Having worked on this tofu book for about a year and a half, I’ve found myself eating a mostly low-meat diet. For that reason, there are often bits of meat sitting in the fridge that I have to use up. This week, there was about 12 ounces of pork shoulder steak lingering. Looking for an easy, Chinese-y way to use it up, I made this stir-fry, based on a Hunan recipe from Fuschia Dunlop’s Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook. She described “Farmhouse Stir-Fried Pork with Green Peppers” (Nong Jia Chao Rou) as a popular peasant dish but I found that the flavors were fit for a king.
I had no sweet Italian peppers, as called for in the recipe, so I substituted tender Romano beans from the farmers’ market. A Fresno chile lent color and a tiny bit of heat. Balancing texture, color, and flavor is key to stir-frying just like it is with any cooking.
The most remarkable aspect of this stir-fry was the seasoning of the pork. With just a bit of light and dark soy sauce and Shaoxing rice wine, the pork took on a wonderful velvety, deeply savory quality. Rory remarked that it was bordering being lamblike. The key was using a fat (well marbled) piece of pork shoulder. You know I love grilled pork shoulder steaks. Next time you’re at a market buy an extra one for this stir-fry. We gobbled it up with rice.
I suppose that if you don’t want to eat pork, chicken thigh would be work as a substitute. Instead of the green beans, try Anaheim or Pasilla chiles, if you like. Lovely sweet Italian peppers should be coming into season in a few weeks. I typically get mine from Hmong farmers.
Stir-Fried Pork with Black Beans and Green Beans
Rinse the black beans if you want a milder hit of flavor. I typically don’t for hearty dishes. Fermented black beans are sold at Chinese markets.
Serves 4 with 2 or 3 other dishes
12 ounces boneless pork shoulder
2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
2 teaspoons light (regular) soy sauce
2 teaspoons dark (black) soy sauce
2 to 3 tablespoons canola oil
8 ounces tender green or Romano beans, trimmed and cut on a steep diagonal into 2-inch-long pieces
Water or stock
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 yellow onion, sliced
1 large moderately hot red chile, such as Fresno, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise
2 to 3 teaspoons fermented black beans
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water or stock
1.Cut the pork into thick matchsticks or thin slices. Regardless of shape, you want the meat to mix nicely with the green beans. Transfer to a bowl and add both kinds of soy sauces and rice wine. Combine well with your fingers or chopsticks. Set aside.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the green beans and sprinkle generously with salt. Stir-fry, splashing in water to cook the green beans until just barely tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the wok or skillet. Add the garlic, onion, chile, and black beans. Stir-fry for about 1 minute, until aromatic. Add the pork and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, until it has mostly changed color.
Dump the green beans back into the wok and stir-fry to combine and heat through. Taste and add salt, as needed.
4. Stir the cornstarch slurry and add to the wok. Work swiftly to thicken any juices and lend a light gloss to the dish. Transfer to a serving plate and enjoy with rice.
Chairman Mao’s Red Cooked Pork Belly (it’s a recipe from Hunan!, on Asian Dumpling Tips)