Fusion cuisine may have more recently morphed into “mashups,” but if we’re honest, incorporating the signature flavors of foreign cuisines is the American culinary way.
Where would we be today without a crazy quilt of cheesy pizzas, Tex-Mex tacos and Asian stir-fries, let alone sesame-crusted tuna and wasabi mashed potatoes?
Thai Pork and Cucumber borrows a few key flavors of Thai cuisine and gives a nod to popular culture by presenting them in a skillet stir-fry/salad combo.
Lean pork loin is sauted and served with a salad of cucumbers, red peppers and romaine lettuce or bok choy lightly dressed with the tang of low-sodium soy sauce, garlic and lime juice.
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A minced chili pepper adds a flash of heat, and the entire dish is finished off with a dash of cilantro.
Cooking tip: Thai chilies, also known as bird’s eye chilies, may measure just 1 1/2 to 2 inches long, but they can pack a fiery punch that is not lessened with cooking. Pepperscale.com rates Thai peppers as six to 40 times hotter than a jalapeno. It’s a good rule of thumb to use gloves when working with chilies to avoid skin irritations.
To seed a cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop down the center.
Thai Pork and Cucumber
1 cucumber, not peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/2 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 to 1 red or green hot Thai chili pepper or serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
Pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil, divided
1 pound boneless pork loin, cut into very thin strips, about 2-by-1/8-inch
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups thinly sliced romaine or bok choy
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
Place cucumber and red bell pepper strips in a small bowl. Combine lime juice, minced chili, soy sauce and pepper in a small bowl. Spoon 2 tablespoons of lime mixture over cucumbers. Toss and set aside.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat and cook, stirring frequently, until meat is browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 30 seconds. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the lime juice mixture and cook, stirring frequently, about 30 seconds or until meat is fully cooked.
Place romaine or bok choy in a deep serving platter. Spoon cucumber mixture, with any collected liquid, over greens. Top with cooked pork.
Whisk remaining 1 teaspoon oil into remaining lime juice mixture. Drizzle lime juice mixture over meat and cucumbers. Garnish with cilantro.
Per serving: 191 calories (30 percent from fat), 6 g fat (2 g saturated), 74 mg cholesterol, 8 g carbohydrates, 26 g protein, 215 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.
Yield: 4 servings.