Happy New Year!
I hope that everyone enjoyed all of the excitement of the holidays and is now recuperating in full-on hibernation mode. There’s nothing like January–or Drynuary, as it’s bitterly referred to in my house (my husband is the dry one, I am the bitter one), to force a reboot. Healthy eating goes hand-in-hand with this month of abstinence but fortunately I enjoy healthy cooking. If you scroll through Sly Rooster you’ll notice that the vast majority of recipes are indeed healthy. Lean proteins, unsaturated fats, moderate carbs and of course, lots and lots of vegetables. At the end of the day, I think it’s just the way we want to eat.
As I was scrolling through the THREE new cookbooks I received this Christmas (there’s nothing I love more than a new cookbook), I was thinking about how the vast majority of home cooking is healthy without being intentionally so. When you are cooking from scratch, with no preservatives, using ingredients that are readily available, food tends to be fresh, simple and good for you.
A perfect example is Stir-Fried Pork with Ginger from one of my new cookbooks, The Dinner Plan: Simple Weeknight Recipes and Strategies for Every Schedule. This dish qualifies as healthy by the mere fact that pork is a super lean cut of meat and it is cooked in a minimal amount of oil. The cookbook is written by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion, authors of Keepers, another cookbook in my arsenal that I turn to on a regular basis. Both of these cookbooks are ones that I wish I wrote myself. They are not “healthy” per se but supremely practical. The Dinner Plan, takes the concept of “keepers” a step further than their original book by identifying recipes into five categories of “situational weeknight cooking.” What am I talking about? Well, do you need to make dinner in the morning and finish just before serving? That’s “Make-Ahead.” Is tonight a night when the first family member will be eating at 5pm and the last at 9pm? “Staggered.” And by the way, doesn’t it feel good to know that there’s a category for this insanity and that you’re not the only one? There’s also “One-Dish,” “Pantry” and “Extra-Fast”–you get the drift. The recipes in The Dinner Plan are creative but more importantly for the average cook on any given night, functional. And yes, healthy by default. I made three different dishes over the course of two days and none were disappointing.
Stir-Fried Pork with Ginger is the first I’m sharing here because it’s indicative of the recipes found in this cookbook, being labeled “One-Dish and “Extra-Fast.” I would argue other appropriate tags would be “Make-Ahead” (I sliced the pork in the afternoon, left it in a bowl in the fridge and assembled the sauce in a separate bowl at the same time), “Staggered” (my kids ate dinner an hour before my husband, who equally enjoyed this dish) and “Pantry” (okay, I have a super stocked pantry but after you make this dish once, you will, too). Thinly slicing the pork causes it to cook extremely quickly so my only word of caution is to follow the timing and do not overcook the meat, lest it become tough and chewy. You can marinate the sliced pork in the sauce for about 15 minutes before cooking, but again, the sugar will cause the pork to cook even faster so instead, I chose to follow the recipe instructions and at the end, just reduced the sauce slightly to pour over the pork like a glaze.
This dish pairs perfectly with some steamed rice and broccoli. Beef would also work well but in keeping with January resolutions, why not go with the leaner cut of meat? Enjoy!
- 2 Tbls soy sauce
- 3 Tbls mirin or dry white wine
- 1 Tbls minced peeled fresh ginger
- 1 Tbls sugar
- 2 Tbls vegetable oil, plus extra if needed
- 1 lb pork loin, cut against the grain into 1/8-inch thick slices (it's easiest to slice the pork this thin after it has been in the freezer for 30 minutes).
- In a medium bowl, stir together the soy sauce, mirin, ginger and sugar, then set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat oil over high heat until it shimmers.
- Add half of the pork and cook until lightly browned, about 1 minute.
- Flip the pieces over and cook until lightly browned, about 1 minute more. Be careful not to overcook or the meat will be tough.
- Transfer the meat to the bowl with the prepared sauce and set aside.
- Repeat with the remaining meat, adding a little more oil, if needed.
- After cooking the second batch of pork, add the first batch along with the prepared sauce.
- Let simmer, stirring to coat the meat, for about 1-2 minutes.
- Remove the pork from the pan and return to the bowl (or a serving dish, if you're being fancy).
- Cook the sauce for a couple of minutes more so that it reduces slightly, thickening and intensifying in flavor.
- Pour the reduced soy mixture over the pork and serve.