Cashew nut is a popular ingredient for Chinese-style stir fries and I have often wondered if the popularity was due to its accessibility rather than some unique flavor or texture that it possessed. What if I used some other nut… like pili nuts? You know what? If you toast the pili nuts until they release their natural oil before sprinkling them over your cooked stir-fry, it’s some kind of magic. :)
The pili nuts I used are the ones found in supermarkets, salted and ready to eat.
300 grams of cooked (boiled) pork, cooled to room temperature
1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 head of cauliflower
1 head of broccoli
light soy sauce
tapioca or corn starch
salt and pepper
3-4 tbsps. of vegetable cooking oil
1/2 c. of pili nuts
Cooking procedure :
Cut the pork into small pieces, about 1/4-inch thick.
Peel and dice the onion. Crush, peel and finely chop the garlic. Trim the cauliflower and broccoli and cut into florets.
Season the meat broth with light soy sauce, oyster sauce and lots of freshly ground pepper. When you’re satisfied with the way it tastes, add the starch and stir to dissolve. How much depends on how much sauce you want in your stir fry. As a guide, I always use 1 tablespoonful of starch for every cup of liquid.
Add the chopped garlic to the sauce and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and is no longer cloudy. Turn down the heat and continue cooking for a minute or two longer. In the past, I didn’t cook the sauce separately but there had been times when the starch was not thoroughly cooked and left a powdery sensation in the mouth. To make sure that doesn’t happen, I have turned to cooking the sauce separately. So, when the sauce is done, cover it and keep hot.
Place the pili nuts in a small oil-free frying pan and cook over medium heat until lightly browned and shiny. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan or wok. Add the pork, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook over high heat until lightly browned. Add the onions, cauliflower and broccoli and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Watch out that you don’t overcook the vegetables — you want them crisp but not raw. I know that it’s easier said than done and it does take a while to learn to identify that exact stage when vegetables are just right in a stir fried dish. If you’re making a stir fried dish for the first time, it might not turn out perfectly (I ruined a lot of stir fries before I got the hang of it) but, with practice and patience, you’ll be a wiz.
So, when the vegetables are done, pour in the sauce, stir and cook just until the sauce starts to bubble. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle the toasted pili nuts on top and serve hot with rice. You know, my husband hasn’t been eating rice lately (he says he’s on a diet) but he loved this stir fry so much he had two helpings. :)