Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sweet-and-Sour Pork Stir-Fry...

We have done a couple sneak peeks into our pantry before, but we haven't gotten to the spices yet and we've been asked a few times how we store them. I found this handy door-style rack at one of those stores that deal in storage and knew immediately I had to have it to contain our spices.

We installed it on the back of the door that leads to the walk-in pantry - this keeps them out of direct sunlight and more importantly, close to where I prep and away from heat sources (the stove, refrigerator, microwave and heating vents!). I buy spices from all over, but get quite a few of them from either Penzey's or in bulk from a local natural foods co-op. I do often buy more than will fit in one of those fantastic clear glass jars, so I do keep the extra stashed in air-tight bags in the freezer to extend their lifespan.

Moving on.... for tonight's dinner, Sweet-and-Sour Pork Stir-Fry, I got a pot of water going on the stove before I started prepping so we could do our no-fuss method of cooking brown rice.

While that was working, I cooked thinly sliced pork tenderloin until one side was browned, without turning the slices. This takes just a short minute, then the slices are scooped out of the skillet and set aside on a plate. Since the pork is so lean and it is thinly sliced, it really cooks in a flash!

Scallion whites and a duo of orange and red bell peppers were slid into the hot skillet after the pork was out and stirred around until the vegetables were just about crisp-tender. Try not to let them get too soft at this point as they will still be in the pan for a few more minutes and you want them to retain a bite. The pork is added back into the pan, along with broccoli florets and chunky pieces of pineapple. Be sure to pour any juices that leaked out from the pork on the plate when you add them - also, if you want the broccoli to be a little more tender by the time you are done, feel free to use thawed, frozen pieces or just lightly steam them first.

A homemade sauce for this stir-fry is then added, which is a combination of bright pineapple juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch and a bit of water to thin it out. Bringing those liquids to a quick simmer will thicken the slick sauce and allow it to cling well to the pork and veggies. We both enjoyed the contrast between the sweet pineapple juice, the salty soy and the tang in the vinegar - served over the tender grains of nutty brown rice, this dish was also pretty filling and colorful! For next time, I would think about adding a few other elements into the dish to give it a rounded flavor - a couple cloves of garlic, a few grates from a knob of ginger and maybe adding another step: I thought it might be worth taking the time to caramelize the pineapple chunks a bit before tossing them in, intensifying their sweetness and giving them more of a contrast to the rest of the dish.



  1. Joe,

    Why do they say only brown on one side? I don't get that?

    Thanks. Looks good -- I've only cooked pork a few times, not sure why I don't buy it more often.


  2. Anon - Because the pork is thin and you don't want to over cook it. Browning it on just one side allows you to get some rich caramelization without overdoing it.

  3. What a great spice rack - I'm jealous! The pork looks delicious.

  4. That's a pretty impressive spice stash!

  5. Hey Joe - nice rack!! ;-)

    Seriously - that IS a nice rack! I've got a couple two-tier lazy Susan's in our pantry, but of course that's never enough, so there's overflow of spices on a SMALL rack like yours (four tiny shelves) on the wall inside the pantry, plus more in a tub off to the side.

    Why do we have these spice variety addictions!?

    The pork stir fry looks great!

  6. Love your Spice Rack Joe!

  7. Kerstin - Thanks!

    Quinn - We Try!

    Jeph - I know... it really needs to get under control!

    Ana - Thanks!