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A recipe for Pork and Green Garlic Chives in Lettuce Cups

May 22, 2010|By LYNNE CHAR BENNETT/San Francisco Chronicle

Other than salt and pepper, garlic and onions are the two ingredients that bridge almost all cuisines. Both members of the allium family, they contain volatile sulfurous compounds that contribute aromas as well as flavors to food.

Chives, another family member, have a milder, more delicate onion flavor, and garlic chives (also called Chinese chives or Chinese leeks) combine the characteristic aroma and flavor of garlic with the subtlety of chives.

Asian markets and some well-stocked supermarkets carry green garlic chives (there is also a pale yellow variety), which can sometimes stand in for the garlic-onion duo. The mild garlic flavor and the slight bite of onion of these long, flat, grass-like blades make them great to use in omelets, soups and stir-fries. One classic use is in the filling for dim-sum-type dumplings.

This recipe for Pork & Green Garlic Chives in Lettuce Cups incorporates garlic chives for color as well as restrained garlic/onion-y character.

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PORK WITH GARLIC CHIVES
IN LETTUCE CUPS



o Serves 6

Though this Chinese-style pork filling would be at home in a steamed dumpling or potsticker, here it is served in a lettuce wrap, which is faster and easier than folding a dumpling -- and saves a few calories as well.

1 pound lean ground pork
1-1/4 teaspoons Asian-style toasted sesame oil
4 teaspoons Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 large dried shiitake mushrooms
3 to 4 fresh water chestnuts (see Note)
4 to 5 ounces Chinese long beans or haricot verts
3 ounces Chinese green garlic chives
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce, or to taste
1 to 2 small limes, zest and juice (as needed)
1 large green onion, thinly sliced on the diagonal, about 1/3 cup

1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cool water
Kosher salt to taste
2 heads butter lettuce, leaves cleaned and separated
Chopped cilantro to garnish

Mix pork with 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil, 1 teaspoon fish sauce and 2 teaspoons soy sauce. Cover and refrigerate.

Rehydrate the shiitakes in hot water to cover. When softened, cut off and discard the tough stems; rinse off any remaining grit and finely dice the mushrooms (you should have about 1/3 cup). Strain mushroom soaking water through a coffee filter, and reserve it.

Peel water chestnuts and chop finely (you should have about 1/3 cup), then place in cool water to cover; set aside. Cut beans crosswise into 1/4- to 3/8-inch pieces. The recipe can be prepared ahead to this point.

Pick through garlic chives to remove any that are not pristine; rinse, then cut crosswise into 1/4- to 3/8-inch pieces.

Add the canola oil to a skillet or wok over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the pork, breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon, and cook until no pink remains. Transfer to a bowl.

Discard most of the oil from the skillet, leaving just enough to coat. Add beans and mushrooms, and cook briefly, just until the beans start to turn dark green but still retain crunch, about 30 seconds.

Return the pork to the pan, along with the remaining 3 teaspoons fish sauce, 4 teaspoons soy sauce, 1/4 teaspoon sesame-seed oil, the oyster sauce, Sriracha and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Add the green onion and garlic chives; cook briefly to reheat pork, and slowly stir in cornstarch slurry to thicken.

Add reserved mushroom water if needed for desired consistency. Stir in water chestnuts and a couple pinches of lime zest, then taste. Season with salt, lime juice and lime zest, as desired.

To serve, spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons pork into lettuce cups; garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Note: Do not use canned water chestnuts. If you can't find fresh water chestnuts, substitute 1/2 cup minced fresh jicama.

Per serving: 223 calories, 16 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, 15 g fat (5 g saturated), 53 mg cholesterol, 656 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.

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