Stir-Fried Pork and Leeks

This is the classical way to stir fry pork or any other meat really. Pork is most commonly consumed in Singapore – or was. Pigs were easily kept on small holdings and ate everything so kept the place clean. Chickens were much the same.

Esther Chan's estimable book of instructions

Esther Chan’s estimable book of instructions

When we lived in Singapore, my father had a cook book that had been published for the white colonial population. The author was one Esther Chan and the book was called Chinese Cookery Secrets. Published 1952.

Eventually I ended up with the book on my bookshelf and I have cooked many meals according to Esther’s dictates between its covers. Which means the book is stained and the cover has disengaged itself. Makes an authentic photo though.

The food that we in the West are used to considering as Chinese food is actually not much like traditional Chinese food at all. The Chinese, after assessing their potential clientele in the West, proceeded to cook food that was acceptable to the western palate.

I was googling ‘leek and pork’ to surf through some recipes and came across a recipe that could nearly have been lifted from Esther Chan’s culinary collection. It was, however a pared down version and I have built it back up again and would probably receive a nod from Esther.
Preparing meat for stir frying and then eating with chopsticks means that the meat must be thinly sliced across the grain and marinated for up to an hour. The marinade is always geared to produce a chemical reaction with the meat by starting an enzyme action to break down the muscle fibres. The base ingredients of the marinade are usually the same with added variations depending on the type of meat and what will be accompanying it on the table.

This recipe uses leeks because that’s what I had in the fridge. There is usually only one vegetable in these sorts of dishes and you can use celery, bamboo shoots, onions, mushrooms, French beans or pea sprouts. That is taken straight from Esther’s book!

So, let’s cook! This is enough for one person. Two if you aren’t starving. And in any case, rice is a good filler. Wheat is first, maize is second and rice is third in the carbohydrate stakes worldwide, I believe. Stats vary a little. Use plain steamed rice as an accompaniment or whatever you fancy. This particular meal will be accompanied by macaroni cheese because that’s what WW would like tonight.


1 boneless pork chop, just frozen (to make slicing easy) and sliced into 2” by small slivered strips. This makes the meat brown quickly before losing moisture.
½tsp sesame oil
1 egg, beaten. I agree with Esther that the egg makes a big difference to the cooking texture. The recipe I came across today neglected this.
1tbsp dark soy and 1tbsp Kikkoman soy sauces
½tbsp cornflour
½tsp sugar
1tbsp rice wine or sherry. A piquancy that is rewarding at the end. Again, today’s googled recipe didn’t mention this.
1 clove garlic minced
2tbsp oil for cooking. I used Chinese cooking oil that has sesame oil included. Very good.
1 leek white and soft green parts sliced thinly on the diagonal (to increase the surface area so that the leeks become fragrant quickly and wilt releasing moisture into the dish)

How to:

Give the marinade an hour if you have the time

Give the marinade an hour if you have the time

Combine the pork strips, sesame oil, soy sauces, cornflower, egg, sugar, garlic and wine in a bowl and let stand for an hour if you have the time. I added a chopped sage leaf from the garden as well. 20 mins is the least amount of time needed to marinate.


Quick frying is the key

Quick frying is the key

Fry the leek slices quickly in the heated wok with 1tbsp oil for about 1 minute. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Heat the wok again and add remaining oil and coat the bottom and sides of the wok. Add the pork mixture and cook about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the reserved leeks and cook, constantly tossing, for about a minute or until just tender. The dish I have served the food in is a dish from the 1940s, as is the rattan place setting and the chopsticks I have had since 1967. Makes me smile.

Tasty, easily consumed with a smile

Tasty, easily consumed with a smile

Serve with plain steamed rice or whatever you fancy. Just keep the different ingredients separate from each other so as to fully appreciate the different flavours.


3 responses to “Stir-Fried Pork and Leeks

  1. Pingback: Stir-Fried Pork and Leeks | Mouthful still talking

  2. looks really nice! will def try 🙂

  3. It tastes gorgeous! Enjoy 🙂

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