No doubt: Stir-frying is fast. The frying itself, that is. Sometimes the prep work can be anything but: Chop these, shred those, dice 25 things into the wok. This recipe manages to eke a lot of flavor from a list of ingredients that, in the stir-fry world at least, is relatively short.
And it has a therapeutic plus: After a day at the office, there can be something curiously satisfying about whacking a pork tenderloin with a rolling pin.
The chilies add a jolt of color to the dish, but they are searingly hot, so you might want to remove them first, especially if younger eaters are at the table.
Serve over rice or rice noodles.
- 1 pound 4 ounces pork tenderloin, trimmed of excess fat and silver skin
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 to 5 tablespoons grated or shredded unsweetened coconut
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1-inch piece ginger root
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 stalk lemon grass
- 4 whole red Thai chiles
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons chili sauce
- 1 large handful Thai basil (about 1 cup loosely packed leaves); may substitute Italian basil or cilantro
Trim the pork tenderloin of any excess fat and silver skin and place between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap. Pound it with a rolling pin to flatten the meat to about 1 inch. Slice it thinly (about 1/4 inch) and season to taste with the salt and black pepper.
Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat until hot. Add the coconut and cook for a few minutes, stirring as needed to prevent burning, until golden. Transfer to a plate.
Add the oil to the wok or skillet and heat until hot. Add half of the pork and sear for 2 or 3 minutes, until browned. (The pork will not be cooked through.) Remove from the wok or skillet and repeat with the second batch of pork; add it to the first batch.
Meanwhile, coarsely grate the ginger. Cut the garlic into very thin slices. Remove the tough outer leaves of the lemon grass and bruise the bottom 2 inches of the inner stalk, then slice it thinly. Add the ginger, garlic, lemon grass and chilis to the wok and stir-fry over high heat for 1 minute. Return the pork to the wok and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the fish sauce and chili sauce and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes or until the pork is completely cooked through. Remove from the heat and stir in the Thai sweet basil.
Divide among plates or 4 bowls and garnish with the toasted coconut.
Adapted from "Chop, Sizzle, & Stir: Easy Recipes for Fabulous Stir-Fries," by Nadia Arumugam (Ryland Peters & Small, 2009).
Tested by Jane Touzalin.
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