SICHUAN PORK WITH PEPPERS AND PEANUTS

SICHUAN PORK WITH PEPPERS AND PEANUTS
From Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories by Grace Young (Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2010). Copyright © 2010 by Grace Young. Used with permission of the publisher.

Serves 2 to 3 as a main dish with rice or 4 as part of a multicourse meal

This spicy classic from Sichuan couldn't be easier to make. The pork is marinated in egg white to tenderize the meat, but it does not change the texture to the extent it would if the meat were truly velveted and blanched in oil or water. Occasionally I make this with chili garlic sauce, but I prefer chili bean sauce; the difference is chili bean sauce is made with soybeans and has greater depth of flavor.

1 pound lean pork shoulder or butt, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon egg white, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons minced plus 1 tablespoon thinly sliced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons Chinkiang or balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1/2 cup diced red onions
2 teaspoons chili bean sauce
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts

1. In a medium bowl, combine the pork, egg white, 1 tablespoon of the rice wine, cornstarch, the 2 teaspoons minced garlic, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Stir to combine. In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, vinegar, and the remaining 2 tablespoons rice wine.

2. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the oil, add the red onions and the remaining 1 tablespoon sliced garlic, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry for 1 minute or until the onion wilts. Push the onion mixture to the sides of the wok, carefully add the pork, and spread it evenly in one layer in the wok. Cook undisturbed 1 minute, letting the pork begin to sear. Add the chili bean sauce and stir-fry 2 minutes or until the pork is lightly browned but not cooked through. Transfer the pork to a plate.

3. Swirl the remaining 1 tablespoon oil into the wok. Add the bell peppers, sprinkle on the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, reduce the heat to medium, and stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until the bell peppers begin to soften. Return the pork with any juices that have accumulated to the wok, increase the heat to high, swirl the rice wine mixture into the wok, and stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until the pork is just cooked through. Stir in the peanuts.

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