I recently made a quick chicken stir-fry recipe for dinner and decided to convert it to a sandwich. Turns out that this recipe is easy to make and it’s also easy to adjust if you don’t have all the ingredients or if you want to change from beef to chicken to pork. This week I focused on getting a pork stir fry sandwich nailed down into a solid recipe and then I typed up my recipe and have shared it below.
What is this sandwich?
This sandwich is pork stir-fry that has been added to a six-inch sub roll. At its core it’s very simple, it’s thinly sliced pork that has been tossed in seasoned cornstarch and lightly fried until crispy. Then the pork is tossed and fried a little bit more with a few veggies and a sticky, sweet sauce that is spiced with spicy peppers.
Is this a traditional stir-fry recipe?
No. Please do not look to me for authentic stir-fry recipes. I am not a chef and I certainly am not a knowledge expert about Chinese cooking or cooking with a wok. I have owned a wok for years at this point and have rarely even used it. In fact, as you’ll read, I tested this recipe a bunch of times and it doesn’t really require a wok, just a good skillet.
…it doesn’t really require a wok, just a good skillet.
BUT. I can say that this is a good recipe. It has a sweet and somewhat spicy sauce that leans hard into something you might find at your local Chinese delivery restaurant. I just want to reiterate that this isn’t an authentic, traditional recipe, but it’s easy to make, the cut of pork is generally pretty inexpensive, the ingredients are easy to find and best of all, it’s very tasty.
First, we need some bread.
Sesame seed coated rolls
This is not a new bread recipe for Bounded by Buns. These are my tried-and-true Chicago-style sandwich rolls that have been shaped the same but cooked in a different and simpler way. The original recipe for these rolls requires adding steam into your oven and a process to spray water on the rolls to create a somewhat crunchy crust while maintaining the light but still chewy interior.
In this version, I simply skipped that step by painting egg wash—which is one egg plus one tablespoon of water—on each roll, coating them with sesame seeds, and baking without steam. This left us with a roll that was a little bit shiny, covered by seeds, and a nice chewy interior throughout.
Here’s my recipe for Chicago-style sandwich rolls which I ended up painting with egg wash and sprinkling seeds on top prior to baking.
Sweet and spicy (or not so spicy) sauce
The component that holds this whole recipe together is this sweet and spicy sauce. You can make the recipe without the sauce and if you season everything with salt and pepper, you’ll still have a pretty good meal, but this sauce starts to add additional sweet, savory, and spicy flavors that extend the excitement of the dish.
If you hate spicy food, you can still make this recipe, you will just need to make sure you leave out the jalapeno slices and the red pepper flakes in the sauce. If you still want some fresh pepper flavor in the dish, but no spice, buy a red, orange, or yellow bell pepper and dice them up into small pieces, and add it with the onion right before pouring in and cooking the sauce.
We got a wok as a wedding present years ago. We’ve kept it safe in the cupboard under our cast iron skillets ever since. In the prep for this recipe, I decided I would try it against another often-used skillet in my rotation and I found that this recipe performs well in both pans.
I’m sure that in the hands of a skilled wok user, this recipe as a stir-fry would be better in a wok, but in accordance with my own experience, I found the skillet worked just as well. A wider skillet provided more hot and flat surface area for crisping up the pork and chicken in my test batches. This doesn’t mean you can’t make this recipe in a wok; I just think it wasn’t exactly required and didn’t offer a ton of difference from the batches I made in a large skillet.
As I wrote above, you can make this recipe with practically any sort of meat that’s thinly sliced. In the testing process, I made this same recipe with chicken breast and served it to my wife, and it came out great. I added extra veggies, and we did not turn this into a sandwich, we served it on a bed of white rice.
The flexibility of this recipe and most stir fry recipes is that you can either use the base amount of veggies which is onion and jalapenos and leave it at that or you can go nuts and add extra veggies into the final dish.
In this case with the chicken, I added snow peas in when the onion and jalapenos went in, and they cooked up nicely and added extra texture and interest to the final dish. My wife bought a bag of prepared “stir-fry vegetables” from the store and we used some of those too, but they turned out to be thinly chopped and lost a lot of texture when I was cooking. In a second version of this dish, we added those veggies right at the end of cooking time and they retained a lot of texture which made them more interesting.
The chicken version that I made here will be in our ever-changing rotation of quick meals that we keep in our dinner-time meal planning.
Sweet and spicy pork sandwich recipe
This is my stir-fried pork sandwich recipe that I have made quite a few times at this point. As I said above you can change out the pork for chicken and you can remove the jalapenos if you don’t like spice.
If you want to make this to place on top of rice, you can also add any vegetables you enjoy in other stir-fry dishes like bean sprouts, snow peas, or chopped broccoli.
To tone down the spiciness of this sandwich you should first eliminate the seeds from the jalapenos that are cooked in with the sauce. I left them in but I removed the red pepper flakes in one batch of this recipe and found that they do not create a whole lot of heat.
Here’s my sweet, spicy stir-fried pork sandwich recipe.
This sweet and sticky sauce covers lightly fried and crispy pork in this comforting sandwich. You can substitute thinly sliced chicken for the pork if you want with no changes to the instructions.
Ingredients:Crispy stir-fried pork
- 1 pound pork shoulder or butt, thinly sliced
- 1⁄2 cup cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or other neutral oil
- 1⁄2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced - divided
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- sandwich roll
- sweet and spicy pork
- jalapeno slices
- sesame seeds
- green onions, thinly sliced
Crispy stir-fried pork: slice the pork into very thin slices and put the slices in a medium-sized bowl. Add cornstarch and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Toss the meat until it is fully coated with cornstarch.
In a large pan over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add pieces of pork to the pan. Make sure you do not overcrowd the pan, or you will steam the meat. If you have more meat than will fit comfortably in the pan, cook the meat in batches. Later, when the sauce is almost finished the meat will have an opportunity to warm up again, so if you have to cook it in 2 or 3 batches that will be fine.
Cook each piece of pork for 3 minutes on the first side and an additional 2 to 3 minutes on the second side to ensure that it is a bit crunchy and cooked through. Remove each piece of pork to a plate while you cook the next batch.
Once the pork is fully cooked and moved to a plate to rest, add the onions and jalapenos to the pan and cook them for 3 to 4 minutes until the vegetables have softened.
Sweet and spicy sauce: while your onions and jalapenos are cooking, it's time to make the sauce. Add each sweet and spicy sauce ingredient to a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
Pour the sauce into the pan with the onions and jalapenos and cook until the sauce starts to thicken which should take about 5 minutes.
After the sauce has cooked for 4 or 5 minutes add the pork back to the sauce and stir to combine everything.
Sandwich assembly: slice your rolls and add half of the pork and sauce into each roll (there might be some leftover).
Top the pork and sauce with more fresh jalapeno slices, a sprinkling of sesame seeds, and a few sliced green onions to garnish.
Serve and enjoy.
This is not a typical cut of pork. Normally when I find pork butt or shoulder it's a much larger piece, closer to 4 or 5 pounds. Your butcher could probably cut a pound off for you, but you can also just buy a pork butt to smoke or slow-cook and slice off a pound for this recipe.
If you'd prefer chicken instead of pork, just buy chicken breast and cut it into thin pieces so that it will cook quickly. After that, you can follow the rest of the instructions exactly as they are written.
If you prefer less heat, I suggest leaving out the jalapenos. The red pepper flakes do add a little spice, but not very much. Most of the heat in this recipe comes from the seeds in the jalapenos cooking in the sauce.
Check back next week for some breakfast
Next week we’ll be back in breakfast sandwich territory. I have been testing some new techniques to create a new and popular Chicago-based breakfast sandwich. My patrons over on the Bounded by Buns Patreon could tell you what I’m working on because they support the site and get insider updates on upcoming sandwiches.