Full disclosure: I am working as a paid spokesperson for Kikkoman on their campaign during Hispanic Heritage Month. My recipes and photos featuring Kikkoman Soy Sauce were sponsored, however the views and opinions expressed in this post are completely my own.
“What’s for dinner?” is as common a question now as it was when I was growing up. If memory serves me right, my brother and I were a little relentless about it, too. As soon as Mom arrived home from work and before she could truly get a word in edgewise, we’d be asking her this infamous question. Fortunately, she had always planned ahead and had a quick answer for us, and one of our favorites was stir fry! For Mom, this was a quick dish to prepare, it was full of colorful and nutritious vegetables and it made great use of pantry staples, including Kikkoman Soy Sauce. Something about that savory umami flavor from the soy sauce always made mom’s stir fry mixed with steamed rice taste extra special!
Turns out, adding a bit of soy sauce not only enhances the flavor of foods (I’ve been adding it to all sorts of dishes since I was a kid!), it can also help cut back on the sodium in our diets. Sound odd? Given that so many people equate soy sauce with high sodium, a 2009 study published in Journal of Food Science showed that adding traditionally brewed soy sauce instead of table salt to foods (they tested it in salad dressing, soup and stir-fried pork) reduced sodium content by 17-50% without compromising flavor or “pleasantness” of the foods. With so many of us seeking ways to cut back on sodium for health purposes, this is excellent news! High sodium diets are associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke, especially among the Latino population, so it’s great knowing that adding a little bit of soy sauce can keep total sodium down while keeping the flavor in!
In my version of Mom’s pork stir fry recipe, I used Kikkoman’s Less Sodium Soy Sauce, which not only enhances the flavor of the dish, it further reduces the sodium content compared with using regular soy sauce. Had I used table salt instead of Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce, this recipe would have 8 more teaspoons of salt or 19,000 milligrams of additional sodium—way more than anyone needs!
As Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off, it’s fun to reflect on the meals that Mom kept in heavy rotation at home. Although we had our share of traditional Mexican meals, she also loved mixing things up with Asian dishes as well. With so many crossover cooking techniques and flavors between Hispanic and Asian cuisines, it makes perfect sense that stir fry was such a common meal in the Rodriguez home! I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do!
Pork Chop Stir Fry
Recipe by: Christy Wilson, RD
Serves: 8, 1 cup servings
Total time: 45 minutes
For the pork:
- 3 tablespoons Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ginger root, grated
- 1 clove garlic, crushed and diced
- 1 pound pork loin, sliced into ¼ inch strips
For the stir fry:
- 4 cups Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
- 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup mung beans
- 1 cup snow peas, sliced diagonally
- ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
- ¼ cup green onion, sliced
- 2 tablespoons Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoons corn starch dissolved in 1 tablespoon chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon Kikkoman Sesame Oil
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 celery stalks, sliced diagonally
- 2 carrots, grated
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
- 1, 8 ounce can water chestnuts, drained and rinsed
- Optional: 2 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
- In a medium bowl, add Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce, garlic, ginger, pepper and sliced pork. Cover bowl and marinate in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Over medium-high heat, add 1 teaspoon of canola oil in heavy skillet or wok. Remove pork from marinade and add to heated pan. Stirring frequently, cook pork until no longer pink. Transfer to a plate, cover with aluminum foil and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil over medium-high heat and add garlic and green onion. Cook for about 15 to 30 seconds.
- Add celery, red bell pepper, carrots and cabbage and stir-fry until cabbage is soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Next, add snow peas, mushrooms and water chestnuts. Stir to combine ingredients and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add ½ cup chicken broth, sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes.
- Pour the corn starch-chicken broth mixture over the cooked vegetables and stir to combine.
- Add cooked pork and mung beans to the skillet and mix all ingredients together. Serve Pork Chop Stir Fry over steamed brown rice and garnish with cilantro, if desired.
Nutrition facts per serving: 1 cup portion
Calories: 210, Total fat: 12 grams, Saturated Fat: 3 grams, trans fat: 0, Sodium: 372 milligrams, Total Carbohydrate: 10 grams, Dietary fiber: 3 grams, Sugar: 4 grams, Protein: 15 grams; Vitamin A: 70%, Calcium: 4%, Vitamin C: 60%, Iron: 6%
Why Go Plant-Based?
When seeking ways to add more vegetables into a dish, be generous! Unless you are dealing with dietary restrictions that call for liming potassium, magnesium, phosphorus or other particular minerals, more is better. Plant-based diets rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains and beans are associated with a healthy body weight and improve the prevention and management of chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Although diet cannot single-handedly cure illness, it can have a significantly positive impact on overall health, wellness and quality of life. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee performed a 2010 literature review to determine the effect of plant-based diets on stroke, cardiovascular disease, and total mortality in adults and found that plant-based diets were associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality compared with non-plant-based diets. (Source: Tuso PJ, Ismail MH, Ha BP, Bartolotto C. Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets. The Permanente Journal. 2013;17(2):61-66. doi:10.7812/TPP/12-085).
If you're not a big fan of plant-based foods, I suggest starting with small portions and gradually building from there. Whether they are raw or cooked, seasoned or unseasoned, alone or in combination with other foods, find creative ways to add more into your daily and weekly intake. This recipe is a great way to get started!