Jenny’s mother made this stir-fry, hot and beautiful with freshly minced red chiles, and pleasantly crunchy with barely cooked stem lettuce (celtuce) strands, the first time I ate supper with them. Later, in a Miao household outside Chong’an, I had another version of the same dish, just as delicious, cooked in lard rather than in the vegetable oil Jenny’s mother used. We substitute Napa cabbage for the stem lettuce.
We have made this dish with fresh red cayenne chiles and with minced pickled chiles. The pickled chile version has a nice little vinegar edge to it, very characteristic of the pickled and soured flavors in many Miao dishes.
- About 1 tablespoon lard or peanut oil
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 2 or 3 red cayenne chiles, seeded and minced, or 3 tablespoons minced Pickled Red Chiles (see headnote)
- ½ pound boneless pork loin, butt, or tenderloin, thinly sliced
- About ½ pound Napa cabbage, preferably from the stem end, thinly sliced (4 cups loosely packed)
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 large or 2 small scallions, smashed, cut lengthwise into ribbons and then into 1-inch lengths
Place a wok over high heat. When it is hot, add the lard or oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the wok, then toss in the ginger and chiles. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds, to a well-blended bright red mass, then add the pork slices and stir-fry until they have all changed color, 1 to 2 minutes. Toss in the cabbage and stir-fry for about a minute. Add the salt and stir, then cover and cook for about 1 minute. Remove the lid and stir-fry a little longer, just until the cabbage is softened but not limp.
Toss in the scallion ribbons and stir-fry for another 30 seconds or so. Turn out into a wide shallow bowl and serve.