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Stir-fry warm up for China trip!

May 5, 2010

I hope this finds you at the end of a great meal!

I am so excited to head off to China next week to dive into some authentic Chinese kitchens to do some cooking! My love of the “sweet heat” flavor profile has always had me dabbling in Chinese cooking. I find Chinese cooking so intriguing because it is the ultimate balancing act between sweet, sour, salty, spicy and umami! Although many of the ingredients are “processed” such as soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, etc they are always combined in balance with the freshest produce and meat to create the most mouth-warming comfort food you can find. Everyone is familiar with the concept of stir-frying. What intrigues me about it is that you must execute all of the basic cooking techniques properly combined with the right timing to yield a perfect dish. I will do my best to bring this process to life as I describe for you my dinner last night- Black pepper, ginger and garlic stir fry with calamari, pork, and bok choy.

I marinated the calamari and pork (boneless pork rib cut into small pieces) separately in a mixture of black pepper, ginger, garlic (lots of each), cornstarch and egg white. The cornstarch and egg white coat the meat and fish to create an incredible seal that locks in the moisture and keeps the meat tender while creating a silky coating on the outside that absorbs the sauce. I got my wok super hot with a TB of peanut oil. I added the bok choy and tossed for a minute to give it a touch of color and wilt it but keep the crunch. Out with the bok choy and in with the calamari. The calamari only takes a minute to cook. Tossing quickly and reaching in to taste a ring at intervals I pulled it out just as it became firm but still incredibly tender.

Out with the calamari to join the bok choy and in with the morsels of pork. The pan remained so hot at all times it was only the quick addition of more food that kept the smoke from erupting. That is the heat you want. The pork took a minute and a half. I let it sit for a moment on the bottom of the wok to pick up a quick sear and then tossed it frequently for even cooking. I pushed the pork to the sides of the pan and hit the center with some soy sauce and chicken stock. Just enough to clean the pan and create and instant reduction and a luscious sauce as the liquid absorbed the cornstarch laced pan bits. I added some pre-cooked egg noodles, the cooked calamari and bok choy and a small handful of rough chopped parsley. I tossed it all for just a few moments until the noodles absorbed the sauce and blanketed the pork and calamari.

The kids loved it, Nadia (my beautiful bride) loved it, and the plate was clean. I loved the way the three types of natural heat played so well together. You got a sting of black pepper heat that married elegantly with the mustard-like root heat of the ginger and the aromatic, mouth-warming heat of the garlic. The soy sauce was not a prominent flavor but acted as that umami element to elevate the flavor of the entire dish.

I look forward to brining you some tasty recipes and techniques in a few weeks when I return from China!! If you haven’t tried stir-frying lately break out the wok and give it a shot. You will be pleasantly surprised. Enjoy!

Eat well, Enjoy life, Be happy

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