Pork with smoked red pepper

We’re in the depths of winter now and, predictably, the weather has been terrible. That’s a problem because I’ve really been wanting to grill. But I wasn’t going to stand outdoors in the sleet and wind, so I made this easy pork stir-fry instead. It turned out really well, with the ground, smoked red chiles lending a bit of an outdoor flavor. The whole thing looked and tasted kind of like a nice grilled char siu, without the red food coloring.

Pork with ground, smoked chiles

Pork with ground, smoked chiles

Start with pork loin, sliced into thin bite-sized pieces.

Pork loin, sliced into bite-sized pieces

Pork loin, sliced into bite-sized pieces

Marinate the pork in rice wine, soy sauce, and potato flour. The soy sauce will give the pork a golden color.

Pork, resting in the marinade

Pork, resting in the marinade

The other main ingredients are spicy bean paste (辣豆瓣酱,  là dòubànjiàng) and the smoked ground chiles. For this last item, you want mild red chiles that have been smoked and then ground into a powder. Many things would work, such as smoked Chinese red chili powder, ground Xinjiang red peppers, smoked paprika, or just regular Western smoked chili powder. The spiciness in this dish comes from the bean paste, not the powdered chiles, so make sure the powder is mild. The ground chiles are more for flavor than for heat.

INGREDIENTS and PREP:

  1. 1 lb pork loin, sliced into bite-sized pieces about 1.5″ long, 1″ wide, and 1/2″ thick; marinated for about 30 minutes in a mixture of 1 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, and 1 Tbsp potato flour
  2. 1 generous Tbsp  spicy bean paste (辣豆瓣酱,  là dòubànjiàng)
  3. 2 tsp smoked ground red pepper, 2 tsp dark soy sauce, 1/4 cup stock or water; all stirred together
  4. Cilantro and 2 tsp roasted sesame seeds for presentation and garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  • Pour peanut oil in your wok to make a pool about 1″ deep. Heat the oil until quite hot but not smoking, perhaps about 350°F. Add the pork (#1) and fry for about a minute or two, stirring gently. It should be cooked through and starting to turn golden around the edges. Remove the pork with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels or in a colander. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp oil from the wok.
  • Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp oil until barely smoking, then add the spicy bean paste (#2) and fry briefly. Add the pork back to the wok. Turn down the heat to medium and stir everything together.
  • Add the ground red pepper, soy sauce, and stock (#3). Stir until everything is hot and the sauce has thickened a bit.
  • Serve on a bed of coarsely chopped cilantro; garnish with roasted sesame seeds (#4).

VARIATIONS: For a sweeter sauce, you could add some sugar, honey, or plum sauce to the stock (#3). For a spicier dish, use a ground chili powder with more heat.

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