Oriental-Style Pork with Oyster Sauce and Mushrooms

As I’ve stated in other parts of this book, I didn’t eat pork until after I was married because my Jewish parents kept a kosher house. However, I still recall a whiff of bacon cooking in the kitchen and I loved that smell and flavor, still do! I think my mother followed certain rules, and passed on others, whatever worked best for her. I do the same.

Once married, I saw pork recipes in cookbooks and at restaurants. I dined at Chinese restaurants where I often ate barbeque pork, along with vegetables and liked the flavor. I grew to like Wonton soup, often with dumplings filled with pieces of pork. With friends too, we ate at Ethnic restaurants, where pork was a common ingredient. In particular, I loved chewing on pork spare ribs which had been well-coated in a sticky, flavorful sauce. Overtime I grew to relish the crunch of water chestnuts which enhanced many Chinese dishes.

For this dish, I used a portion of leftover pork. One evening my husband and I had ordered in Chinese food, and added barbequed pork as an extra appetizer. But during our meal we realized we ordered too much food! I saved the pork. Bells and whistles went off in my head about how to make use of the remaining meat.

I didn’t just want to simply heat up the meat and eat it plain. I thought I might add fresh Asian seasonings. Definitely I would include vegetables.

Finally I browsed through several cookbooks to see if anything enticed me. I saw one recipe which caught my eye, but it didn’t have vegetables, which was disappointing. However, I knew I could include whatever I wanted to, and so I did.

Unfolding this creative recipe was challenging and fun, as I took an intuitive stab at what I liked and what would produce the tastiest dish. Luckily I stock my pantry with many staple ingredients, like water chestnuts and bean sprouts But also in my refrigerator, among other ingredients, I keep black bean curd, oyster and fish sauce, and various seasoning sauces, each differing a little, so I’m prepared for the unusual.

INGREDIENTS Serves 4-6

8 oz. sliced mushrooms

1 onion, chopped

1 green pepper, coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced, divided

2 carrots, 1/4 inch sliced

2 stalks celery, 1/4 inch sliced – use green tops, if possible

1 can bean sprouts, drained (optional)

1 lb. cooked roasted pork, cut in1/2 inch pieces or use any leftover pork, cut up small

3/4 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce

2 tsp fish sauce

few grinds of pepper

1 Tbsp cornstarch plus 1 tsp

2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 Tbsp butter

3 cups cooked rice

PROCESS

1 In a medium size bowl stir the leftover meat with the soy sauce and 2 of the minced garlic cloves. Set it aside for 20-30 minutes; stir it once or twice. In a medium size bowl, add the chicken stock, and the oyster and fish sauce. Set aside.

2 In a large frying pan heat to medium high 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the carrots, onion, celery and green pepper. Add another tablespoon of oil if necessary. Reduce the heat to medium and, stirring occasionally, cook 7-12 minutes, as the vegetables cook and turn slightly golden. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the remaining garlic. Cook1-2 minutes. Add the butter. Add the mushrooms, stir a few times, cover and cook for 5-7 minutes as the mushrooms cook and release their moisture.

3 Stir in the pork and water chestnuts, and bean sprouts, if using. To the bowl with the chicken stock, stir in the cornstarch until smooth. Add it to the pork and vegetables. Add a few shakes of pepper, if desired. Cook everything on medium heat, stirring occasionally as the mixture gradually thickens, for about 5 minutes. If too thick add a bit more chicken stock. Adjust seasoning.

4 Serve over hot cooked rice, noodles or pasta. Pass around additional soy sauce.

TIPS AND TWEAKS

  • Substitute pork with cooked and cut-up beef or chicken pieces.
  • Substitute vegetables at step 2 with other choices, watchful that they are similar sizes size.
  • Add half a teaspoon or more of crushed red pepper at step 3.

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