Hot and Sour Pork with Cabbage

The weather people have been hyperventilating about the season’s first snow. Oh, I just can’t wait!  Especially after last year.  And then I woke up this morning and it was snowing vigorously!  Mind you, it was only about a quarter of an inch, but it was still hanging around ominously when I get home this evening.

I have been wanting to make this dish for some time. I had the ingredients in my refrigerator, but somehow it always got too late when I came home from work to start chopping cabbage and trimming pork tenderloin.  I usually eat a bit later, but 10 p.m. is a little late to sit down with a substantial dinner dish.  Then I got a useful idea sparked by a memory of visiting China many years ago. I noticed that instead of buying prepared foods, people were stopping on their way home from work to buy fresh cut-up vegetables. The shops displayed various combinations of chopped vegetables in their windows. I suppose these were combinations that could be made into popular dishes. A person could buy these chopped fresh vegetables, pick up a small bit of meat, and go home to make a quick home-cooked meal that had their own spices and flavorings.  How practical.  So I trimmed and cut up the pork and chopped up the cabbage and green onions the night before, putting them in separate bags in the refrigerator. Ready to go when I got home the next day.

The preparation of this dish is quick once you get through the chopping, which actually didn’t take all that long.  It is one of those dishes where it is best to prepare all the ingredients in advance, so that you can add them quickly at the proper point as you cook. I combined the pork with the garlic since they were added at the same time, and had all the other ingredients mixed and at the ready.

hot and sour babbage ingrr

I warn you that this dish is quite hot – great for a chilly day with %#$!# snow on the ground  You are adding two sources of heat: white pepper which is actually very hot and Sriracha sauce wihich is even hotter.  I was a bit fearful of adding a tablespoon of Sriracha, a hot chile sauce, because I had a traumatic experience with Sriracha once, where I added too much and ruined an entire pot of chili. But I plunged ahead, and it was hot, but not inedible.  Also, I don’t really see how this was sour at all.  There was no sour element like lemon juice involved. It was quite tasty – and hot.

Hot and Sour Pork with Cabbage

1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of all fat  and cut into strips
1 Tablespoon cornstarch, divided
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon water
1/2 cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon Sriracha (hot chile sauce); use less if you’re timid – you can always add more
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tablespoon peanut oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds coarsely chopped green cabbage
1/3 cup chopped green onions

Combine pork, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, white pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; set aside. (Whisk the dry ingredients well before you add the pork so you don’t get a piece of pork with a high concentration of white pepper, says the voice of experience) Put minced garlic in same bowl as pork, but don’t mix it in.

Combine remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl; set aside.

Combine ketchup and next 3 ingredients (through soy sauce) in a small bowl; set aside.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork mixture and garlic; sauté 2 minutes or until pork is no longer pink on the outside. Remove pork from pan; set aside.

Add cabbage; sauté 2 minutes. Here is the point where the cooking became a bit frenetic. I cooked this (as I cook almost everything that isn’t soup) in a large flat-bottomed wok. Two pounds of chopped cabbage came to the very top of the wok. The heat was on medium high and I was stir-frying like mad trying to keep the bottom pieces from burning.  The cabbage was not cooking down, and pieces kept leaping out of the pan as I stirred. I was going to take a picture of the cabbage, but I was frantically trying to keep the flying cabbage pieces from landing in the flame below and setting the whole kitchen on fire. I finally added 2 tablespoons of water and stirred mightily. This had the salutary effect of loosening the browned bits of pork and garlic from the bottom of the pan and creating steam to soften the cabbage.  I heartily recommend this procedure.  Crisis averted and house fire prevented, I continued on with the recipe.

Add ketchup mixture; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in pork; sauté about 1 minute. Stir in cornstarch mixture; cook 30 seconds or until a bit thicker. Remove pan from heat; stir in onions. This made four tummy-warming servings at about 8 grams of fat/serving.  At first, I didn’t even make rice for it to go over. I ate it with a fat slice of French bread to sop up the juice.

hot and sour cabbage

The original recipe was from Cooking Light, and although the Sriracha sauce hinted at Asian origins, this did not seem to have that flavor orientation. Later, when talking to a friend, she thought that cabbage, pork, hot and sour sounded Russian, or at least Eastern European, so next time I served it over noodles.

hot cabbage on noodles


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I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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