There is this Chinese restaurant in San Jose which is my go-to place whenever I crave for salt and pepper pork chops. As soon as I am seated, the lady server/cashier/owner rolled into one brings me a glass of iced water and a pot of hot tea. Then she says,”Salt and pepper pork chops with an order of steamed rice?”
It has become my routine order that if I ever craved for a different Chinese dish, I’d be better off going elsewhere because it would only seriously disappoint the Chinese lady. My order comes in such a huge serving that I always end up taking the rest in a takeout box for my next day lunch.
It turns out that I would be the one who will be very disappointed because one day, after being a weekly customer at this restaurant, it had closed, for good!
And so, when I have that craving, I now have no choice but to cook it in my own kitchen. So with a little tweak here and there (like using coconut oil to fry the pork chops), I have become my own master in salt and pepper cooking.
1 lb pork belly (or butt) sliced about 1/3 inch thick and about about 3 inches across
1 ½ tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sesame oil
Pinch of 5 spice powder (optional)
¼ cup all purpose flour
2 tbsps cornstarch
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 1/2 tbsps Olive oil
3 tbsps water
3 cups coconut oil for frying
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 long hot green peppers, sliced crosswise into thin rounds
1 long hot red pepper, sliced crosswise into thin rounds
½ tsp coarse sea salt
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Combine the pork, cooking wine, 1/2 tsp salt, sesame oil and 5-spice powder in a large bowl and use your hands to mix and coat the pork evenly. Let sit at least 15 minutes. In another bowl, mix the flour, cornstarch, 1/8 tsp white pepper, Olive oil, and water until you get a loose batter. Transfer the marinated pork into the batter and mix until the all pork pieces are well-coated.
Heat the coconut oil in a small sauce pot to about 250 degrees, or until you put in a piece of garlic and it bubbles a little. Toss in the garlic and cook for about 309 seconds. Scoop it out onto a paper towel to drain.
Heat the oil to 380 degrees, fry the pork in batches until golden brown, and place on a paper towel to drain. Once all pieces are done, heat your wok over very high heat until smoking. Add the green and red peppers, and sea salt to the wok and toss for about 15-30 seconds until fragrant. Turn off the heat, and add the pork chops and the fried garlic. Toss everything together. Sprinkle green onions and sesame seeds over the mixture. Serve immediately with white rice!