Why It Works
- A simple marinade with salt, soy sauce, wine, sugar, oil, and cornstarch helps the meat stay tender, juicy, and flavorful, with improved browning characteristics.
- Blanching the beans in advance and stir-frying in batches helps maximize heat and flavor in the wok.
Pork loves sweet, snappy counterparts—think pulled pork and coleslaw, or pork chops with sautéed apples. Maybe that's why pork and green 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.
1/2 pound pork loin, sliced into strips less than 1/4-inch thick
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon plus 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
12 ounces string beans, ends trimmed
One (1/4-inch) slice of fresh ginger
4 medium cloves garlic, finely minced (about 4 teaspoons)
Steamed white rice for serving
Place pork in a large bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, sugar, ground white pepper, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon oil, and cornstarch. Mix well and transfer to refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil in a wok over high heat. Add string beans and cook for 1 minute. Remove strained beans to a colander and rinse under cold running water until cooled. Allow excess water to drain while pork marinates. Dry wok with paper towels.
When ready to cook, heat 2 tablespoons oil in the wok over high heat until smoking. Add ginger. Cook for 30 seconds and then remove and discard ginger. Add pork and spread it out in a single layer. Cook without moving until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Continue to cook, stirring, until almost cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Heat remaining tablespoon oil over high heat until smoking. Shake off any excess water from string beans and add them to wok. Season lightly with salt and cook, stirring, until tender, about 1 minute.
Return pork to wok and add minced garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a serving platter immediately and serve with white rice.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 2 to 3|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 21g||26%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||14%|
|Total Carbohydrate 26g||9%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||15%|
|Total Sugars 5g|
|Vitamin C 12mg||61%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|