Stir-Fried Cucumber and Pork with Golden Garlic
Ring in the Chinese New Year With this Classic Dish
This is one of the fi rst stir-fries Amy Yip learned to make as a young girl. A classic yin yang stir-fry, it combines cooling, or yin, cucumber with yang ingredients like pork, ginger, and golden fried garlic. Amy told me that she saves time by using English cucumbers because they do not need to be seeded. Before slicing the cucumber she uses a vegetable peeler to peel off thin lengthwise strips, leaving a little green peel on both sides of each strip.
Garlic mellowed by frying is the main seasoning. To fry the garlic, you will need to tilt the saucepan or wok
slightly while securely holding the handle in order to check the temperature of the oil on a deep-frying thermometer. Make sure the tip of the thermometer does not touch the pan. The oil used to cook the garlic is used again in the stir-fry to give additional fl avor; normally I do not recommend reusing oil after deep-fat frying, but this oil is only heated to 280°F and is removed from the heat within 1 minute. The remaining cooled oil can be stored in a jar. If you use the wok to fry the garlic, it must be washed and dried before using it to stir-fry the pork.
In a 1-quart saucepan or a 14-inch fl at-bottomed wok heat the oil over high heat until the oil registers
280°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Carefully add the garlic. Cook, stirring 30 seconds to 1 minute or
until the garlic is light golden. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Remove the garlic with a metal skimmer
and put on a plate lined with paper towels. Carefully remove the oil from the wok and reserve.Wash
the wok and dry it thoroughly.
In a shallow bowl combine the pork, cornstarch, 11/2 teaspoons of the soy sauce, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon
of the salt. In a small bowl combine the remaining 11/2 teaspoons soy sauce and 1 tablespoon cold water.
Heat a 14-inch fl at-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within
1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 2 tablespoons of the reserved garlic oil, add the ginger slices, then,
using a metal spatula, stir-fry 30 seconds or until the ginger is fragrant. Push the ginger 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. Then stir-fry 1 minute or until the pork is lightly browned but not cooked
through. Add the cucumber and stir-fry 30 seconds or until well combined. Sprinkle on the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, swirl the reserved soy sauce mixture into the wok, and stir-fry 1 minute or until the pork
is just cooked and the cucumber begins to wilt. Stir in the reserved garlic.