Today’s dinner dish was based off this Onion Black Pepper Pork Neck recipe found on a Chinese recipe website – it was one of the first recipes to show up when I searched for ‘pork neck meat’. I’ve modified the ingredients a little and have added some elaboration to the somewhat handwavey steps in the original. Serve this with rice or toss it with noodles; it’s too flavorful (in my opinion) to be eaten alone.
I bought two pounds of pork neck bones/meat on my first-ever grocery shopping trip today. It may sound strange, and this cut tends to have a bit more fat, but the meat is ridiculously tender, akin to the best parts of pork rib – if you haven’t tried neck meat before, I’d definitely recommend doing it. Pork neck is one of the least expensive cuts of meat because most Americans prefer lean meat and don’t like to eat ‘weird’ parts of animals – all the better for me.
Obviously, any other cut is fine, I just refer to pork neck here because that’s what I used. I’m not sure if this would taste good with either chicken or beef. I imagine you’d tone down the amount of seasoning with beef, and marinade for longer + cook for shorter with chicken.
Getting the meat off the bones was surprisingly tricky. Muscle sticks to bone more strongly than one imagines, and I had to do a bit of sawing with my knife-that-is-dull-because-I-can’t-find-a-whetstone-in-this-apartment. I also forgot to trim the larger pieces of fat off…but it made it taste really good.
Before starting, I was uncertain that this would taste like anything because pork on its own just tastes like…pork. Well, I’m now very impressed by what a teriyaki sauce bath can do. Unfortunately, the store-bought kind is usually very high in sodium. I fumbled the sauce-to-water ratio for the marinade (thanks, vague recipe) and it probably would have been less salty if I had used more water, but in the future/once this bottle runs out I’m going to attempt this mix:
Most Japanese just mix soy sauce (2TBS), rice vinegar (2TBS), sugar/honey (1tsp) and salt (to taste) instead of buying teriyaki sause. — Seen on this forum discussion about teriyaki sauce substitutes.
With the preamble out of the way, let’s get to the food!
Black Pepper Teriyaki Pork Stir-fry
This took me a while because it’s probably the most complex thing I’ve made so far, and I was stopping to wash dishes in the sink in between. If you know what you’re doing, I think 25 minutes would be enough, including 15 minutes of marinading. Enough time to cook a pot of rice and some vegetables for the rest of your meal!
Ingredients (this made enough to accompany two solo meals)
- 200-300g pork neck bones (remove as much meat as you can from the bones, and don’t throw them away – you can use them for broth/soup if you want, although some say you should only use bones from high-quality organic meat for this)
- 1.5 to 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 70ml teriyaki sauce (original recipe calls for 90ml, which I found excessive)
- half an onion
- a generous amount of ground black pepper
- some vegetable oil for the frying
- (optional) finely chopped green onion/spring onion/scallion (confused? here’s a picture)
- Cut the pork into chunks – if needed. When I removed the meat from the bones it sort of had no choice but to turn into 1 inch/2.5cm-long pieces. Not too thick, as that will slow cooking: about half inch/1cm is great.
- In a bowl, pour in teriyaki sauce and half as much water (more water or less sauce if you want it to be less salty).
- Add pork to this, making sure the sauce can reach all the meat, and let marinade (sit) for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, peel and cut half an onion into large pieces (I cried). Set this aside for now.
- Add cornstarch to the pork marinade – just sprinkle it in – and mix well to coat the meat. Marinade for 10 more minutes. The cornstarch helps thicken the gravy/sauce you get at the end, and more importantly, keeps the meat tender and juicy when cooked.
- Heat up a wok or frying pan, then pour in a little oil. A circle with around 1-inch diameter is fine. Excessive, even? I’m not sure – I haven’t done this enough yet.
- Wait for the oil to get really hot – apparently sticking a wooden implement in and watching for bubbles fizzing up will tell you if it’s ready; I just winged it. Add the pork and stir-fry (chao, sort of like sautéing but with more flipping). If there’s marinade left in the bowl, add it to the pan, because why not.
- Set the cooked pork aside and add a little bit more oil to the pan if needed.
- Put the onions in and push them around until they’re a little softer.
- Add the pork back into the pan, and as much black pepper as needed to make it smell good, then stir-fry for a few more minutes. If you have green onions, toss them in. (The original recipe calls for adding a pinch of salt here, but I wouldn’t – the marinade packs enough sodium and you can always add more later if it’s not enough.)
I am worried about cooking in Germany because I will have to use a hot-plate type of stove, or an induction cooker. According to a friend originally from Stuttgart, open-flame stovetops haven’t been in common use for at least the past 30 years. I made spaghetti at her place a few days ago, and it was awful trying to understand how much heat was getting through to my food through numbers and dials. What does a setting of ‘5’ even mean? How much heat is there in the maximum setting? I can’t find out by touching the pan, so what else can I do? Grr.