Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pork and Apples in Bulgogi sauce

This may seem like just a riff off of the last post. But there’s a moral at the end of this story, I promise.

So a few weeks ago, when Hurricane Irene was allegedly rampaging through the Northeast, Boyfriend and I and another couple decided to escape the torrential rains, flooding, the Apocalypse, etc. for drier pastures inland to State College, PA. Which actually turned out to be a very entertaining getaway, even if it turned out the world did not end when the hurricane hit New Jersey.  While our friends in New Jersey were huddled inside their homes, conserving bottled water and unperishables, we were exploring Penn State's campus, walking to bars and swimming in the hotel swimming pool.  On the last night our “hurrication” we drove to a neighboring town for Korean food at a restaurant called, “Kimchi.” Yes, we had kimchi at Kimchi, you know that just had to be said. Among the other dishes we had though, was a classic Korean dish, beef bulgogi, which I very much enjoyed. The next day, we left early in the morning to make our way home.  The trip home started out smoothly but came to a standstill shortly after we crossed the state border into New Jersey where we sat in traffic.  Apparently the storm had eroded away pieces of 287!  We eventually made it home and to find that my apartment was fortunately left unscathed by Irene.  Everything inside my apartment was as it was before; I didn't even come home to the flashing red digits on my alarm clock, a tell-tale sign of power outage.  I did, however, come home with a craving for bulgogi.  Luckily, since the power never went out, the contents of my fridge remained unspoiled,  including a bottle of bulgogi sauce. (Which I most likely purchased the last time I went out for Korean food.)

So that is the inspiration for this week’s post. After the impromptu teriyaki stir-fry from the last post, I wanted to improve upon it, because the meat turned out to be overcooked and tough. So this time, I marinated the pork in the bulgogi sauce in the morning and went off to work.

When I got home, I had to decide what to do with it. I had a green apple, which I had saved for the purpose of cooking it with pork. Boyfriend makes a pork and apple stir-fry that comes out quite nice, and Rachael Ray has her own pork and apple dish, so I knew that pork and apples go well together. So I chopped the apple up along with the other vegetables I had in the fridge.

But what to do with the meat, so it would not be so tough? This time, I cut the pork into bigger chunks. I then sprinkled about a teaspoon of corn starch and mixed it around the meat and let it sit while I chopped the vegetables.

It turned out this method worked out really well. The pork was not tough and overcooked, but plump and juicy. I will definitely stick to this method in the future. And the apples let out a little bit of sweetness to the pork and the sauce, to make a sort of East meets West all blended together into one dish.

So as promised, there is a moral to this story, in fact there is more than moral to this story:

1. Marinate your meat with cornstarch
2. When there is a hurricane, take a “hurrication” if you can, you’ll have a blast.

Pork and Apple Stir-Fry in Bulgogi Sauce

1 pork tenderloin, chopped into 1-2 inch chunks
1 green apple, chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
About 3 Tbs of bottled bulgogi sauce for marinade, and another 2 Tbs for adding at the end
1 tsp cornstarch
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper


Marinate pork in 3 Tbs of bulgogi sauce. (I did it for about 10 hours in the fridge since I did it just before I left for work. You can probably get away with 1-2 hours). Sprinkle with cornstarch and set aside while you chop the vegetables.

Heat some oil in a large skillet. Brown the meat first for about two minutes on each side. Set aside on a plate. Add some more oil to pan and heat it a little bit on medium heat. Cook the onions first. Then add pepper, apples, and squash and cook for about 3 minutes. Create a “well” for the garlic by pushing the vegetables to the rim of the pan. Add the garlic with a little more oil to center of the pan. Allow to cook for about 30 seconds before incorporating with the rest of the mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the mixture for a few more minutes until you can easily pierce a fork into one of the chunks. (You may need to cover it to speed up the cooking). Add cooked pork, and stir in 2 Tbs of bulgogi sauce, heat for about another minute. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper. Garnish with some toasted sesame seeds.
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