Woohoo! I finally got a new rice cooker from my brother this week! And to celebrate, I decided to make one of T's favorite meals: Stir-fried Celery Pork, or as he likes to refer to it, "CelPo" - yes, insert eye-rolling here.
A little backstory: I think my mom made this dish at least once a week when I was a kid, to the point where I got really really sick of it and never wanted to eat it again. Of course, after I grew up and moved out on my own, I totally forgot about it until a few years ago when T & I were visiting my mom and she made this. He freaked out over how good it was, so I started making it at home, and now it's part of our regular rotation.
This is actually super duper easy to make and you can make a million variations of it to suit your own personal tastes. You could easily use chicken instead of pork. A friend of mine adds ginger and fresh garlic. My mom always used to put sliced carrots in hers. I added sliced onions this time, which I didn't used to throw in there, but I like the flavor it adds.
OK, so to start you need some pork. I usually use about 1 1/2 lbs. pork loin or loin chops. This time I had a bunch of pork "brisket" pieces that we got from Costco and needed to be cooked up, so I used that instead. Whatever cut you use, you want something that's going to be fairly tender since it's not going to be cooked for a long time. So take your pork and cut it into bite size chunks.
Put your cut up pork in a bowl and add soy sauce, a pinch of sugar, a sprinkle of garlic powder, and some cornstarch; mix it all up, preferably by hand. Now I usually eyeball it, but since I knew I was going to post it, I tried to measure out the amounts. I used roughly 1/8 cup of soy sauce and about 2 heaping teaspoons of corn starch. Basically, you want enough soy to coat everything without being soupy at the bottom, and not so much corn starch that the mixture seems dry. You could also use onion powder instead of or in addition to the garlic powder. This is pretty much the standard "marinade" my mom and I use for meat all our stir-frys.
Next cut an onion in half along the stem and then slice into thin half-rings. I usually use half a medium to large onion, but I had a lot of meat this time, so I used the whole thing. Again, this is optional and you can adjust the amount to taste.
Chop up an entire head of celery - I think it comes out to around 3-4 cups?
Heat a large skillet or wok on high - you want it very VERY hot, almost smoking. Then add a couple tablespoons of oil (I used canola) and add the meat. You want to get a nice brown sear on all sides of the meat, sorta like this.
Then I add my secret ingredient. It's a dark mushroom soy sauce, which can be found at most Asian grocery stores. The dark color gives everything a richer flavor and color. Even if you don't like mushrooms, don't worry because it doesn't actually taste like mushrooms, at least not to me. And my mushroom-hating husband has never really noticed it either.
If you can't find it, no worries, just add a few tablespoons of regular soy sauce. Then add your onions, and let those cook for a few minutes.
Now add the celery, give everything a good stir and then cover and let it cook for 5-6 minutes.
You want to the celery to be tender, but still have a bit of bite to it. This is more or less what it will look like. The best part? It makes its own sauce! Yum!
The amount of sauce you'll get depends on what veggies you have in there, but I find I get more sauce when I use onions. And now a shot of the first batch from my glorious new rice cooker.
T was so excited for this meal, he did a little "CelPo dance."
I serve this in a shallow bowl directly on top of the rice, usually with an extra spoonful or two of the sauce, and then just mix everything together and eat. Both T and I sorta made pigs of ourselves last night (no pun intended). I'm so glad to have a rice cooker back in the house. I feel like all is right in the world again.