Causing a stir

August 18, 2023

It’s not unusual for anyone to crave something, whether it be food, drink or someone. Our world has become obsessed with instant gratification. Takeaway has been replaced with order in. Even if you wish to cook you can still order in the step-by-step box of everything you need.

Fancying something “Chinese” we ventured to the nearest ‘super Marche’ which happened to be in Port Talbot and set about our quest for ingredients, well not strictly true; we initially visited the in store cafe for a coffee. My black americano was just right, whilst Claire’s Latte followed by a ham & cheese toastie with a side of chips allegedly “hit the spot”. I cannot over emphasis the sheer amount of willpower that was needed to ignore what was in front of me. My Waterloo are chips and I am more than happy to enjoy them several times a week providing they are cooked from virgin potato in my air dryer thus a free-food. Did you know that in Genesis there is no mention of an apple? If the Fruit of Knowledge would be anything I am starting to believe potatoes would be involved.

Whilst we sat I buried my head in my phone and called up the “Slimming World” app, searching for a ‘safe’ Chinese recipe. I showed Claire the results and we settled upon “Sweet & Sour Pork”. At this point I threw into the mix the suggestion of a stir fry as a version of this classic. I received approval to experiment and we prepared to “run wild in the aisles”!

The majority of the ingredients were already in our larder however I was not sure about a few integral pieces such as pork. I mentioned earlier the liking for instant gratification and when shopping there is a sound – an alarm that only I can hear. I do have medication for this but it seldom works. The alarm denotes “rip off”. To be blunt if the produce has been prepared so that it is ready for use, then someone, somewhere, has done the donkey work, and the price reflects this. Trimmed beans, meat medallions, portioned fruit; all incur additional labour costs.

This was brought home in the Butchery section. I spied 4 pork medallions at £5, next to 2 pork steaks for nearly half as much. The 2 pack was pretty lean, cut thicker, and had only the hint of fat across the top. Looking at the weights, the 2 pack out weighed by 200g the medallions. Yes the “Slimmer’s Tax” was very much in evidence.

Returning to the kitchen I set about turning the ‘bag for life’ into dinner. Let me just list the ingredients used.

  • 1 Pork steak all visible fat removed
  • 1 red pepper deseeded and cut vertical thickly
  • 1 large white onion
  • handful of mange tout
  • handful of Baby Sweetcorn chopped
  • Cabbage shredded
  • pineapple
  • Carrot shaved with a peeler
  • garlic
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Chinese 5 spice
  • balsamic vinegar
  • Tomato Puree
  • Light Soy sauce
  • tin of Plum tomatoes

Firstly I prepared the pork and removed the fat and diced a steak into manageable chunks. Yes one steak not 2 is sufficient for 2 people and have a third meal as leftovers.

Next chop, slice and dice the veg again into manageable pieces. Everything should cook at the same time so a tree trunk of carrot verses a slice of pepper is an unfair match up. Think thin! Sounds like a 1970s Public Information film.

Whilst the pork was searing over a high heat wok, I started on the sauce. 1teaspoon of 5 spice into 3 tablespoons of Light Soy sauce, with 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. This dish is sweet & sour; so balsamic lends itself perfectly. Next some sweetness, 3 tablespoons of tomato puree and any pineapple juice left over from the preparation. Mix everything until combined into a thick sauce.

When the pork is ready decant to a plate and add the veg to the pan and stir fry vigorously for 1 or 2. As the peppers and mange tout start to wilt, add the sauce and the whole can of plum tomatoes. This will take the heat out of the pan instantly. Reduce the hob to medium. stir again and place the pork back into the stir fry. Another 5 minutes and it is ready.

A fat free alternative to shelf bought sauces that get all their sweetness artificially.