an oddly soothing stirfry

menu planning

While doing some serious browsing through our cookbook collection one day, we found a recipe in the latest Alford/Duguid book, Beyond the Great Wall, that sounded both easy and exciting. It was a simple pork stirfry, seasoned with shallot and ginger, but with the addition of a good handful of pickled mustard greens. It just so happens that I recently bought a jar of these on spec, so I was very excited to try this.

stirfry mise en place

As it turned out, the mustard greens I had were not quite what was called for – I had bought pickles with hot pepper and peanuts, but the recipe wanted plain sour greens. Oh well – I rinsed them off, picked out the peanuts (which were kind of weird and squishy) and used them anyway. Everything else we did by the book. It was very straightforward and fast, and made the house smell great. We cooked up some white rice, made some oolong tea and sat down with anticipation.

pork stirfry

The finished stirfry was very tasty. However…it wasn’t at all the pungent, highly flavored dish we had worked ourselves up for. Instead, it was a soothing bowl of savory pork, lightly flavored with ginger and with the slightest hint of spice. The mustard greens only added the tiniest bit of sour, and a subtle texture somewhat like overcooked celery. The overall effect was of something that I might like to eat when I was feeling a bit under the weather. Good – but not what I was going for.

What do you think, wrong type of pickled mustard greens? Or was it supposed to be like that? I would definitely make this again, especially if I was running low on veg in the house – the pickled greens make a really handy staple – but I might perk it up a bit more with added seasonings.

Pork with Pickled Mustard Greens

adapted from Beyond the Great Wall by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

  • 1/2 pound boneless pork loin, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp oil or lard
  • 2 Tbsp minced shallot
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 3 dried red chiles
  • 1/4 pound pickled mustard greens, rinsed and chopped (and the peanuts picked out)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 scallions, smashed and cut into 2 inch lengths
  • 1 tsp soy sauce

Heat oil in a wok over medium heat (not high heat). Add the shallot, chiles and ginger and saute for a minute. Add the pork and salt, turn up the heat to high and stirfry until the pork is mostly cooked. Add the mustard greens and stirfry two minutes. Add the scallion and stirfry 30 more seconds. Add the soy sauce, stir in and remove from the heat.

Serve with white rice and tea. Serves two.

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