Family tradition going back generations places a tangerine at the tip of each Christmas stocking. As such, it’s the last treasure children (and other lucky recipients) extract that happy morning. There are practical reasons for the gift, maybe, in that citrus is in season late December, but where’s the holiday magic in that?
The real reason for the tangerine is that it’s a bright burst of summer sunshine just as winter’s shadows lengthen, carrying promise of a better future. Of course, gift-givers in our bountiful modernity often buy tangerines, clementines, etc. by the case, inspiring questions of what to do with all the citrus, besides enjoying it out-of-hand, naturally.
Fortunately, Bon Appetit offers a good suggestion in its November/December 2009 issue, which is to make Pork Tenderloin Stir-Fry with Tangerines and Chili Sauce. Today’s example uses the clementine instead, but it’s the same thing really, just without all those pesky seeds. They’re both varieties of mandarin oranges, after all.
The dish is loaded with exuberant flavor, and the citrus only is the beginning. There’s the crispy freshness bok choy greens provide, as well as the mildly spicy kick of sweet chili sauce, a staple found in most larger supermarkets’ Thai or “international” aisles. Nonetheless, the real superstar is the clementine, which has a sweetly tart flavor that compliments pork so well.
With a stir-fry, rice is an obvious companion for tangerine pork, though the circumstances (Christmas bounty, by chance?) call for a little something extra. Those bright flavors make coconut rice a perfect option. As luck has it, this journal offered just such a preparation back in May. Not much of a “recipe,” really, just add a bit of coconut cream to the rice as it cooks.
This is a great use for all that citrus, a relief to “Santa”s everywhere, who just bought a crate of tangerines.
By the way, Merry Christmas to the audience! To those of you not so inclined, Happy Holidays! Talk to you next as we prepare to flip calendars to 2020!
Pork Tenderloin Stir-Fry with Tangerines and Chili Sauce
- 1 and 1/4-pound pork tenderloin, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds, then into 1/2-inch wide strips
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 4 clementines or small tangerines, cut (with peel) into 3/4-inch wedges
- 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce (*1)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder (*2)
- 6 baby bok choy cabbages, tough base end removed and cut crosswise into 1-inch strips
- 5 scallions, white and light green parts cut thinly on the diagonal, divided
Place pork strips in a medium bowl and toss them with the corn starch and freshly-ground pepper. Set them aside.
Heat a wok, or large skillet, over a medium-high flame. Add one tablespoon of the oil (*3) and swirl to coat. Add the ginger and stir for 30 seconds, (*4)
Add the pork strips and stir frequently until it loses its pink color, about three minutes. Toss in the tangerine pieces and cook, stirring often, for 30 seconds. Stir in the chili sauce, the soy sauce and the five-spice powder and cook for another minute.
Stir in the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil, the bok choy and half the scallions. Cook until the cabbage just begins to wilt, about a minute or so. Season to taste with salt and freshly-ground pepper. Divide into individual servings, garnish with the remaining scallions and serve with rice if desired.
1 – As mentioned in the text above, you can find sweet chili sauce in most larger supermarkets’ Thai or “Asian” sections. If not, use a more common chili sauce, like sambal or even sriracha, and add a tablespoon of sugar. Not the same, but close.
2 – As with the chili sauce, five-spice powder hangs out in the “international” aisle.
3 – Most recipes, the original inspiring this one included, instruct the cook to heat the oil and the wok together. However, follow the teachings of Martin Yan, who advises, “Hot wok, cold oil, food won’t stick.”
4 – Another of Yan’s dictums: “It’s stir-fry, not stare-fry!”