Garlic Pork with Tomato and Basil

chinese pork2
Dan here today.  Beth and I have a long-standing disagreement when it comes to Chinese food.  Beth loves it and frequently gets cravings for Chinese takeout.  I, on the other hand, will eat egg rolls and shrimp fried rice, but I can’t stand any of the other takeout offerings.  It’s the same reason I hate certain types of barbecue:  the sweet, cloying, syrupy sauce.  Any time I see one of these ooey-gooey sauces on something, I give it as wide a berth as possible, and I cringe in horror when I hear the words “sweet and sour sauce”.  Thus, I was a little nervous about making this recipe, from BigOven.com, since it clearly had some Chinese influences, and it looked like one of my hated sauces was going to be involved. 

Fortunately, while the recipe called for sugar in the sauce, it didn’t specify exactly how much.  I decided to use half a teaspoon.  I also eliminated the oyster sauce, which seemed like it would add another questionable flavor (and I used bulgur instead of brown rice, since that was all we had in the house).  Still, as I cooked the pork and watched the sauce thicken, I was filled with trepidation (and a desire to use big words).  When it was done, I tentatively scooped a few small pieces of pork onto my plate along with a tiny spoonful of sauce.  After tasting it, however, I went back for more.  I couldn’t taste the sugar at all, and without the overpowering wallop of sweetness, the basil, garlic, and hot sauce made a nice flavor combination.  Beth believe she will be able to use this success to convince me to try other, more distinctively Asian, flavors.  While that is definitely not going to happen, I think we’ve found a nice compromise that produces a dish we both can enjoy.