A simple but fiery pork stir fry with tongue-tingling Sichuan peppercorns and bright fresh herbs to balance it out.
I’m obsessed with cookbooks. There, I said it. A lot of people wonder, why buy a cookbook when you find almost any recipe you want online or even watch a video for it? And while that may be true, there’s just something really appealing about thumbing through a cook book with amazing pictures that gets me every time. I am a little weird though, cos I don’t often follow or cook the recipes from the cookbooks. I simply like reading them, looking at the pictures and using them for inspiration. Every once in a while I come across a recipe that looks and sounds so enticing that I may give it a try….but even then…I have a hard time sticking to it and almost always end up giving it my own twist.
This recipe for example is inspired by Melissa Clark’s Crispy Salt & Pepper Pork from her book DINNER: CHANGING THE GAME (which is a great cookbook by the way! I highly recommend it for the diverse dinner dishes she presents with flavors that expand across different parts of the world). I tested this recipe sticking to the original for the most part (which is a really hard feat for me!). While it was good, it didn’t quite hit the mark for me personally. I felt like it needed more flavor and just highlighting the camphor like taste of Sichuan peppercorns, wasn’t enough. So I added a few touches like star anise, garlic, green onions, sesame oil and a touch of acid with some rice vinegar to round out more Chinese flavors in the dish. I loved and kept the bright fresh soft herbs like thai basil, mint, cilantro and chives to tame the mouth-numbing flavors of the Sichuan peppercorns in the original recipe, but served it with some cooling Smashed Cucumber Salad (see recipe here) and Jasmine rice instead of just lettuce and cucumbers (for a paleo/ whole30 version substitute the Jasmine rice for cauliflower rice). And voila!…I had my own version of Sichuan Salt and Pepper Pork Stir Fry.
Now keep in mind this is a spicy dish. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. While the Sichuan peppers themselves aren’t hot…they definitely have a tongue-tinging unique flavor that numbs your mouth and lasts for quite a while after you are done eating. The black peppers lend some peppery heat to the dish and the added dried red peppers (depending on the type you use- I used Chinese dried red chili) can be very hot if you bite into them, so I would recommend keeping them whole so you can pick them out for a roasted chili flavor without the heat as such. And lastly the Fresno/Thai chili are for those heat-seekers like myself and adds a bright red touch to the dish. No matter what quantities of the spices you alter for your taste preference, I would very highly suggest not skimping on the green onion and fresh chopped herbs at the end. You can take your pick of soft herbs like cilantro, chives, mint, basil, Thai basil etc. – I used 3 herbs growing in my garden: mint, cilantro and Thai basil. But what ever you do…keep the herbs in the recipe! Trust me!
Do let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below!
- * 2lbs Pork Butt/ Pork Loin Rib End Roast
- * 3 tsp Black Peppercorns
- * 1 1/2 tsp Sichuan/ Szechuan Peppercorns
- * 2 Star Anise
- * 4-6 Dried Red Peppers
- * 4 Cloves Garlic, sliced
- * 4 Green Onions/Scallions
- * 1 Fresno Chili (optional)
- * 2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
- * 2 Tbsp Sesame Oil
- * 1/2 Cup Soft herbs like Mint, Thai Basil, Cilantro, Chives
- * Salt, to taste
- * 2 Tbsp Safflower/ Peanut Oil (high Heat oil)
- - Start by slicing and chopping the green onions length-wise in 2-3 inch pieces. Also roughly chop the soft herbs (like Thai basil, mint, cilantro, chives) and set aside for later.
- - Slice the garlic cloves length-wise in thin slices. Slice the Fresno chili pepper in thin slices too (de-seed for less heat)
- - Slice the Pork Loin Rib End Roast in 1 inch pieces. (If using Pork butt you may want to cut the pieces a bit smaller as it is a tougher cut of meat.
- - In a pestle and mortar, grind the star anise into a coarse powder. Then add the black peppercorns and sichuan/szechuan peppercorns and pound into a coarse powder also.
- - Add the peppercorn mixture to the cut pork, mix and allow it to sit for 20 mins at room temperature.
- - Heat a heavy pan or Wok on High. Add 2 tbsp Safflower/canola oil and quickly add the meat.
- - Cook on high until browned on all sides
- - Add dried chili peppers halfway through browning the meat
- - Once the meat is well browned and almost cooked, add the garlic and sliced Fresno pepper, Rice vinegar, sesame oil and green onions
- - Saute for a few minutes then add salt to taste
- - Plate and garnish with fresh chopped herbs and a sprinkling of salt over the top
- For a Paleo/Whole30 version...Serve with cauliflower rice instead of jasmine rice and skip the beer 😉