Five Spice Pork Stir Fry

Five Spice Pork Stir Fry

Stir fry is an easy weeknight dish which comes together almost as quickly as takeout.  Better yet, this particular stir fry is filled with crunchy, nutritious green vegetables.  So, it is packed with vitamins that are bound to help you stay fit and healthy.

On a cool day, I find the fragrance of five spice wafting through the house supremely comforting.  It is a bit like an aromatic hug, which inevitably reminds me of my favorite Chinese meals.  The aroma of five spice powder in my grinder is what inspired me to write this recipe.

This dish is not strictly Chinese.  Nonetheless, I believe a Chinese cook would be pleased with it, because the recipe strikes all the right sensory notes.

Many people don’t realize that the Chinese are as finicky as the French when it comes to food.  They are great gourmets and proper Chinese cooking is governed by a set of strict rules.

Following these rules ensures the diner sensory pleasures on all levels.  When a good Chinese cook plans a dish, the visual interplay of shapes and colors is considered.  All ingredients are cut into similar shapes and sizes.  Texture and fragrance also play an important role.  Certain foods, such as water chestnuts or tree ears, are added to a dish for texture alone.

The Recipe

In this recipe, I used pork tenderloin, because it is both lean and inexpensive.  However, you could easily use another cut of pork for this recipe, as long as you trim off the fat.

Cutting the meat correctly is very important.  This particular recipe calls for thin strips, measuring 1/2 cm wide, and 4 cm long.  For optimal results, I suggest freezing the pork for about 10 minutes prior to cutting it.

In addition, do sharpen your knife.  Nothing is more dangerous in any kitchen than a dull knife!


The beauty of many Chinese recipes is that they are templates.  You can substitute other meats, as well as vegetables. For instance, chicken breast would be every bit as tasty as pork in this stir fry.

If you wish to vary the vegetables, I suggest sticking with the original color scheme (green).  Here are a few vegetables I think would taste good.  However, please feel free to experiment with your own ideas as well, always remembering to keep it seasonal.

  • brussel sprouts
  • green beans
  • kale
  • broccoli


Five Spice Pork Stir Fry

Five Spice Pork Stir Fry
Jeanette Marie
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Prep Time:  30 minutes - Cook Time:  15 minutes Servings:  6

This nutritious, green stir fry is perfect for busy weeknights. It comes together in under an hour and will fill your kitchen with the intoxicating aroma of five spice powder.

    The meat
  • 250 g (9 oz) pork tenderloin, cut into thin strips 1/2 cm wide x 4 cm long
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon black vinegar
    The veggies
  • 400 g (14 oz) bean sprouts, rinsed and picked over
  • 250 g (9 oz) baby bok choy, quartered, and cut widthwise into strips
  • 1/4 Chinese (napa) cabbage, cored and cut widthwise into 1/2 cm wide strips
  • 220 g (8 oz) snow peas (mangetout), trimmed and cut into 1/2 cm wide strips
  • 1 bunch green onions (whites and greens), trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 5 cm piece ginger, minced
  • 2 teaspoons crushed garlic
    For the sauce
  • 1 tablespoon five spice powder
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch
    For cooking
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil

  1. Slice the pork and toss with the dark soy sauce and black vinegar to combine. Cover and set aside.
  2. Prepare all the vegetables according to the ingredient list, arranging them in separate bowls, as follows. Bean sprouts in one bowl. Green onions in another (reserving 1/4 cup of greens for garnish). Ginger and garlic in a third. Baby bok choy, Chinese cabbage, and snow peas in a fourth.
  3. Combine sauce ingredients in a large measuring cup, stirring to combine thoroughly and eliminate any cornstarch lumps.
  4. Heat your wok over high heat.
  5. When oil is fragrant and shimmering, add meat to the wok, tossing as you go. Continue tossing the meat until it is cooked through and most of the juices have evaporated (3-4 minutes). Push the meat up the sides of the wok to create a well in the center.
  6. Add the garlic and ginger to the center of the wok, turning constantly for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.
  7. Add the bok choy, cabbage, and snow peas to the center of the wok along with the garlic and ginger. Toss constantly for 2-3 minutes or until a few minutes shy of being fully cooked. Then push the vegetables up the sides of the wok to join the meat.
  8. Give the sauce a good stir and pour it into the well at the center of the wok. Allow to cook until the sauce bubbles vigorously and is slightly thickened.
  9. Then, quickly toss the meat and vegetables through the sauce.
  10. Add the bean sprouts and the green onions to the wok, tossing through for a minute or two. (Bean sprouts should be crisp tender, limp ones are overcooked.)
  11. Remove from heat. Garnish with reserved green onions and serve over steamed rice.

Dark Soy Sauce: Chinese cooks usually use dark soy sauce for color, as well as depth of flavor. However, if you only have light soy sauce on hand, you can easily substitute.

Black Vinegar: Black vinegar has a sweetish flavor which is prominent in hot and sour soup. Its flavor is unique. However, if you do not have any available where you live, you could use balsamic vinegar instead.

Peanut Oil: Chinese cooks prefer peanut oil for its flavor. However, you can substitute canola oil in a pinch.

Nutrition label for Five Spice Pork Stir Fry

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