Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Odd Couple

One of my very favorite rides at Disneyland is the Haunted Mansion from October through December. During that time, two holidays, Halloween and Christmas, collide, creating something that's more than slightly bizarre. But I happen to think that it's a wonderfully creative and delicious interpretation of Tim Burton's movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and I definitely appreciate how seamlessly two disparate ideas are blended in to one attraction that totally works.

Fresh produce can find some odd pairings too, especially during the transition months, as one season morphs into the next. One of my favorite examples of this is cranberries (fall) and jalapenos (late summer), simmered together to make the most intoxicating and flavorful jelly ever. In spring you'd expect to pair snap peas with asparagus or fava beans. But in this recipe, I've partnered them in a stir fry with the beautiful, nearly seedless tangerines that are enjoying their final days at our farmers' market. The contrast both in colors and flavors is so wonderful in this dish. Crisp and sweet peas are a perfect foil for the sour, slightly bitter and yielding flesh of the tangerine. Add in a little heat from some chili sauce, and you've got one heck of a dish with well-balanced flavors.

Sugar Snap Pea and Tangerine Stir Fry with Pork Tenderloin

Adapted from Bon Appetite

The contrast in colors and flavors, not to mention the heat from the chile sauce, makes this dish exciting. Don't bother peeling the tangerines as their skin becomes tender and sweet during cooking. I've included a recipe for sweet chile dipping sauce below, but sometimes you can find it at the grocery store.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Yield: serves 4


1 1/4 pound pork tenderloin
1 tablespoon cornstarch
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 seedless tangerines, sliced into 8 wedges
1 pound of sugar snap peas, de-stringed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup sweet chile sauce (*see below)
1 bunch of green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal


1. Slice the tenderloin into 1/2 inch rounds, then slice each round into strips. Toss with the corn starch and a pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside.

2. Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add oil and when nearly smoking add the fresh ginger root and stir. Toss in the tenderloin slices and garlic and cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat begins to brown and is almost cooked through. Add the tangerines and cook for 30 seconds more.

3. Stir in the sugar snap peas, soy sauce, chile sauce and half of the green onions and cook until the sauce begins to thicken, about 1 to 2 minutes more. Take off the heat and top with remaining green onions. Serve over hot rice.

*Sweet Chile Dipping Sauce

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
Yield: about 3/4 cup


1 C sugar
1/2 C white vinegar
1/2 C water
3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
1 t salt
1 T chile garlic sauce (sambal oelek or siracha sauce...or minced fresh chiles or dried chile flakes)


In a medium saucepan bring the first 5 ingredients to a gentle boil over medium heat. Boil for 10 minutes or until the mixture is a thin syrup. Remove from heat and stir in the chili garlic sauce. It keeps for about a week in the fridge when sealed in a glass jar. If you are using dried red chile flakes or fresh chiles instead, use sparingly as they can be quite spicy.

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