Honey-Garlic Stir-Fried Pork
Hello, March. Or more specifically, March 7th. What the.
I was walking the dog the other day and I found tulips AND cherry blossoms. Spring is here! I try to find beauty and appreciation for every season and make the most of it. I live for cozy, so winter should really be my thing. Bubble baths, candles, comfort food (!), enormous sweaters, wool socks, reading nooks, twinkle lights – these things are my jam.
But. This winter has seemed darker, longer, and more full of viruses than other years. I think it’s the age of my kids (1 and 3) because other moms in this stage seem to have the same problem – as soon as one illness passes through the family, another round begins. We basically spent February taking turns being miserable with stomach bugs and head colds.
There are many things that have surprised me about motherhood, but one of my favourites is just how tough and go-with-the-flow it has made me. I realized the other day that I haven’t taken cold or stomach medications since 2012 (because I have been either pregnant or breastfeeding or BOTH since then). I used to pop Advil Cold & Sinus the second I got the sniffles and Pepto Bismol the minute I felt a bit queasy. This winter (with kids constantly in germy preschool, play gyms, public libraries, etc.) I’ve just gotten used to powering through. I don’t even think about it, I just carry on.
It’s really not motherhood that’s effected this change, just a jam-packed busy mind and jam-packed schedule. Amazing what a maximally-occupied brain can do for you in terms of simplifying things. So much less energy to spend dwelling on small illnesses, and other small stuff. I love having less room in my head to feel sorry for myself or anxious about unimportant things. Since I’ve recognized that in myself, I keep seeing iterations of the thought cropping up in books. Elizabeth Gilbert compares having a creative mind to having a border collie – if you don’t give it something to do and keep it active, it will find something to do and it will probably be destructive. So true, right? So you could say that you simplify your life by taking more on. Whaaaat?
Revelations and appreciation for newfound strength aside, bring on the warm weather and lighter days. PLEASE.
I’m sharing a quick, easy dinner today. It’s Chinese-ish. I took a single photo with my iPhone and it turned out semi-crappy, so I’m sorry. #it’sjustdinner.
And I realize that in the ingredients list, ketchup stands out like pulsing sore thumb. HOWEVER, you have to just trust me. I once came across a recipe for Chinese BBQ pork, in an actual – if perhaps dubious – Chinese cookbook, that called for ketchup. I tried it, it was delicious. This was before I knew that authentic Chinese BBQ pork uses hoisin sauce. But it’s delicious so who cares.
If you’d like another reason to believe me (or write me off as a ketchup-hawking weirdo) see ketchup curry – a.k.a. Adarsh’s Chicken 65. Unlikely? Yes. Delicious, also yes.
This recipe makes a pretty big batch – I made it with the intention of having leftovers, and we had plenty of them. So please feel free to halve the recipe (using 3 tbsp each ketchup and honey).
I made it to satisfy a craving for sweet-savoury mall Chinese food. I love pork tenderloins for easy weekday suppers – they’re juicier and more flavourful (and more forgiving to distracted dinner preparations!). Try my Weeknight Pulled Pork recipe using tenderloins, too, it’s a favourite among my mommy posse.
- 2 medium pork tenderloins cut into thin strips
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil divided (more if needed)
- 1 medium onion halved lengthwise then thinly sliced crosswise
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup honey
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp chinese rice wine sherry or dry white wine (totally fine if omitted)
- 1 tsp five-spice powder you could also omit this if you don't have it on hand - it won't have the Chinese BBQ pork flavour, but a delicious flavour nonetheless
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Season pork all over with salt. Heat 2 tbsp oil to shimmering hot in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add half of pork and brown well on all sides; transfer to a bowl, then repeat with more oil and second batch of pork. (If you do all at once, it won't brown.) Transfer to the bowl.
- To same skillet, add onion (and a splash more oil if pan is dry). Lower heat to medium and cook until soft and golden, about 6 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together remaining ingredients to make the sauce. Add sauce to onions, then return pork and any accumulated juices to pan. Give it all a good stir, and add a splash of water if needed to thin the sauce. Cook several minutes longer, until pork is no longer pink inside.