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This colorful melange of pork and vegetables features the deep flavor of molasses, the heat of red pepper flakes, and the distinctive taste of cilantro (or basil, if you're not a cilantro fan). Our take on scallion pancakes is a much less complex process, though it still makes tasty cakes, than the traditional coiling and rolling method. See our Scallion Pancake recipe on this site.
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cubed*
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) soy sauce**
1/4 cup (1 ounce) cornstarch
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) vegetable oil
2 cups (7 to 8 ounces, 2 medium) chopped onions
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) water or chicken broth
2 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) molasses
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) brown sugar
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) rice wine vinegar or white vinegar
2 tablespoons (5/8 ounce) minced fresh or bottled crushed ginger
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups (18 to 20 ounces, 2 large) diced sweet potatoes
1 1/2 to 2 cups (8 to 10 ounces) diced red bell pepper
1 1/2 to 2 cups (8 to 10 ounces) diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup (3/4 ounce) fresh cilantro or fresh basil leaves, chopped
toasted sesame oil (optional)
*If pork chops are on sale, they may be the most economical way to go. It's easy to trim their fat and cut chops into pieces. You can also boil any bones in a bit of water, then strain the broth to use as the liquid in the stew.
**Plus extra to add, to taste, near the end of the simmering time.
Trim any excess fat from the meat. Cut it into 1/2-inch cubes, and toss them with the soy sauce, then the cornstarch.
Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Brown the meat, add the onions, and cook until browned. Pour the water or broth over the meat and onions, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce it to a simmer, and stir in the molasses, brown sugar, vinegar, ginger, hot pepper, garlic, and black pepper. Simmer the stew for 30 minutes or so, until the meat is somewhat tender.
After 30 minutes, add the diced sweet potatoes and simmer, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked. Finally, stir in the red and green peppers, and cook for an additional 10 minutes, till the peppers are crisp-tender. Note: The peppers may be added when you add the sweet potato, but adding them in the final 10 minutes of cooking keeps their color bright and their texture pleasingly crunchy.
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the chopped fresh cilantro or basil over the top of each serving of stew, then drizzle with a few drops of sesame oil, if desired, right before serving. Serve the stew with scallion pancakes (recipe below). Yield: 6 to 8 servings, about 1 1/4 cups each.
Nutrition information per serving (1/6 of stew, about 1 1/4 cups, 356g): 544 cal, 31g fat, 31g protein, 25g complex carbohydrates, 10g sugar, 4g dietary fiber, 109mg cholesterol, 590mg sodium, 853mg potassium, 1081RE vitamin A, 120mg vitamin C, 3mg iron, 75mg calcium, 335mg phosphorus.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XII, No. 2, Winter 2002 issue.