PORK AND LEEK STIR-FRY RECIPE
I’ve become fascinated with Chinese food. I’m not talking about restaurant food 0r take away, no, I’m interested in what people eat at home, how they cook. Given the size of the country the chances to learn are nearly endless. So for now, I’m living for my friend’s Yanping’s insightful cooking instructions. This pork and leek stir-fry came about mainly because I had a leek hanging about the house and I wanted to try one of Yanping’s recipes for a marinade.
Yanping has been talking to me about the different types of soy sauces and she has explained that brown soy sauce is broadly for marinades when light soy sauce is a finishing soy sauce, much like a sushi soy sauce. I can see a near future where I have a press full of different types of soy sauces, because these are the kinds of notions that go straight to my head.
Every single step in the marinating and cooking process have been carefully considered and are far from my usual slap and dash method of cooking. While if you cut corners in the marinade and cutting process you will still get a decent result, I fear you will miss out on the complexity of the flavours and the effect the ingredients have on the meat.
I first marinade the pork fillet as a whole. This means that only the outside of the meat (plus maybe half an inch) will get the flavour and the change of colour. Once you cut the meat, you will see a smoke ring around the outside layer. This a combination of the colour from the dark soy sauce and also of the cooking of the meat from the vinegar and chili sauce. The reason for cutting the meat in small slivers is two-fold. First by increasing the surface area of the meat, you get to coat more marinade onto it at the end. It also means the meat cooks quickly and therefore will remain tender and juicy. The difference in the level of marinade on different parts of the meat, brings a really complexity to the flavours of this dish.
Yanping also blew my tiny mind when she explained that if I found glutinous rice too heavy, I could take it down a notch by using sushi rice or by mixing rices. So at the moment, I’m mad for a combination of about 50% sushi rice and 50% thai jasmine rice. I find it a satisfying mix which is both light and a bit sticky.
I used chinese chives (because I had them but scallions are just fine) and sesame seeds as the garnish as I saw them used once and have zero imagination. They add a bit of texture and freshness and work very well.
Once the rice is cooking away, things happen fast, so I recommend that you have all your ingredients prepped and ready for cooking.
- One pork steak
- 3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
- 1 large finger of ginger
- 2 tablespoons of zhenjiang vinegar
- 3 large cloves of garlic
- 1/4 of a teaspoon of hot chili paste or sauce (this really needs to be to your taste)
- 2 garlic chives or scallions
- table spoon of sesame seeds
- 1 large leek
- 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
- In a bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce and add the grated garlic and ginger. Give it a good stir and add the pork steak. Make sure that all sides are coated evenly and turning it around a few times while it’s sitting there. You should let it marinade for about 2 to 3 hours. Once you are ready to start cooking, cook the meat in small slivers. These slivers should be cut in the length and therefore work with the natural grain of the meat.
- Set your rice to cook as per instructions and fire up your wok to get fierce hot. Cut your leek in half along the length and then in large slices. This will create a pleasing diamond shape. Give it a rinse and a drain. Add the oil to the wok, and when it starts smoking, add the leek and cook it while continually tossing it around with a wooden spoon so it melts but doesn’t catch or burn. Once it is starting to brown take it off the heat and reserve it.
- Bring the oil back to the smoking point and add the cut meat and marinade to the wok. Cook while continuously stirring for no more than 3 minutes. The size of the slivers and the high heat allow for this short cooking time ( do check one to make sure it is cooked through all the same). Bring the cooked leek to the wok and give a stir until everything is glossy with the sauce.
- Serve the rice, spoon the meat and leek and add the garnish.