Pork loves sweet, snappy counterparts—think pulled pork and cole slaw, or pork chops with sautéed apples. Maybe that's why pork and beans are such a classic Chinese combination. In this version, I use sliced marinated pork loin stir-fried very quickly with some blanched green beans, all flavored with ginger, garlic, and a simple marinade. It comes together in just about the same time that it takes to steam a batch of rice, making this a perfect weeknight meal.
There are a couple keys to this recipe. The simple marinade of salt, sugar, white pepper, wine, soy sauce, and oil helps bring out the pork's sweet meatiness, while a touch of cornstarch provides a thin coating of insulation so that you can gently brown the pork without overcooking it.
Almost every Chinese recipe involving string or long beans involves par-cooking them. This allows them to tenderize and sets their color, so that when you actually get to the stir-fry step, all you need to do is heat them and coat them with aromatic oil.
Sometimes, that par-cooking involves deep frying. In this case, I'm going with a simple blanching in salted water. I cook my beans directly in the wok, eliminating the need to clean two pots.
After a minute in boiling water, the beans should be bright green and still tender-crisp. A quick run under cool running water will help them stay that way.
Another key to flavorful stir-fries? Infusing your cooking oil. By heating up a small knob of ginger in the oil until browned, then discarding it, your oil ends up with a sweet, gingery flavor that coats the entire dish.
Before your marinated pork goes into the wok, make sure that it is ripping, smoking hot. The pork is sliced relatively thin, so it needs the highest heat possible to help it brown and sear without overcooking or becoming dry.
I remove the pork from the wok just shy of completely cooked—it'll finish cooking when we toss it with the green beans before serving.
Because home burners are not nearly as powerful as those you'd find in a Chinese restaurant, cooking in batches and allowing the pan to reheat between them is essential. Once the pork is done, I heat the wok until it starts smoking again before adding the blanched beans.
As soon as they're heated through and seasoned with the gingery oil, I return the pork to the wok along with some minced garlic.
Just a few more tosses, and dinner is served.
About the Author: I was born in Guangzhou, the birthplace of dim sum, and raised in the Chinatown neighborhood of Philadelphia. As a sibling-less child, cooking was a way to cure after school snack attacks and a way to keep myself entertain. That's how my love for food and cooking started, and it continues to grow. I blog at friedwontons4u.com and I am on twitter @friedwontons4u.