Sweet and spicy pork stir fry is a quick and easy weeknight dinner. It's bursting with flavors such as homemade Chinese five spice, honey, chili and sesame and it's done in just a few minutes. The pork (or chicken) and noodles get coated in the most amazing yet simple sauce.
And if you love quick dinners with noodles and pasta (who doesn't?), I can also recommend this vegetarian lo mein, rosemary sun-dried tomato pasta and a simple pad Thai. Or simply head to the category noodles and pasta for the most recent recipes!
What cut of pork is best for a stir fry?
I prefer to use a pork tenderloin, also known as pork fillet or pork tender. It's easy to cut and stays tender once cooked. It can easily dry out too though, so a marinade is perfect here. Do not confuse pork tenderloin with pork loin. Pork loin is a wider, larger cut of pork that you can actually cut into steaks. This type of cut works better for slow roasting and grilling.
You can use boneless pork chops as well. They are also low in fat and can be used interchangeably in this recipe. Because they are so lean, a marinade/brine/sauce situation is highly recommended - and obviously we have one here! Further reading: Different kinds of pork chops.
How do you cut pork tenderloin into strips?
First, you need to remove the tough silver skin. One side of the pork tenderloin will have a white skin on it. Remove it by running a bone knife in between the meat and the skin. It is also always good to slice the meat against the grain, this way the meat will be more tender.
Now all that remains is to cut it into similar sized strips. How big or small you make them doesn't really matter. You can make them super thin and they will cook equally super fast, or you can make them chunkier - all depending on preference. Just remember that bigger pieces needs more time in the pan, so it's essential that your pieces are of similar size.
This is also how we do it in this sriracha honey glazed pork.
Pork stir fry marinade and sauce
Because this is a quick pork stir fry, we aren't marinading per se, but using a very flavorful sweet and spicy sauce. Pork is a very flexible protein, as it doesn't taste all that much on itself. It is kind of like a blank canvas where we can do whatever we crave at the moment.
Today it will be Asian inspired with this sweet and spicy sauce. Pork is fabulous together with something sweet, like peaches and apples. But the sweetness can also be honey, like in this recipe. Just mix all the ingredients together, apart from the sesame oil. Sesame oil isn't great to use over high heat because of its smoking point, but it is absolutely delicious when drizzled over at the end.
What vegetables work best in a stir fry?
The short answer to this, is whatever you have in your refrigerator.
A stir fry is always a clean-out-your-fridge type of meal. And it turns out those are often the best tasting dinners too. Measurements aren't all that important either in a dish like this. So if you've got a little too little broccoli, don't sweat it, because you can use more bell pepper or onion, or simply just add a little less vegetables. It's all fine. Isn't it fantastic?
However, as a guideline, my absolute favorite vegetables to use in a stir fry are:
- Mushrooms - they soak up alll the flavor, and giving tons of umami
- Onions - any kind, but at least one kind! Yellow onion, spring onion or even leeks can work brilliantly
- Garlic - because there can never be too much garlic.
- Ginger - so flavorful! The Chinese holy trinity are spring onions, garlic and ginger for a reason.
- Chili - I love some heat! Especially in sweeter stir fries.
- Broccoli - something green and nutritious
- Red bell pepper - adds crunch and flavor
- Herbs - you can never go wrong with a sprinkle of cilantro or parsley right before serving.
Homemade Chinese Five Spice Seasoning
Another homemade seasoning to add to your portfolio!
If you've followed along, you may have noticed a trend regarding spice blends here at Ginger with Spice. Always easy to make, just combine the ingredients together and store in a sealed container. Chinese Five Spice has shockingly enough just five spices: cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise and Sichuan peppercorns.
If you haven't used Sichuan peppercorns before you are in for a treat, my friend. It is nothing like regular peppercorns, and I wouldn't substitute it with anything else.
I prefer using whole spices. This way you can dry roast them to really bring out the flavor. Add all the whole spices in a small non-stick dry pan. Over medium high heat, let it roast until fragrant. Just a minute or two. Then transfer to a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and grind until powder. If you don't have a spice grinder or don't want to get all the whole spices, you can substitute with ground spices without much loss.
Other spice blends to try:
- Shawarma Seasoning
- Middle Eastern Baharat
- Za'atar Spice Blend
- Italian Seasoning
- Fajitas Seasoning
- Indian Curry Spice Blend
- Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
- Moroccan Spices (scroll down to Moroccan stew)
- Pumpkin Pie Spice
Pick your poison! I've also made this stir fry with 1 tablespoon Jamaican jerk. It is so delicious, although you might find it weird to combine Jamaica with China, but they are actually friends in this dish. However, Chinese five spice is just extra yummy.
A quick and easy weeknight dinner, bursting with sweet and spicy and warming spices. Comfort dinner that works all year around. Scroll down to find the instructions in a printable recipe card. Enjoy!
Did you like this Pork Stir Fry Recipe? Here's more quick dinners I think you'll like:
- 20 Minute Vegetarian Lo Mein
- 25 Minute Rosemary Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta with Chicken
- Easy Sheet Pan Fajitas
- Creamy Pasta Salad with Chorizo
- Ginger Lentil Coconut Curry
- Curry Coconut Carrot Soup
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