One of the greatest things about not only making your own food, but trying food from new restaurants, is that you get to experiment with a variety of different flavor combinations and evaluate them. You can even come up with your own or take something you like and transform into something that you enjoy even more!
One flavor combination I ran across in an Asian restaurant recently was soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. It combines the savory umami of the soy with a sweetness but depth of the balsamic to make an amazing sauce. It has increasingly become one of my favorite flavor combinations!
I decided to take it one step further in this dish and add an aromatic note to the flavor combination that already screams out "fusion." Using a variety of Asian and Spanish ingredients, I came up with this pork stir-fry. I accompanied it with a soba noodle salad in traditional Japanese style - only it was made using Chinese flavorings like 5-spice. This makes for a truly unique, fragrant, and delicious dish!
Recipe serves 6 people.
For the pork:
1 1/2 pounds thinly sliced pork chops, cut into 1/2-inch wide strips
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon black cumin oil (or 1 teaspoon ground cumin)
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds, ground
1 1/2 teaspoons Szechuan peppercorns, ground
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh diced ginger
2 pinches saffron
1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
2 teaspoons Chinese 5 Spice
Fresh mint to garnish
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the Noodle Salad:
1/2 large package soba noodles, cooked and cooled (roughly 3 pounds of noodles)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon Chinese Five Spice
2 cups bok choy stems, cut into diamonds
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1 cup bok choy leaves, cut into strips
2 whole bell peppers, cut into thin strips(Julienne)
1. Combine all of the ingredients for the noodle salad together well, and store in the fridge until ready to serve.
2. Combine the pork with half of the soy sauce, and all of the balsamic, cumin oil, fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns, saffron, agave, 5-spice, and sesame oil.
3. Add the olive oil to a large frying pan or wok on medium-high heat. When the oil is just starting to smoke, add in the ginger and garlic, and quickly saute for a minute. Add in the marinated pork and cook until colored nicely on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
4. Add in the remaining soy sauce and lime juice and toss the pork in it quickly to finish cooking. Garnish with picked fresh mint leaves.
This dish manages to be intricate and complex while being healthy and super easy to make at the same time! It takes less than thirty minutes to make the entire meal, and you get the depth of flavor of a complex dish because of the fragrance of the spices, the varying textures of the noodle salad, the hot-cold balance that is very popular in Japanese cuisine, and the overall richness of the pork that is boosted by the agave, balsamic, and soy sauce. This is a flavor combination done at its best!
I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =)