirring until the noodles are coated and warmed enough to become more flexible. When they’re flexing like a ballerina on a barre, serve that concoction with a couple of napkins. Until you get the hang of it, eating those noodles is going to be messy.

The red bell peppers are a nice counterpoint to the heat created by the Sriracha and play nicely with the nuttiness of the sauce. And I’m sold on those noodles. I’m going to be picking up a couple more packages. They just won’t stick around long enough to stare glumly out at me from the pantry shelf. I’ve learned my lesson.

Citrus-y Tempeh

When the warm weather hits, stir-fry reigns supreme. It doesn’t overheat the house, it’s light on the palate and light in the belly.

While looking for ways to cook up a quick tempeh for dinner, I stumbled across 101 Cookbooks and read her wonderful description of Orange Pan-glazed Tempeh. I had to try it, and of course, I tweaked it a tad.

Her version called for maple syrup as a sweetener, but I found that created too much sweetness when coupled with the flavors of the tempeh and the wild rice with kale that I made for the dish’s foundation. The original also called for cilantro leaves to garnish the top. I’d recommend that. I didn’t end up doing it, as I chose to use the last bit from my garden inside the dish and didn’t have any left for garnish. (My cilantro has now bolted, which means it’s time to dig it up and plant some kale.)

Here’s my altered recipe:

1 cup orange juice (Since citrus isn’t in season, I used a high quality, pre-made juice)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons tamari
1 1/2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
3 garlic cloves, chopped
6 ounces of tempeh
1 tablespoon olive oil

Warm up a large skillet over medium heat.
Put the orange juice in a small bowl. Add the ginger, tamari, mirin, cilantro, and garlic. Mix together and set aside.
Cut the tempeh into small pieces.
Drizzle olive oil in skillet. Add the tempeh and sautee until golden. Pour the orange juice mixture into the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced to a thick glaze.  Stir once or twice while cooking to allow tempeh to absorb as much citrusy flavor as possible.
Serve the tempeh with the sauce.

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