If you haven’t tried Chinese 5-spice powder yet, I urge you to try it. A little goes a long way and I realize this spice isn’t in many New England chef’s repertoire, let alone anyone stocking it at home, but ‘it ought to be’, as my father said many times. The flavor is outrageously good and probably one of the spices you should always keep in stock.
Being a New Englander and living in Maine affords us the opportunity to indulge ourselves with farm stand fruits and vegetables for a good 5 months a year. Beginning with fiddleheads at the first sign of a wet spring to pie pumpkins and apples late in the fall. In between there are cucumbers, berries, corn, potatoes and much much more, with green beans a perennial favorite. I had a farm stand on Stillwater Avenue in Bangor for 10 years and yellow beans were almost a tie with green beans with regards to demand. I refuse to call these yellow delights “wax” or “waxed” beans because fresh yellow beans bear as much resemblance to those glassy varieties so often found is stores, as an apple does to a banana. Although not quite as sweet as the green variety, yellow beans would be a great substitute in the following recipe. But ONLY if you can find them fresh.
‘Yanked’ Pork-Green Bean Stir- Fry
Why do I call these ‘Yanked” even though I use 5-spice powder? Make it and see for yourself how easy it is and how superior it tastes compared to other stir-fry’s you have had in the past.
1 1/2 lb. boneless pork loin
1 T. or more Chinese 5-spice powder
12 oz. fresh green beans, snipped
2 T. peanut oil
1 t. minced garlic in oil
1 T. soy sauce
3/4 c. apple juice or cider
1 t. cornstarch, mixed with 1 t. water to make slurry
Remove all the fat from the pork and cut it into long, thin strips. Sprinkle the pork strips with 5-spice powder and leave in refrigerator while preparing green beans. Steam or boil green beans until just barely done, they should be crisp tender. Shock in ice water after removing from stove; drain well.
In a large wok or non stick skillet, heat the oil on high. Add the garlic and stir-fry this for 30 seconds, constantly stirring. Add the pork and cook until brown, about 2-3 minutes, constantly stirring. Add the green beans and continue stir-frying for another 2-3 minutes, or until beans are tender. Add the soy sauce and apple juice. While this is coming to a boil within a few seconds, mix the cornstarch slurry so that it is smooth and not settled to the bottom of the bowl. Slowly add this to the stir-fry and stir immediately to thicken, Remove from heat and serve. Best if served over while rice or cooked noodles of your choice.