Stir-fries are a great way to put all the elements of a healthy meal into one dish. You do not even need a recipe or a wok, just a colorful combination of vegetables and tofu, or another protein, and a large, heavy frying pan.
In Asia, the home of stir-frying, the whole point of these quickly-cooked dishes is to provide intense flavors while cooking quickly, thus saving on expensive cooking fuel. And, as rice is the main part of an Asian meal, a stir-fry is a topping-like garnish whose juices can soak into, and flavor, the rice. Stir-fries are also served with noodles made of wheat, rice, or mung beans.
When it comes to the accompanying starch, Moo Shoo Pork is in an entirely different category. Traditionally, the stir-fry is wrapped inside thin, delicate pancakes. The pancakes, which are difficult and time-consuming for most Westerners to prepare, are made with white rather than whole-grain flour. But, since a stir-fry is a stir-fry whether it’s wrapped or not, there is no reason why a home-cooked Moo Shoo pork can’t be served with noodles or rice. And brown rice is a great option, providing the extra health benefits of a whole grain, but taking no longer to cook than white rice.
Critically important for stir-fries is cutting the ingredients to the right shape and in even sizes. This takes a little time, but is well worth it. You will appreciate the difference in the harmony of textures and flavors, compared to irregularly-cut ingredients that sometimes turn out either over- or under-cooked. (The small amount of chopping needed is actually quite therapeutic after a hectic and stressful day.) Also important is to first cook the ingredients that take the most cooking time, adding those that become tender quickly toward the end.
Pork and Mushroom Stir-Fry - Makes 5 cups or 5 servings.
4 dried black or shitake mushrooms
3-6 ribs bok choy
1 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. grated or minced ginger
2 Tbsp. peanut oil
1 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic, or more, according to taste
1/2 (8-oz.) can sliced bamboo shoots, drained
10-12 oz. lean pork cut very thin
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1/4 cup chopped scallions, (white and green)
3 cups cooked brown jasmine or basmati rice
In a small bowl, cover the mushrooms with hot tap water and soak until soft, 20-30 minutes. Squeeze the mushrooms dry. Reserve 2 Tbsp. of their soaking water. Remove and discard stems. Cut the mushrooms into very thin strips and set aside.
Cut green tops of bok choy into thin strips. Cut the white stalks into 2-inch lengths, then into thin strips. There should be about 1 cup greens and 2 cups of the white part.
Combine the reserved mushroom liquid with the soy sauce in a small bowl. Stir in the vinegar, cornstarch, sugar and ginger. Set the sauce aside.
In a wok, heat the oil over high heat until very hot. Stir-fry the bok choy, then add the garlic, mushrooms and bamboo shoots. Stir-fry 30 seconds. Add the meat and stir fry until the meat looks white. Add the sauce. When it starts to thicken, add the bean sprouts. Season with ground pepper, if desired. When the meat is cooked through, spoon the stir-fry over the rice on a serving platter. Top with the scallions and serve.
Per serving: 383 calories, 10 g. total fat (2 g. saturated fat), 58 g. carbohydrate, 19 g. protein, 7 g. dietary fiber, 151 mg. sodium.
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