Stir-Fry for dinner!

Sometimes dinner just needs to be quick, and for me, that means dinner is either take away or a stir fry.  Last night, it was stir-fry.  I found a yummy recipe on thekitchn.com and picked up the ingredients after meeting Mr. 416-expat for lunch.  I didn’t make many drastic changes so have just posted their recipe with my pondering points interspersed (with link and credits)

ingredients gathered

Pork Stir-Fry with Asparagus and Sugar Snap Peas
serves 4

1 small pork tenderloin (between 12-16 ounces)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sherry – I didn’t have this so left it out – not missed
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon corn starch
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 shallots, sliced thin – I didn’t have these, so used 1/2 a yellow onion –  no harm no foul
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 pound asparagus,trimmed and sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

First I sliced the pork tenderloin into 1/2″ medallions, then slices the medallions into 2-3 strips, keeping all slices approximately the same size (so they cook up at the same time).  The whole lot of them were then seasoned with S&P

Then I whisked together the soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and corn starch and left it sitting.  Next time I would do this while the pork is cooking.  When it came time (later not now) to add the sauce it had settled and needed re-whisking (is that a word?).

Then I added 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil in a large (14-inch) sauté pan over high heat. Add the pork and cook, stirring and turning strips once or twice, until edges begin to brown and they are just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Cooking pork tenderloin...I want it to brown nicely so I leave it alone (the hardest part)

This, for me, is the hardest part.  I want to move those pieces of pork around in the pan, check to see how they’re doing, generally, just muss about.  However, the more you do that, the less likely you are to get nicely browned meat. At a cooking class I took at Calphalon the chef very sternly told us that to properly brown meat, you have to put the meat in the pan and walk away, then, when you think you should check it, leave it alone, then when you can’t hardly bear it, check the meat.  Now, I don’t think he really meant walk away, but I have had better luck since letting the pan do all the hard work.

The second thing I learned, was to avoid over-crowding the pan. Over-crowding means the meat ends up steaming more than browning and searing.  Avoid over-crowding.

Look at that all that browning goodness

At this point in time my kitchen was getting smoked out (windows open, exhaust fan on, Mr. Expat entering the kitchen with fire extinguisher – just kidding about the last part, but he did wonder what was going on).  I think it’s safe to say you can lower the temp of your stove top a bit.  I’m still getting used to cooking with a fake gas stove top.  Not quite as responsive as my old kitchen gas stove.

Back to dinner, then I added the other tablespoon of sesame oil to the pan, and cooked the onions for until they were soft.  Then I added the garlic and ginger.   I added the asparagus,and then add the sugar snap peas cooking them until they were bright green.

asparagus...not yet bright green

I poured half of the water into the pan, and scraped the bottom of the pan to pick up browned bits (brown bits = flavour). I didn’t end up using the other half of the water, my pan had cooled down and wasn’t devouring any an dall available liquid anymore.

nearly done and apparently nearly falling off the stove

At this point I added the red pepper flakes, the sauce and the pork.  The sauce thickened (cornstarch is a thickener that must reach boiling in order to activate) and was all kinds of goodness.  We ate it with the last of the quinoa.

dinner

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