Small-town Connecticut in the late 1960s was no place to launch a culinary revolution, but there I was, refusing to eat the food my mother made for me.
My parents were perplexed: After all, weren't they providing the finest cuts of meat they could find? But that was the problem. Big slabs of meat served unadorned had lost their charm. I wanted something racier and exotic. I wanted cool food, and Chinese food was my ticket.
With the nearest takeout joint nearly 25 miles away and no wheels to speak of, I had to learn to cook Chinese on my own. This was no easy task. My local grocer sold mushrooms packed in cans and kept the soy sauce on a small dust-covered shelf reserved for such exotics as truffle paste and snail shells. But I kept at it.
This simple stir-fry is one of the first dishes I ever cooked. It's fast and versatile. I use pork here, but chicken, beef, shrimp and lamb could be substituted.
Frozen pot sticker dumplings are a snap to prepare, but feel free to opt for takeout from a Chinese restaurant.
Pork and Peppers Stir-Fry
Preparation time: 30 minutes; cooking time: about 12 minutes
Makes 4 servings
1/2 pound boneless pork loin or chops, trimmed, cut into strips
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more if needed
3 green onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 piece (1-inch long) ginger root, minced
1 tablespoon chili sauce
1 each: yellow bell pepper, red bell pepper, cored, seeded, sliced into narrow strips
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1/4 pound pea pods, ends trimmed
white rice for serving
Marinate pork in soy sauce. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and chili sauce to pan; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the pork; cook, stirring, until the meat is fully cooked, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pork mixture from pan.
Add more oil to the pan if necessary. Stir in peppers and mushrooms; cook 2 minutes, tossing to coat the vegetables in oil. Add pea pods; cook, tossing occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.
Return the pork mixture to the pan; reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring, until all ingredients are warm, about 1 minute. Serve over rice.
Per serving (without rice): 204 calories; 11 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 33 milligrams cholesterol; 12 grams carbohydrate; 15 grams protein; 658 milligrams sodium; 3 grams fiber
- Recipe and analysis from the Chicago Tribune, a Tribune Publishing newspaper
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