The audience was rapt, and all I could think about were lemons. Whether I could grow enough vegetables in my garden to sustain me year-round is questionable at best. But what I would really miss the most are lemons and limes… and for sure, I would not be able to grow them here in zone 6 without a greenhouse (as a reference, most of California and Florida are zone 9 or 10). They make so many of my recipes pop with flavor. They give a dish that je nais se quoi, a brightness that can’t be achieved through salt, sugar or butter.
Now that things in my garden are quieting down, I’m buying more and more from the supermarket. And farther away from Joan’s idyllic word.
This dish couldn’t be farther away from local… the ingredients, the flavor profile. The only thing sustainable in this dish were the scallions and jalapenos from my garden. Hey, we can’t be perfect all of the time.
From the garden: scallions and chilies.
Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Coconut Sauce and Pineapple Sauce
adapted from Jean Georges Vongerichten
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pork tenderloins
2 tablespoons water
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 Thai green chile, minced
1 lime juiced
1 cup diced fresh pineapple
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
2 scallions, cut into rounds
2 tablespoons thinly sliced cilantro
1. In a small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons of the sugar with the coriander, cumin, turmeric, black pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Season the pork with salt and rub the spices over it. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, mix the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar with the water and bring to a boil. Add the garlic and lemon grass. Simmer until an amber caramel forms, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, pour in the coconut milk and stir until the caramel dissolves. Add the fish sauce and chile, then let stand for 5 minutes. Strain the sauce and season with salt.
3. In a medium bowl, toss the pineapple, red pepper, scallions and lime juice with a pinch each of salt and cayenne.
4. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add a tablespoon of plain oil. Brown the pork on all sides, and finish cooking in a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes or cooked to your desired doneness.
Serve Pork Medallions with Sauce and Pineapple Salsa. Jasmine Rice is a wonderful accompaniment.