Last Week’s Dinner: Stir-Fry Pork and String Beans

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Remember yesterday’s entry about how good it is to be home? Yeah, I’d like to amend that. After five days of having others (read: restaurants and banquet facilities) cook for me, I was faced with the harsh reality of, well, reality upon coming home. It turns out that I would be back on duty in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook. If I didn’t, this blog would be even more boring than it is. But, getting back into the grind is tougher for some than others.

We busted out the grill this weekend, which wasn’t really cooking so much as it was celebrating the onset of spring after a particularly (or perceptually) long winter. Burgers and hot dogs, Saturday and Sunday evenings’ meals respectively, are easy. Getting dinner on the table in an hour is more of a challenge.

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So, I eased into the week, put Meatless Monday off for a day and attacked the green beans sitting on my counter. For this stir-fry, I would highly suggest a wok. I know, it’s a crazy concept, but hear me out. It’s a lot easier to use than a skillet or Dutch oven, my choice of weaponry. I use a wok once or twice a year, so owning one of my own seems silly. My parents’ hand-me-down red enamel 1980s edition wok finally shorted out a year or two ago, so I have been left to regular stovetop cookware in place of this staple in Chinese cooking.

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WHAT WORKED: Rice vinegar. The original calls for Shaoxing wine, which I opted not to purchase for two reasons: 1) I had never heard of it to this point and doubted that I would use it again, and 2) I only needed 1/2 tsp. I couldn’t justify whatever the cost would be, assuming Wegmans carries it.

WHAT DIDN’T: The green beans. Now, I realize that I’m not getting farm fresh here in the Northeast, but the $1.99/lb. fresh green beans looked like they may have lined the train tracks, not come across the country on them.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: No idea. This was cooked well before I was stomach bugging last week.

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Very likely. It’s a great quick and easy, one-pan dinner.

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Stir-Fry Pork and String Beans
Adapted from Serious Eats

  • 8 oz. pork loin, sliced into 1/4-inch strips
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. rice wine
  • 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. plus 3 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. corn starch
  • 12 oz. string beans
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, finely minced

Mix pork, a healthy pinch of salt, sugar, white pepper, rice wine, soy sauce, the teaspoon of oil, and corn starch in a large bowl. Set aside.

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Bring a quart of water to boil in a wok or Dutch oven over high heat while trimming the ends from the green beans. Add salt to the water when it boils, followed by the beans. Blanch the beans for 90 seconds, cooking them in the water then draining them and rinsing with cold water to stop cooking. Dry the pan with paper towels and return to the stovetop.

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Heat 2 tbsp. of oil over high heat until it smokes. Add the pork, distributing it into one even layer. Let it brown 1 minute before stirring, cooking the meat until it is brown on all sides and almost cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Transfer to a different bowl and let stand.

Add the remaining oil to the pan. When it smokes, add the beans to pan. Season with salt and cook about 1 minute, or until crisp-tender. Return the pork to the pan and toss to combine. Cook until the pork becomes fragrant. Transfer to a bowl and serve with rice.

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