Fresh Food Thursday | Sesame Pork

I am so excited for today’s Fresh Food Thursday! Tyler and I LOVE take out Chinese food, but about 6 months ago, we were packing on those good ol’ lbs and decided we had to change the way we eat. So now, instead of ordering a ton of greasy, deep fried Chinese food, we make our own rice, stir fry, and egg rolls, then we simply order our favorite side dishes (won ton soup and steamed dumplings, anyone?!?)

At the same time as our little change, we mentioned to a friend that our wok was ruined by a leak in an apartment, and we needed a new one. Well, she “happened” to have an extra real, legit wok (our ruined one was Americanized and not real), already seasoned and in need of a good home. Since no one needs more than 1 wok, she graciously gave us one! (Thanks, Jess!!)

So, let me explain what little I know about woks and stir-fry food. But before I do, I’ll say that I’m new at this! I love the Chinese culture, the food, and the cooking style, but it’s a brand new world to me! My knowledge is really limited, but I’m (slowly) learning. If I say something that’s completely wrong, please let me know so I can correct my thinking; and if you know something that would help me and others, please post it! We’re all learning here, so feel free to share your knowledge.

Ok. The wok. A legit wok has a round bottom; the Americanized ones have a flat bottom, but here’s why the round is better. So, see that stabilizer sitting below the wok? Flipped one way, it touches the coils of an electric stove top. Flipped the other way, it gets blazing hot from the flames of a gas stove. Either way, the top of it heats the wok from higher up, while the wok’s bottom is heated by the stove, thus maintaining a consistent HOT heat all the way around. This is vital to wok cooking; it provides more surface area to cook on. With flat bottom pieces, the bottom gets hot and the higher up you go, the cooler it gets. Get it?

There’s also a wooden, square pot holder with a hole in the middle (not pictured) for the wok to sit on when it isn’t on the heat. That simply keeps it from rolling around. The wooden sticks are supposed to be used for turning items while deep frying with the wok (which I’ve never done), but I used them to stir and flip pieces of food while stir-frying. They work amazingly well, but sometimes standard wooden utensils are better for the task. Someday, I hope to invest in actual accessories for Asian cooking. Until then, what I have works just fine.

So, the reasoning behind wok cooking / stir-frying is to quickly and evenly heat meats and vegetables over HIGH heat to cook them thoroughly while maintaining their crispness and nutrients. Steaming veggies is fine, but it often cooks the nutrients out of them. Stir-frying seals all the good stuff in.

Let me also clarify that stir-frying shouldn’t make your food greasy! It should taste fresh and healthy. But you do use oil, not olive or veggie oil, though. You need a high-heat oil that won’t burn or smoke easily. There are a ton of options to you can use, and most recipes tell you which kind goes with what you’re making, but the biggest thing is an oil’s “smoke point.” Consistently, I use this stir-fry oil, since diversifying oils can get super expensive. I’m willing to forgo certain flavors and just use something that won’t burn my food.

One last thing to note is that everything cooks quickly. Because of this, it’s recommended to prep all of the ingredients first, then physically line them up in the order that you add them to the wok. Usually, the items that take longer to cook go in first, cook for a minute or two, then the next items … until everything is in and cooked. Your recipe should tell what goes in when.

Ok! Onto the recipe!

Sesame Pork
from The Essential Wok Cookbook

2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp teriyaki sauce
2 tsp cornflour (I used all-purpose flour, which was perfect)
1/4 cup peanut oil (I used the stir-fry oil)
1 1/4 lbs pork loin filet, thinly sliced across the grain
2 tsp sesame oil (again, or stir-fry oil)
8 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal (I used 1 large red onion)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 carrots, julienned
6 1/2 oz snake beans, sliced (I used fresh green beans)
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

1. To make the stir-fry sauce, combine the hoisin and teriyaki sauces, cornflour (all-purpose flour), and 1 tbsp water in a small bowl. Set aside until needed.
2. Heat wok to hot, add 1 tbsp peanut oil (stir-fry oil) and swirl. Add half the pork and stir-fry for 3 minutes, or until browned. Remove and repeat with remaining pork.
3. Heat remaining peanut oil and sesame oil in wok. Add onion, garlic, and ginger. Stir-fry for 1 minute.
4. Add carrots and beans and stir-fry for 3 minutes, or until almost cooked. Return the pork to the wok, add the stir-fry sauce and stir until sauce thickens and everything is combined, the meat is tender, and the vegetables are just cooked. Toss in the sesame seeds.

Serve with white rice and baked egg rolls, and enjoy!

Notice that I combined all the items that get tossed into the wok simultaneously, in the same bowls.


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