Quick stir-fried pork with peppers, carrots & cashews

This is one of those dishes I make when I have bits of vegetables left in the fridge, a few peppers about to wilt, a carrot, bits of ginger, fresh chillis etc. It can take anything that is crunchy after stir-frying and the meat can be beef or pork. I use Ken Hom’s marinade from Chinese Cookery, which I don’t think would work that well with chicken.

Tonight I used what was in the fridge:
1 yellow pepper chopped into square chunks
1 small carrot roll cut
2 fresh red chilli finely chopped
1 1/2 inch fresh ginger finely chopped
1 large pork steak cut into strips
1 small onion sliced lengthways
1 clove garlic finelly chopped
handful of cashew nuts ideally roasted or dry-fried beforehand
(other ingredients I could have used from my cupboard – canned water chesnuts or bamboo shoots)

Marinade:
1 tsp cornflour
2 tsp Shaoxing wine
2 tsp soya sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt

Cut the meat in narrow strips 1 1/2 inch long, mix well with the marinade and set aside in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Heat groundnut oil in a wok until smokes and flash fry chilli, garlic and ginger for a minute. Add meat and continue to fry it on high, for about 2-3 minutes or until you can’t see any raw or pink bits. Add the chopped vegetables and cook for another 2 minutes or longer – reaching the fine line between the meat being done and the vegetables still being crispy. If things look a bit dry, I add several squirts of catsup, the asian brown variety – I bought mine at local M&S and it’s called Kecap Manis (can’t find it anywhere online).

I normally serve this with basmati rice (Waitrose aromatic), adding turmeric to the boiling water for colour. I find jasmine tea to be the best drink accompanying chinese food in general.

Baked pears with ginger and cardamom

A wonderful dessert (from the Sunday Times magazine) for those times you don’t want to make anything too heavy or have only a few minutes to prepare. The most important about this is the right size of the tin, as pears need to be close together so all the buttery, cardamomy and gingery goodness permeates through them.

4 pears, peeled, halved and cored
75g dark brown sugar
4 tbsp runny honey
1½ tsp ground ginger (I used fresh ginger, thinly sliced using a grater)
Juice and finely grated zest of ½ lemon
4 tbsp unsalted butter
8 cardamom pods, squashed

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Put the pear halves in a small roasting pan, cut side down and in a single layer, so they fit relatively snugly. Sprinkle with the sugar, honey, ginger, lemon juice and zest. Dot with the butter and tuck in the cardamom pods.

Put the pan in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, turning the pears cut side up and basting halfway through, until the fruit is tender and the sauce is bubbling and sweet. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then serve with cream, ice cream or yoghurt.