Right, here's a little story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.....
A long, long time ago - actually nearly 40 years as it was when we were newly married - Mark and I went to live in Brunei on the island of Borneo. After a few weeks, we decided to take a short break to go and see the interior of the jungle, so we boarded a bus in the nearby town of Kuala Belait and headed along the jungle road into the nearby Malaysian state of Sarawak.
The bus itself was very rickety, probably mostly caused by travelling daily along rutted jungle tracks; in fact at one point the track was so rough the driver simply drove the bus through the undergrowth to the nearby beach where he could drive more safely. The bus was absolutely packed with people loaded down with shopping bags full of fruit, fish and even squawking live chickens, all being tossed around together as we passed through dense jungle and field after field of watermelons and gourds, and even over two ferry crossings.
We left the bus after the second crossing and waited for the boat that would take us up the river into the interior of the jungle, while sitting in the cool shade of a wooden hut sipping on ice cold Green Spot and watching saronged ladies haggling over the price of durians and hammerhead sharks.
Our destination, several hours up the river by jet boat, was the jungle village of Marudi, where we stayed in the faded grandeur of the Government Rest House and visited a longhouse where the family got us tipsy on their home fermented rice drink and showed us their pepper fields, then the next day we flew low over the jungle in a six seater plane back towards the coast. We could look down and see the logging operations which I believe have now cleared most of that area of jungle, seeing the spectacular sight of the long platforms of logs being floated along the river to the coast.
Our destination was the coastal town of Miri, where we stocked up on the local carved pottery and bought a bag of green-skinned oranges to refresh us on the long bus ride back home to Kuala Belait.
Now on to the recipe - I've no idea if it is an official dish or has a real name, or if it is just something that was thrown together just for us, but the night we stayed in Marudi we went to eat at a Chinese food stall. Mark used to speak a little Malay as a child, but he could remember very little, just enough to say to the woman on the stall "Food, please, but no fish" and a few minutes later we were brought a delicious dish of stir fried pork with cherry tomatoes. It was only lightly seasoned with a little soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil, letting the fresh flavour of the tomatoes through, and sitting there in the clean, fresh air of the jungle village and tucking into our pork and tomatoes with steamed rice and a glass of cold Tiger beer was a really magical experience. We bought green-skinned oranges from a nearby stall for dessert and a Michelin starred meal couldn't have outshone it!
I've recreated the dish just for us many times but I've never shared it with anybody before, so consider yourselves privileged.
Ingredients (to serve two greedy people)
200g pork fillet, sliced into long thin strips
for marinade - 1 heaped tsp cornflour, few drops sesame oil, 1 tsp light soy sauce, 1 tsp Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
Rub all the marinade ingredients into the pork and set aside for at least an hour before cooking. You will then need:
6 large spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
thumb sized piece of fresh ginger cut into julienne pieces
cherry tomatoes - as many as you wish to use or have handy, I used a small cereal bowl full
1 tbs peanut, ground nut or sunflower oil
1 tsp Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
1 tbs light soy sauce
150ml chicken stock
1 tsp cornflour
Heat the oil in a wok until smoking hot and tip in the pork. Fry, stirring and tossing, until he pork has no raw meat visible, then mix in the spring onions and ginger and continue to stir fry for 2 minutes. Now add the wine, standing well back as you will get a cloud of scalding steam, followed by the stock, soy sauce and tomatoes. Mix together then blend the cornflour with a little cold water and add to the pan. Stir until thickened and serve.
The tomatoes will be only very lightly cooked so their freshness bursts out when you bite down on one.
I've added a side of pickled green chillis, made from a recipe in Ping Coombes's book "Malaysia".