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Whenever Sam and I go out to eat with my family in Chinatown, it’s tough to find the right balance of the safe and the adventurous. Everyone has their own favorite. my sister loves the steamed fish, I love mixed seafood in the bird’s nest (don’t worry- it’s made of fried taro). But my dad’s caught on what to order that he knows will consistently deliver and be devoured: crispy salt and pepper pork. And even as an otherwise pork-less eater, Sam loves it! Ever the eager wanna-be, I wanted to try and recreate this dish as home, and here’s what we came up with.
I picked up standard boneless pork chops, cutting them into smaller pieces, and giving them a once over with a meat tenderizer so they’d fry quicker. The batter is a dry mix of corn starch and white pepper, which gave the pieces a nice crisp tang. After a quick fry in vegetable oil and dry on a paper towel, they went into a hot pan with olive oil, garlic, sea salt, scallions, a dash of cayenne pepper and a splash of soy sauce.
At the suggestion of my uncle, I picked up some fresh broccoli from Garden of Eden, along with the scallions and some spicy chili oil (Sam’s favorite on pretty much anything asian-food). I cut off the stalks (and saved from future omelettes and other various meals), and threw the chopped pieces into a collendar to be steamed. Despite the blanching/boiling upbringing from my mom and grandma, I prefer steam to keep the crispness and flavor of veggies. A couple minutes there, and they went into the same pan (pork chops removed), with olive oil, garlic, and of course, soy.
Obviously not your Chinatown pork chops, there were a few differences. While the crust on the pork chops was good, I have to experiment a little to give it more textured crunch. I did hold back a little on using the amount of salt, which I liked because the pepper flavor came through really nicely. The chili oil was an essential side, even though the cayenne and white pepper offered a sufficient kick. It was just a different layer of taste the melded well into the mix.