Two home runs in a row! This dish (p. 73) came out superb.
I was a little wary of this one what with the deep-frying of the chopped garlic as a first step. Both the garlic-infused oil and fried garlic are used in the dish, so the step could be considered necessary. I decided I would use my wok to do the frying. Apparently frying foods is a good way to help the patina develop which is something I greatly desire.
So, I broke out the trusty thermometer, put some oil in the wok and fired up the burner. I wasn’t sure whether to put the oil in before or after the wok had heated, but I guess it didn’t much matter. The oil became hot very quickly, shooting well beyond the 280º mark in a what seemed like the blink of an eye. I tried to let it cool off a bit and lower the heat, but eventually became impatient and dropped the garlic in anyway.
I let it cook for about 45 seconds, which ended up being too long. After letting it cool, I had a little taste of a bigger piece of garlic and it had formed a very bitter taste. Definitely overcooked. Rather than despair, I just chopped up more garlic and decided I would stir-fry it in with the ginger slices at the very beginning of the dish. This turned out very well and I don’t think I missed out on too much garlic flavor due to my error.
After that, it’s on to cooking the pork. Here I made another deviation by using pork loin rather than pork shoulder. This made trimming fat and cutting a bit easier. It turned out to be a fine choice, as the meat was tender and flavorful.
Once the meat is mostly browned, it was in with all that cucumber. I’d never used English cucumber before, so this was something I had looked forward to tasting. It wilted down beautifully, almost taking on a translucent quality while still holding it’s form. I also made little stripes on the skin with a vegetable peeler, as I had seen in the cookbook. It made for a very pretty end result.
When all was said and done, this dish turned out excellent! A definite candidate for a repeat meal.
What I Would Do Differently
- Keep a much closer eye on the deep frying temperature and really nail that 280º mark. I’d also only cook the garlic for about 30 seconds so as not to burn it.
- I would peel the ginger before slicing. When I prepared it, I left the skin on figuring they’d be easy to pick out of the dish. The reality is that they blend right in after cooking and it’s easy to get a chunk of skinned ginger in a mouthful. I rather enjoy eating ginger, but not so much the skin.
Next on the Menu: Stir-Fried Garlic Eggplant with Pork