Of the many reasons I married Neil, his affinity for good Asian food is definitely near the top. He can replicate and healthify nearly every one of my favorites, whether it be stir fries or sushi, spring rolls and even Asian-inspired wings! Last night he made an incredible Kung Pao Pork that left our kitchen smelling just like a restaurant. I don’t know how he does it, but I can’t get enough and am constantly looking for more dishes to make at home, which not only is healthier than take-out but saves us money during this holiday season and throughout the rest of the year.
This Kung Pao Pork is light on the sauce, easy on the corn starch and filled with crisp fresh vegetables that are chock full of vitamins to boost your energy and immune system, which let’s be honest is more than a little needed when it gets dark at before 5 and everyone around you is getting sick.
1 pound boneless pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch pieces (you can also use chicken or tempeh)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 sweet pepper, any color, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cups cabbage, roughly chopped
1 cup bok choy, chopped
2 teaspoons light sesame oil or 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons green onions, chopped with tops
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4-1 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (to your preference)
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (or powdered if you prefer)
1 teaspoon chinese 5 spice
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
4 cups cooked rice, hot
1. Cook rice according to instructions.
2. Combine pork and cornstarch in small bowl and toss to coat. Heat oil in large non-stick skillet or wok on medium heat. Add coated pork and stir fry for 5-7 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. Remove from heat.
3. Add onions, sweet pepper, cabbage, bok choy, carrots, garlic, red pepper flakes, five spice and ginger to skillet. Stir fry 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
4. Combine red wine vinegar, soy sauce and sugar in small bowl and stir well. Add to skillet. Stir until pork and vegetables are well coated, then add peanuts. Heat thoroughly for an additional 1-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Let’s face it, Neil’s favorite flavor is HOT!
5. Serve over hot rice with additional red pepper flakes or sriracha sauce if you prefer.
You can interchange any variety of vegetables in place of the ones we used for this. I’ve grown fond of the textural interplay of carrots, bok choy and sweet peppers, plus they were inexpensive with the Thanksgiving Holiday putting other vegetables at a premium. So inexpensive in fact that we were able to make three nights of food (two different recipes using the same ingredients –stay tuned for our Veggie Wonton Soup!) for less than $30, which is a feat if you like a lot of fresh ingredients in your meals.
If you don’t already have sesame oil and Chinese five-spice in your pantry, I highly recommend having them as regular staples, as they are key to many of the dishes we make. You can buy the five-spice already made, or you can make your own fairly easily. It’s amazing how less daunting cooking is once you find and understand key staple ingredients that make each dish what it is!