July 18, 2011
We wanted a quick and tasty lunch on Saturday, something memorable and different, and something that wouldn't be too much hassle to make. Flipping through some Thai cookbooks, I saw a couple recipes for Caramel Pork. Thin slices of stir-fried pork coated in a sticky-sweet sauce, served atop jasmine rice and topped with crisp-fried shallots... the basic concept sounded pretty good to me. However, I wanted something a bit spicier, and I also wanted to have at least some vegetables. With that in mind, I set about making my own recipe.
We picked up some snow peas at the Saturday AM farmer's market, and we have lots of hot chili peppers of our own. With those additions, I adjusted a few ingredients to taste and tried out my version of Caramel Pork.
This recipe is definitely a winner. The pork pieces were nicely browned and coated with the sauce, while the snow peas were lightly crisped due to having cooked first with the pork, then in the sauce. This gave them an unusual, yet very pleasant, texture and flavor. Tiny bits of red chilis gave the sweet, sticky sauce a bit of heat, while the crisp-fried shallots added more sweetness and just a touch of bitterness. I served up the pork with jasmine rice and with fresh tomato wedges, which provided both a bit of tartness and something cool to balance the heat of the pork and sauce. All in all, this made for a really nice lunch.
This pork dish is unlike anything I've ever had or made before. We both loved it, and I'll definitely be making it again.
Caramel Pork with Hot Peppers and Snow Peas
yield = 4 servings
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large shallots, thinly sliced
5 tablespoons (unpacked) brown sugar
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
6 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 lbs pork, thinly sliced
2-3 fresh red chili peppers, diced
4 ounces snow peas, trimmed
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and fry the shallots until they are golden brown. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside
Increase heat to medium-high. Stir together brown sugar, oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce and white pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
Add garlic, cook 30 seconds, the add pork and chili peppers. Stir-fry until the pork has started to brown on all sides. Add the snow peas and stir-fry 1 minute.
Add the brown sugar mixture and continue cooking for until about 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened to a thick, sticky texture and coated the pork.
Transfer pork mixture to a serving platter and sprinkle with the fried shallots. Serve over jasmine rice.