For over a decade, I taught preschool all around the world. Which means that I have seen kids’ lunches from Seoul to Seattle and have experienced the universal struggle of getting children to sit at a table and eat food. To help model good eating habits and help children to eat their food, I have always encouraged adults to join the little students in eating the same lunch at the same table.
Now, whether lunch is delightful or dreadful really depends on what’s on the menu and the company you share it with. Sometimes I would sit down with my students, classical music playing in the background to aid in the ambiance, eat some really good sesame noodles and have an excellent conversation about various topics: mommy, daddy, who is my friend, who is NOT my friend, the potty, that one time my mom and dad took me somewhere cool. Those days, I would think that I was lucky to have the best job in the world because I had the best class in the world!
Then were are other times when a child was inconsolable: simultaneously crying at full volume, eating with their mouth open and vomiting on the table because they are crying. Those days, I just needed someplace quiet where I could be alone.
Overall, though, I had more good lunches than bad ones. I also have to admit, having good food helped make those good days a success not only with kids but also with me. After all, it’s difficult to get a child to eat a meal that you wouldn’t eat (and they don’t have the option of sneaking out to the noodle shop down the road for a tasty snack during nap time).
However, no matter where I found myself there was always one dish which, whenever it was served, I couldn’t resist extra helpings. In China, that dish was pork and celery stir-fry. I just loved it. What is not to love about crisp celery paired with fatty pork in a sauce just salty enough to make your mouth water and served with rice? Nothing! It’s delicious!
Now I make a more adult version of it at home with pork topside, a lot more ginger and garlic and a coating of hoisin and soy sauce. It’s still a favorite with the kids but a bigger hit with the adults and is great to make if you are looking for a lighter, healthier meal that is also quick and easy. Feel free to do as I do, and eat this stir-fry in a big bowl with steamed rice and a big bottle of Tsingtao in front of the TV….because you’re an adult now so it’s ok.
300g-400g (10.5oz-14oz) pork topside
5-6 medium sized celery ribs with leaves (300-400g/10.5-14oz)
1 1/2 tbsp sliced ginger
2 tbsp sliced garlic
1 tbsp Hoisin sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water
Combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, cornstarch and water into a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
Chop pork topside into 1 cm pieces and season with salt and pepper. Put in a bowl and set aside.
Clean celery and separate the ribs from the leaves. Chop up the ribs into 1 cm thick pieces and finely chop up the leaves. Place in a bowl and set aside.
In a large wok, heat 1 tbsp oil on high heat and fry up pork until it is firm and no longer pink (about 3-5 min). Transfer to a plate and set aside.
In the same wok, heat 1 tbsp oil over high heat and add sliced ginger and garlic. Let cook for about 1 minute until fragrant but not burnt. When ready, add chopped celery and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. The celery should be slightly cooked yet still crisp. When celery is cooked, add pork and stir fry together for 1-2 minutes more. Add sauce to wok and mix well. Cook for 1 minute then turn off heat.
Serve with steamed rice and enjoy!