Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Recipe: Asian Orange Pork

While I was serving my mission [1] in Monterrey, México, I was often served mole (pronounced MOH-lay, mouse over for IPA) with rice and chicken. Mole is from the Náhuatl [2] word molli, which means "sauce".[3] Usually we were served mole poblano, which was a sauce that included chocolate and dark red mulato chili peppers. Less frequently we were given mole verde, which replaced the chocolate with pumpkin seeds and tomatillos and was typically spicier due to the use of serrano and poblano chili peppers. On one occasion, however, I was given an orange-flavored mole (which included choclate) served over pork. It was spectacular. Since then I've searched in vain for an orange mole recipe.[4]

Even though they don't include chocolate, the orange sauces offered at Chinese restaurants have satisfied my yearning. However, every Chinese restaurant I've ever been to has orange sauce served over chicken or beef, but never pork. Never pork! So last week I formulated my own recipe.


  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper powder [5]
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 lb. lean, boneless pork (2 sirloin chops), cut into 1/2 inch cubes [6]
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrots
  • 1/2 cup broccoli florets
  • Cooked rice
  • Roasted sesame seeds (for garnish)

Whisk together water, orange juice, lemon juice, rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, orange zest, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and red pepper. Pour into a saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and cool 15 minutes.


Place the pork pieces into a resealable plastic bag. When contents of saucepan have cooled, pour 1 cup of sauce into bag. Reserve the remaining sauce. Seal the bag, and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

In another resealable plastic bag, mix the flour and salt. Add the marinated pork pieces, seal the bag, and shake to coat. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place pork into the skillet, and brown on both sides. Drain.

Combine carrots, broccoli, and onion with a little water and microwave on high for five minutes. Combine with the browned pork.

Bring the remaining sauce back to a boil over medium-high heat. Mix together the cornstarch and water; stir into the sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve meat and veggies over cooked rice. Top with sauce. Garnish with roasted sesame seeds.


[1] For those who are unsure why Latter-day Saints (Mormons) go on missions, I recommend you visit here and here, where you can learn more about LDS beliefs concerning sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you have more questions, ask and maybe I'll do a full post on the topic.

[2] Náhuatl is the language spoken by the Aztecs.

[3] Side note (as a foot note): if you combine the Náhuatl word for avocado (ahuacatl) and the Náhuatl word for sauce (molli), you get ahuacamolli or guacamole (i.e. avocado sauce).

[4] I made one doomed attempt to create my own orange mole recipe. I overdid it on the orange flavoring and it was much too strong. But the disaster came when I tried to remove the blender from the motor and accidentally unscrewed the bottom. The contents spewed all over the counter, all over the floor, and all over my pants. Since it had chocolate in it, it looked like I'd had a most unfortunate accident.

[5] This gives the sauce a noticeable, but not intense heat that doesn't build. When I tried making this with 1/4 tsp. red pepper powder, there was no heat at all. So if you want some heat, but less than I like, stay above 1/4 tsp.

[6] This recipe will work just as well with 1 lb. chicken or 1 lb. beef.

[7] Apparently cutting raw meat on a wooden cutting board is anathema. Your wife will become irate if you do it, so stick to plastic cutting boards.


  1. But aren't wood cutting boards the best? Plastic is a germ factory. Glass dulls knives, as does stone and ceramic.

    A most unfortunate "accident" - Bwahahahahahahahahah!

  2. My wife says wood breeds germs better than plastic because it's porous.

  3. Yes, it's porous. But I remember hearing that wood forgive cuts, and retains germ inhibiting factors better. Though I seem to recall Alton Brown of Good Eats using a variety of them. Might be worth researching.

  4. Yep, Alton Brown addressed plastic vs. wood cutting boards.

    Scroll down to Scene 6. Basically, plastic is good for meats, but once it's cut and scratched it must be replaced. Wood can be sanded and reused. Both can be sanitized with vinegar, but only the plastic can go in a dishwasher. So meats get plastic, everything else gets wood.