Spicy Pea Salad with Chipotle Glazed Pork

I have been trying half-heartedly to organize my cooking, but I think it’s hopeless.  If it wasn’t for my memory, which is better than good, I’d be screwed.  Of course, maybe I am screwed and I just haven’t figured it out yet.  That would be why my fridge is packed with science experiments.  Why my freezer(s) have food in them I don’t recognize. 

You probably know the routine:  It’s the weekend.  You have some time to sit and relax and wonder about what might be on the "Chez You" dinner for the upcoming week.  You have all those cookbooks, some food magazines, eight trillion bookmarks from foodblogs at your beck and call — what could be more perfect?  So you settle in with your recipes, some stickies, and a pen.  Oh, and a beverage.  You see this, and that, and drool over all the possibilities.  But do you actually make a decision about what will be cooked past Monday?  Is there a grocery list?  Um.  Nope.  Let’s just call it best laid plans and move along.

Regardless, I have been better about using food I have, and cutting down on left overs.  Or when I have left overs, actually do something with them.  You know, something the guys can’t live without.  Something that causes them to wander to the kitchen, mindless, and wanting to sit down to eat.

Okay, so maybe not.  But I can say this meal comes close.  And (hang on to your shorts now..) not only does it feature leftovers, but it revisits a recipe I made not too long ago: Pea Shoot Salad with Bacon & Lime.  Will wonders never cease?  I didn’t think so.  It’s those pea shoots.  I love them.  I don’t know if it’s because they’re new and different to me, or that they have a perfect crunch when I bite into a fork full.  Maybe it’s the contrast of textures between the shoots and the tangy bite of the dressing.   

Trying to recover from an excess of Cheesecake Pops?

Dig into this.

Spicy Pea Salad with Chipotle Glazed Pork for Three

3 T extra virgin olive oil

2 T fresh lime juice

1/2 tsp grated lime zest

1 T Asian fish sauce

1 T chili oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 lb. snow peas

1/4 snap peas, cut into diagonal pieces

3 c. pea shoots

1 spring onion, bulb sliced thin

3-4 lg. basil leaves, torn (about 1/4 c.)

2 T torn mint leaves

3 left-over pieces chipotle glazed pork from this recipe

Make the dressing:
  In a small jar with a lid, combine olive oil, lime juice, zest, fish sauce, and chili oil.  Put the lid on, and shake vigorously.  Season with salt and pepper, shake some more, and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine vegetables with your hands.  The pea shoots are a bit unwieldy, so this seems to work best.  Give the dressing another shake and then drizzle on a bit, just to moisten the greens. 

Pop the pork into the microwave and heat on half power for about 1-1/2 minutes.  With microwaves, I always prefer lower "heat" for more time, and the amount of time cooked will be dependent upon your microwave.  Alternately, you could spray a skillet with Pam, and over medium high heat, quickly fry the pork.  The goal would be not to dry it out since it’s already been cooked once, so I prefer to use the microwave.

Slice a piece of pork for each plate, then arrange some of the pea salad alongside.  Drizzle dressing over and serve.


Notes:  This pea salad is inspired by Chef Ratha Chau’s Crunchy Asian Pea Salad with Honeyed Bacon which is extremely good.  The recipe is easily adaptable — both dressing, and salad.  Protein or no protein, I love the combination of flavors in this.  When you make the dressing as written above, consider also adding some ingredients in the original recipe intended for the bacon:  2 T honey, 1 T soy sauce, 1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder.  It sweetens it, and adds a nice contrast to the pea shoots.

Fish Sauce:  If you turned your nose up when you saw fish sauce in the ingredients list, I get it.  It just doesn’t sound appetizing.  But it’s no different than the idea of adding anchovies to salad dressing, or for that matter Worcestershire sauce.  Does anyone really know what’s in that stuff?  Do we want to know?  What I do know is that it adds flavor to my recipes. Regardless, there are lots of varieties of fish sauce — including a Basque variety.  I haven’t tried that with this recipe, and since I’m not a fish sauce expert, I can’t say whether that would work for this recipe.  Fish sauce is a thin, salty, rich flavored mixture that actually isn’t very sauce-like at all.  It is often used as a dipping sauce as well as an ingredient in Asian cuisine.

If you can’t find pea shoots (and it wasn’t easy for me the first time…) then a salad with greens you enjoy, with sprouts that have a bit of a bite would be nice.  Radishes are good, too.  I may have snuck some spicy Asian salad greens into this, but I honestly can’t remember.  The point would be to create the combination you’ll enjoy.  Experiment and have fun.

For the protein, if you choose to add that, and you don’t want to marinate the pork, then chicken, shrimp, or pork right from the fridge briefly marinated in 2 T honey, 1 T soy sauce, and 1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder, then grilled or broiled would work just fine.  In fact, that would be what the original recipe suggests, except for with bacon.  And if you’re in the mood, or can afford the calories, it’s really tasty.