Thinly sliced pork and fresh jalapenos, fried until crispy, and coated in a garlicky spice sauce; Sweet Jalapeno Pork is an inexpensive dinner the whole family will love!
It seems that I cannot get enough of jalapenos lately. I’ve been experimenting with them a lot. If you’re a Lord Byron’s Kitchen fan, you might have noticed that I have been posting jalapeno inspired recipes lately. I swear, I’m almost over it!
That happens with me quite often. I will find a new ingredient and I’ll run with it until I grow tired of it. I’m doing it with jalapenos now, but I’ve done it before with shallots, butternut squash, and even Brussels sprouts!
But, I think jalapenos have been winning in terms of recipe popularity. It seems that everyone loves jalapenos! Once you’ve finished with this recipe, I encourage you to consider my 3 Cheese Jalapeno Poppers, these Jalapeno Corn Muffins, and also, my Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad. If you’ve never grilled jalapenos before, you must try it!
In this recipe, the pork and the sliced jalapenos are tossed in the same batter and fried in the same manner. I sliced the jalapenos about 1/4 inch thick and left the seeds in. As you know, Dear Reader, it’s the seeds that make the jalapenos spicy. If you remove them, the jalapeno is mild and sweet.
Because I wanted the spiciness, I left the seeds in. If you want to remove the seeds, I would suggest you prepare your jalapenos differently. Rather than slice them, cut the jalapeno lengthwise. Remove the seeds with the back of a spoon. And then you can cut the jalapeno into chunks.
Don’t be tempted to dice the jalapenos. If you do, they will be hard to fish out of the frying oil! Also, because the jalapenos have moisture content, they will not be crispy when fried. So, don’t think you’ve done something wrong. The batter will crisp up, but the jalapeno itself will be soft.
THE BEST CUTS OF PORK FOR THIS RECIPE
When using pork, there are three cuts that are very popular. The first is pork tenderloin, the second is pork butt, and the third is pork shoulder. You can use either for this recipe, but I used pork butt. If you decide to use pork loin, keep in mind that it’s a leaner cut and can easily be overcooked and tough.
Pork butt, because of the marbling and fat content, will most always be the safest choice. Pork shoulder will promise the same result. Just an FYI, pork butt is sometimes called Boston butt. Likewise, pork shoulder is sometimes called picnic shoulder or picnic roast.
If you’re not extremely familiar with cooking pork loin, choose the pork butt and you’ll not have to worry about it being tough. If you want the leaner pork tenderloin, cutting it properly will help.
Just slice the pork loin into 1 inch thick chops on a diagonal. Lay the chop flat and slice into thin slices across the grain. Cutting across the grain will help to keep the pork tender.
USE BREADCRUMBS, NOT PANKO!
I’m a huge fan of panko, but I will not use it in this recipe. Panko is a larger crumb and will create a thicker coating/breading on the pork. The point of breading the pork to begin with is to add flavour and texture. Panko will most certainly provide texture, but will overshadow the thinly sliced pork.
If I’m in a hurry, I will most always buy Italian style seasoned breadcrumbs. It makes life easier. If you have plain breadcrumb, you can season them yourself quite easily. All you need is a few things from your spice rack. You know that thing that most of us have in our kitchens, but very rarely use!?
Here’s a great go-to recipe for preparing your own seasoned breadcrumbs. With a little bit of garlic and onion powder, oregano, salt, and pepper, you’re all set. By the way, I never add the sugar! It’s not needed at all!
TYING IT ALL TOGETHER
Believe it or not, the pork, the jalapenos, or the breadcrumbs are not the stars of this dish. Of course, they all play their part, but the star of this dish is the sauce.
I love this sauce! I swear if nobody was looking, I could drink it! This sauce is a go-to sauce for me. Because it’s so easy to make and takes very little time, there’s no reason not to add it to everything!
Once you’re all set – everything has been prepared and plated, do yourself a favour and don’t skip on the garnish. The nuttiness of the toasted sesame seeds, and the freshness of the green onions, really help to round out the sweetness and spiciness. As I said in the first paragraph, Sweet Jalapeno Pork is an inexpensive dinner the whole family will love!
Sweet Jalapeno Pork
For the Pork:
- 1 pound pork shoulder, sliced thinly (pork butt or pork tenderloin will work too – see post for details)
- 3-4 large jalapenos, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 large egg, whisked
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups vegetable oil
For the Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes, optional
- 1/2 cup light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
- 1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
- Whisk together the cornstarch and breadcrumbs in a bowl. Set aside.
- Add the prepared pork and jalapenos to a bowl. Whisk the egg with the salt and pepper. Pour this over the pork and jalapenos. Toss to coat. Once fully coated in egg, transfer to the breadcrumb and cornstarch mixture. Toss to coat. Set aside.
- Next, bring the vegetable oil to 350 degrees in a deep skillet. Fry the pork and the sliced jalapenos until golden brown. Fry in batches. Do not overcrowd the oil. This should take about 4-5 minutes for each batch. Once fried, remove from oil and place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
- In a large skillet, over medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic, and ginger to a sauce pan. Saute for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
- Next, add the dried red chili flakes, soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, half of the sesame seeds, and half of the green onions. Stir to combine and bring to a low boil. Continue to stir and cook until the sauce thickens – about 4-5 minutes.
- Once the sauce is thick, add the fried pork and jalapenos into the skillet. Toss with the sauce mixture until well coated.
- Plate and garnish with remaining sesame seeds and green onions.