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Stir-fry a feast in 30 minutes

Published Aug. 28, 2005

(ran TNS edition)

Don't we all yearn for good cooking also to be easy? And long for someone to tell us how to do it?

Well, someone has _ a whole team of people with excellent credentials, as summed up on the cover of their new cookbook, Food Network Kitchens Making It Easy (Meredith Books, 2004, $24.95).

The people who have put their experience into the book are the professionals who, as they point out, "test, taste, shop for, prep, cook and style the food for the taping of from three to six Food Network television shows every day." Working out of the network's kitchens, they also provide food for parties and cooking classes, a combination of varied needs for work and entertainment that has streamlined and focused their techniques and use of ingredients.

Icons at the tops of the cookbook's pages tell you which of four key easy-cooking strategies are involved in a recipe. Those strategies are: pantry picks _ stocking your pantry then making the most of what's at hand in your kitchen; double duty _ cook once, eat twice; real quick _ dishes you'll get on the table in half an hour or less; and cool tools _ new twists on old appliances.

The recipes, one to each cleanly designed page many with color photos, include starters, soups, main courses, side dishes and sweets. The entire text is scattered with smart tips and how-to photos.

The recipe for stir-fried pork with sugar snap peas is tagged as real quick, taking about 25 minutes. "Stir fries rule when the call is for dinner fast," the Food Network's kitchen professionals say.

For this one: Pork and crisp sugar snap peas are paired with a swirl of hoisin sauce and sesame oil. Have the ingredients ready in your fridge and pantry. At dinner time, with no fuss and only one pan, the fresh ingredients and a few spices are lightly tossed, and you have a bold, eye-catching meal in no time.

Stir-Fried Pork With Sugar Snap Peas

1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into {-inch cubes

3 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts kept separate)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 1{ tablespoons)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon sherry or Shaohsing wine (see note)

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

5 tablespoons peanut oil

1 pound sugar snap peas, stringed

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

Hot cooked jasmine rice for serving, optional

Preparation time: 25 minutes.

Toss the pork with the scallion whites, half the garlic, half the ginger, the soy sauce, sugar, 1 teaspoon of the cornstarch, the sherry and the sesame oil. Marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes. Mix the remaining 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil and heat. Add the sugar snap peas and the remaining garlic and ginger; stir-fry until the sugar snaps are bright green but still crisp, about 1 minute. (If the peas are still tough, add a tablespoon of water and cook for a minute longer.) Season with salt and pepper to taste and pour into a large bowl.

Heat the skillet over high heat again and add 2 more tablespoons oil. Add half the pork mixture, season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir-fry until lightly brown, about 2 minutes. Add the first batch of pork to the sugar snaps. Repeat with the rest of the oil and the pork. Return the sugar snaps and pork to the pan. Add the hoisin and the cornstarch mixture. Cook until the juices thicken, about 1 minute. Mound the stir-fry on a serving platter or divide among 4 plates and scatter the scallion greens over the top. Serve with rice, if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Note: There are many versions of Chinese rice wine, the editors say, "but we like to use Shaohsing, one of the higher-quality versions."

Source: Recipe from "Food Network Kitchens Making It Easy," Meredith Books, 2004, $24.95.