Szechuan Pork Stir-Fry

For those nights when I have few vegetables in the refrigerator, and not a lot of time to cook something complicated, a stir-fry is usually the best thing to cook. I love how easy they are to throw together, and how something so incredibly simple can taste delicious and be good for you, too!

This recipe was bookmarked (okay, Post-It noted) in my awesome Cooking Light cookbook for over a year, and I just never got around to making it. I’m glad that I finally did, as we both really enjoyed it. The best part is that it was easy, and was ready very, very quickly – a must when you leave work late, leave the gym late, and get home late!

Szechuan Pork – adapted from Cooking Light

  • 6 oz udon noodles, precooked (we use the ‘Ka-Me’ brand & found it at Meijer)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 lb pork, trimmed & cut into 2-inch strips (we used boneless pork chops)
  • 1 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp freshly ground ginger
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter (can be omitted if needed)
  • 4 green onions, sliced diagonally
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan & swirl to coat.
  2. Add pork and chili garlic sauce, followed by the ginger. Stir fry for two minutes, then add the bell pepper.
  3. After another 2 minutes, add the both, soy sauce, and peanut butter. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the sauce starts to thicken.
  4. Stir in the onions. Add the udon noodles and toss well to combine.
  5. Serve nice and hot!
A quick stir-fry for a busy night!

A quick stir-fry for a busy night!

I’d say that from start to finish, this dinner took 30 minutes, tops! It was quick, easy, and tasted absolutely fantastic. At first I was a tad skeptical about adding peanut butter – of all things?! – to this dish, but it really took it to the next level. Trust me – don’t leave it out if you can help it.

Mike & I recently discovered these precooked udon noodles at one of our grocery stores, and we can’t get enough of them in our stir-fry’s as of late. If you want, you can simply omit and serve with rice instead.

Lemongrass Chicken Stir-Fry

I love stir-fries for two reasons: 1) lots of veggies, and 2) lots of flavors. I can’t seem to successfully make a really AWESOME stir-fry unless I have a recipe to go with it. Throwing veggies in? Not a problem. The sauce? Well…still working on my own concoction.

When I saw this recipe in my Jan ’13 issue of Cooking Light, I was intrigued by the usage of lemongrass (which I have in my cupboard, dried) and green beans in the veggies list. I decided to make this for dinner one evening after work, and it was definitely a hit.

Lemongrass Chicken Stir-Fry – adapted from Cooking Light

  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sambal oelek
  • 2 tbsp canola oil (divided)
  • 2 tsp dried lemongrass
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 8-oz green beans, trimmed
  • 1 lb boneless&skinless chicken thighs, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup unsalted cashews
  • 1 Thai chile, thinly sliced (I had a whole cayenne pepper frozen in my freezer from summer, so I used that).
  1. Combine brown sugar, stock, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sambal oelek in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large work or skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp of the oil & swirl to coat the pan.
  3. Add lemongrass & garlic; stir-fry for 30 seconds. Turn heat up to high. Add bell pepper, shallots, & green beans to the pan & stir fry for two minutes. Remove all vegetables from pan with a slotted spoon & set aside in a bowl.
  4. Add remaining oil to pan & swirl to coat. Add chicken and cook until browned (2-3 minutes).
  5. Add cashews & chile & cook for about two minutes. Then, add the vegetables back in and the sauce mixture.
  6. Bring to a boil & cook until the sauce thickens. Serve immediately with rice or noodles.
Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

When I was younger, I was not a huge fan of dark-meat chicken, especially chicken thighs. The more I cook, the more I have noticed that they have a very rich flavor and are especially great with Asian cuisine. I do my best to cut off as much fat as possible, but am definitely not as wary about using them as I used to be.

I served our stir-fry with some ready-to-serve udon noodles that I found at my grocery store. Since they were pre-cooked, I threw them into the wok when I added the vegetables back in. They were absolutely fantastic & I highly recommend you try them. I think I like them better than the dried rice noodles I normally buy.

The only thing I did not enjoy about this dish was – believe it or not – the green beans! I would have much rather preferred carrots or zucchini in the stir-fry. They tasted okay, but it just didn’t seem ‘right’ to have them in there. One part of this dish that I suggest you don’t leave out is the cashews – that is, of course, unless you or someone in your home has a nut allergy. They added a really good texture to the dish and I was surprised at how much I enjoy them. I am looking forward to making this dish in the summer, when more vegetables are in season. This stir-fry is definitely in my arsenal for dishes to repeat!

As far as the spiciness is concerned – I personally needed more punch. If you like, you can add more sambal oelek for some more heat. Or, of course, sriracha…

…speaking of which – have any of you out there tried those new Sriracha chips from Lays? 🙂 YUM!

Crispy Honey-Soy Tofu

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely a fan of firm tofu. It’s an easy, meat-free protein that doesn’t really have a taste; rather, it takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it with. My absolute favorite way to eat tofu is in Asian stir-frys. The Thai restaurant a few blocks away makes a killer Pad Thai with tofu (I bet it’s really good with chicken or shrimp too, but i’m a creature of habit when it comes to ordering take-out).

I think the key to making really delicious tofu is crisping it up a bit before you add it to the rest of the dish that you’ll be serving it with. Caitlin at the Healthy Tipping Point has a great way to make crisped-up tofu…thus when I made this recipe, I found the steps to be very similar.

Crispy Honey-Soy Tofu – adapted from Living to Dine

  • 2 tbsp oil (I used the coconut oil I received from a Foodie Penpal swap…it rocked)
  • 1 pkg extra-firm tofu, pressed & cubed
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch

For the Honey-Soy sauce:

  • juice of one lime
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 inch fresh ginger, grated (you can also substitute with a pinch of ground ginger)
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1.5 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • red pepper flakes (if you like)
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.
  2. Dredge the tofu cubes in cornstarch & shake off any excess.
  3. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Place the tofu into the hot oil, browning each side. Once all is nice and crispy, transfer the tofu to a paper towel & set aside.
  4. Lower the heat in the pan. Once the temperature has dropped a bit, add the sauce and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the tofu back in and toss to coat.
  5. Serve atop of rice with some veggies (I recommend sesame carrots or snow peas).
Crispy Honey-Soy Tofu with sesame carrots & brown rice.

Crispy Honey-Soy Tofu with sesame carrots & brown rice.

To be honest, I was tempted to eat all of the tofu, carrots and rice that I had made for dinner. It was honestly that good. However, I needed to be a good wife and same some dinner for my husband 🙂

The flavor of the sauce that you coat the tofu with is amazing. The garlic, ginger & lime are a great combination with the soy, and the honey adds a really nice sweetness to it. As I said before, I browned the tofu in coconut oil – this added a bit more sweetness and depth to the meal and I was very impressed with how it turned out.

The carrots were made with sesame-chili oil, sesame seeds, and the Bangkok Blend seasoning from Penzey’s Spices. Great heat and great flavor. I didn’t even need to add sriracha to my dish – can you believe it?!

I feel as though this is the quintessential Asian stir fry flavor that I have been in search of for a very long time.

If you’re a tofu fan, I think you’ll really like this dish. If you’ve never tried tofu, trust me – try this dish! You won’t be disappointed.