Does Chinese food have to be authentic? Nah. For me, authenticity is not important. I enjoy home-made Chinese food as much as the greasy American-Chinese take-out version. The Chinese food I grew up eating at home does not appear on take-out menus, so it was an exotic experience when we did order take-out. Who’s this General Tso and why do the chickens fear this name? What’s a moo-shu pork? What is it about canned mushrooms and water chestnuts that delight Buddhas all over the world?
At home, mom taught us to make wontons, dumplings, sauteed chicken with mustard greens and shitake mushrooms, pork stuffed bitter melons, pork buns, braised caramel pork, pork-anything, and stir-fries. Oh, the infinite possibilities of stir-fries! Select a protein, add some random variation of vegetables, whip up a brown sauce, and ta-da! I knew how to make brown sauce with a slurry before I could ride a bike. What goes in this brown sauce? Any combination of things and don’t even think about pulling out the measuring spoons.
In our family, what goes into the sauce depends on what’s in the pantry and fridge and who’s making it. This is my version of a take-out stir-fry for a stay-in dinner.
Chinese Take-in Stir-fry
Makes 8-10 servings
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. fresh Shitake mushrooms, de-stemmed, thick sliced (I love mushrooms, the more the better and if you can buy them fresh, it’s even more delicious)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 yellow or red Bell Pepper, diced
1/4 lb. Baby Corn (aka Candle Corn), bias-cut in half
1/4 lb. Snow Peas, bias cut in half
1/2 lb. bean sprouts
1 bu. scallions, thinly sliced
Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
4 Tbsp. Canola Oil
For the Sauce:
1 tsp. grated Ginger
1 – 2 Tbsp. hot sauce (Siracha)
1/2 c. Soy Sauce
1/4 c. Sweet Wine Vinegar
For the Slurry:
3-4 Tbsp. Cornstarch
5-6 Tbsp. warm water