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Stir-fried Pork with Pattypan Squash and Garlic Scapes

My wok has been yearning for seasonal vegetables. Since my bedroom door opens right into the kitchen, I can hear the wok at night, crying for fresh foods soon to go out of season and disappear until next spring.

I can’t sleep with a crying wok just a few yards away from my head. Something had to be done.

Okay, I confess: What really happened is that I told Dave that I wanted to make a quick ‘n easy stir-fry for dinner. He went out shopping and came back with all these wonderful colorful pattypan squashes and a bag of twistytasty garlic scapes. I think it was his idea of a compromise – I like pattypan squash more than he does, but garlic scapes are his favorite vegetable, bar none. He did all the chopping, then handed the bowls of ingredients over to me.

I’m generally the one who does all stir-frying at our place, as it turns out. He gets to do all deep-frying, and most of the broiling of steaks. I tend to bake cookies, he tends to bake breads. It’s been fascinating to see how we delineate kitchen tasks over time. For those of you who share a kitchen with a partner, do you split up areas of cooking like this, too?

I love the layered timing of stir-frying. I love the fast terror of it. I like to tell people that if they’re not afraid when stir-frying, they probably have the heat down too low. Be afraid! Revel in the adrenaline rush of cooking your dinner!

I love the different textures of the elements in this dish. I cooked the pork fairly rare, so it remained very tender. The scapes were just on the good side of the line between crisp and woody. The squash was tender and crisp all at once, a middle ground between the other two main ingredients.

With good ingredients, everything here is so flavorful that it just doesn’t need much in the way of seasonings to bring it to life. After all, it’s basically early summer on a plate. (Shh, it still feels like early summer to me, since garlic scapes have been available so late in the season.) Which makes it the perfect entry for La Festa Al Fresco 2007.

Stir-fried Pork with Pattypan Squash and Garlic Scapes
Safflower oil (peanut or canola oil would be fine instead)
4 cloves garlic, minced
An equivalent quantity of ginger, grated
1/2 lb pork tenderloin, cut into bite-sized chunks
3-4 medium pattypan squash, coarsely chopped
A large handful of chopped garlic scapes (about 1″-2″ inches long)
Shaoxing rice wine
Dark Chinese soy sauce
Sesame oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat up your wok until it starts to smoke. Do not be afraid, and do not turn down the heat. Add in some of the safflower oil and swirl it around to cover the bottom. Throw in the garlic and ginger and stir-fry quickly for just a moment, until the scent of them hits you.

Add the pork in one layer and walk away for a minute to let it brown. Really, get away from the wok and let it work its magic. Then go back and stir-fry until the pork is browned and mostly cooked. Remove the pork and set it aside.

Add in a touch more oil if necessary, then add the garlic scapes and stir-fry until they are dark green and somewhat charred. Remove and set them aside.

Again, add a little more oil if you must, then add the squash and stir-fry it until it, too, just barely starts to char. Each step should take you a very short time.

Once the squash is ready, stir the pork and scapes back in. Add a splash of Shaoxing and a smaller splash of dark Chinese soy sauce, and stir-fry for a moment. Turn off the heat, and stir in a drizzle of sesame oil.

Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and serve with rice or somen.

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8 Responses to “Stir-fried Pork with Pattypan Squash and Garlic Scapes”

  1. tw says:

    Funny. D and I cross lines a lot, but there are a few very definite ones.

    She bakes rye bread, I don’t (so by default, I’m now baking just about all of our other breads).

    I bake the complicated cakes (but she helps, because sometimes you just need that third hand), and cook Chinese (because it makes my ancestors cry to see the way she cooks rice).

  2. nex0s says:

    I do it all – but he CLEANS it all!!! I think when we have a bigger kitchen, he’ll help me cook sometimes, but right now it is really too too tiny for more than one person.


  3. Yvo says:

    Hehehe…. this reminds me of that article in … New York Times, was it? A few months ago or so, they had an article about how some men were taking over kitchens and belittling/scaring the women into thinking they were bad at cooking etc. Not to say Dave is like that, but it was talking about drawing lines in the kitchen and how sometimes it just doesn’t work to have two personalities in the kitchen.
    As for myself – I’m with N. He cleans, I cook. He can’t cook to save his life, has no interest in learning and for now, just wants to eat what I make, which is fine by me s’long as he keeps cleaning. ;)
    PS This looks yummy! What’s a garlic scape? Does it have other names – I can’t remember where but I just read a recipe somewhere the other day that had an interesting greenbean looking thing that was named garlic-something else.
    PPS Umm… why does the way she washes rice make your ancestors cry? IS THERE A WRONG WAY??? =X

  4. Lisa says:

    Oh man.. why couldn’t you have posted this yesterday? :P

    I had a pork tenderloin for dinner last night and didn’t know what the hell to do with it.. so I just roasted it and whipped up a maple/balsamic glaze. Was good, but this looks outstanding!

    Thank you so much for bringing it to the Festa! ;)

    I do 100% of the cooking/baking/cleaning in the summer – his job is to take care of the yard.. but in the winter, I’d say he probably cooks 40% of the time (his job is seasonal so he’s home more in the winter). His forte is soups, stews, chowders – practically anything you can eat with a spoon. har! In the winter he always cleans up, even after I cook.. so it’s really nice for me.

    Now.. if I could only get him to learn how to bake bread.. :D


  5. Ivonne says:

    Perfect, indeed!

    Do you know that I’ve NEVER had pattypan squash. In fact, I’ve only ever seen them at the farmer’s market and that was only recently. But this dish is so beautiful that I have to try them. Thanks so much, Danielle!

  6. Danielle says:

    tw – I’m with Yvo in wondering what the wrong way to cook rice could possibly be! (Actually, I usually make Dave cook rice. I feel like I always screw it up.)

    N – Sounds like a great division of labor!

    Yvo – I remember that article. I thought it was interesting, but very far removed from my personal experience. My guy friends all cook with me very well. Garlic scapes are easy to find at the greenmarkets early in the summer, though they’re almost gone by now. They’re what farmers cut off the garlic plants so that the bulbs will grow more. They are so very tasty!

    Lisa – Oh dear. Sorry about that! Also, mmmm, chowder. Dave’s a total bread-making fiend. He’s on a quest to learn to make bread from first principles.

    Ivonne – I find pattypans to be on the sweet side for summer squash, which I’m really into.

  7. Danielle, I have never seen or heard of those two veggie before-pattypans squash and garlic scapes, but they sure look pretty and colorful. :)

  8. deinin says:

    I, too, have yet to experience either of those vegetables, but they both sound like stuff I’d REALLY like. Mmm.

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August 2007
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