I’m grateful to Pan Suefen for sharing this recipe, which calls for a “reverse” stir-fry technique, in which the vegetables are cooked before the meat. It tends to be forgiving for a novice stir-fryer, since vegetables release water as they cook and won’t stick the way that meat will if the wok isn’t quite hot enough. This stir-fry also illustrates the importance of the knife in stir-fry cooking. I slice the leeks the way Suefen showed me, on the diagonal, to increase the surface area exposed to the wok; that way, they wilt and release their fragrance faster. And I slice the pork thinly so that it will brown quickly before it loses its moisture. (See Blade-Ready, for tips on slicing meat for stir-frying.)
- 10 oz. boneless pork butt, frozen for 20 minutes and cut into 2″ x ⅛” strips
- 1 tsp. Asian sesame oil
- 1 tsp. dark soy sauce
- 1⁄2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1⁄4 tsp. sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
- 1 leek, white and pale green parts only, cut diagonally into ¼”-thick slices
- In a medium bowl, combine the pork, sesame oil, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar, and half the garlic; let sit for 15 minutes.
- Heat a 14″ wok (or stainless-steel skillet) over high heat until wok begins to smoke. Add 1 tbsp. oil around the edge of the wok and swirl to coat the bottom and sides. Add the leeks and cook, stirring and tossing constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer leeks to a plate and set aside.
- Return wok to high heat and add remaining oil around edge of wok, swirling to coat the bottom and sides. Add the pork mixture and remaining garlic and cook, stirring and tossing constantly, until the pork is browned, about 2 minutes.
- Add reserved leeks to the wok and cook, stirring and tossing often, until just tender, about 1 minute.