orange pork chow mein
Do you ever get a wild craving that grips you suddenly and refuses to leave? It might have been the smell of a nearby fryer that subconsciously made your mind drift to an image of fried chicken you just couldn’t shake. Or maybe it was a commercial that lasted not 30 seconds but left you with the meanest hankering for a juicy burger. Or perhaps you were walking past a movie theater and couldn’t, for the life of you, get buttery popcorn out of your mind.
This is completely normal. Happens to everyone! Nothing to be ashamed of. My ¡ciao ciao! chow mein craving, however, …maybe not so normal. How did I get there? Allow me to explain.
We’ve been living in Ecuador for 7 months now. Admittedly, I still feel somewhat on the outskirts of the culture. Which means that when people engage in conversations around me, I hear what they say and kind of create my own story. It also means that I hear things which make me think of other things. Here’s an example:
person on phone: “bla bla?” (Hey, aren’t you working tonight?)
person they’re talking to: “bla bla!” (I got off early, so we can meet for dinner!)
person on phone: “chévere!” (Great!)
person they’re talking to: “bla bla bla?” (So what do you feel like eating?)
person on phone: “¡OK ciao ciao!” (Let’s go get chow mein!)
Yes, it is ridiculous, but every time I hear someone say “¡ciao ciao!”, I hear chow chow!, and I think of chow mein. I wish I had a better explanation, but it’s as simple as that. I hear chow. I want chow mein.
And so I wish to share with you my quick fix to an irrational all-consuming craving.
250g Chinese noodles
2 cups pork cubes, pounded
1 tbs sesame seeds
1/2 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 cup sliced green pepper
1/2 cup sliced red pepper
1 small white onion, sliced
2 oranges, supremed and juice reserved
juice of half an orange, extra
juice of half a lime
1 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs oyster sauce
1 tbs brown sugar
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tbs fresh ginger, grated finely
So here’s how I satisfied my ¡ciao ciao! chow mein craving:
First I worked on my seasoning sauce. In a small bowl, I combined orange juice, lime juice, vegetable oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger. I set that aside and got to my noodles.
There are different ways to cook them, but for the sake of time (it was a craving, after all!) I gave them a quick boil (just a few minutes until cooked but firm) and drained them with cold water until the water ran clear. Then I put a bit of vegetable oil on my fingers and ran it through the noodles. This kept them from sticking while I worked on the pork.
I heated a large frying pan (if I had a wok here, I would’ve used that!) over medium heat. I combined the pork, sesame seeds, and vegetable oil. I browned them on all sides, in batches. Once browned, I added the onion, peppers, and all the pork to the pan. I turned up the heat a bit and gave the pan a good shake to move it all around and let it cook for just one minute before adding my seasoning mixture. Then I enjoyed watching it bubble and reduce and get all concentrated and thick and yummy! That took about 10 minutes. (I should point out that during this time I did snatch quite a bit of the noodles, which had been waiting oh so patiently on the sidelines, and pop them into my mouth. Just to you know, tide me over.)
Then I added the noodles (the noodles that remained, that is) to the pan and tossed them all around to get the sauce well distributed, and fried them for a few more minutes. I turned off the heat, tossed in the orange slices, and immediately filled three dishes. One for me, one for Mat, and one for the camera. It gets hungry, too.
Chowing down on quick and easy chow mein, my craving was officially satisfied. Until I hear another…