Fragrant coconut rice, spicy carrot salad, and this saucy baked pork form one of my favorite meal ensembles. The idea of making three different dishes in order to create this one coordinated meal may seem daunting, but these three components go so well together that, as tempted as I am to tell you that you don’t need to serve all of them together in this manner, I’m going to encourage you to give this combo a try.
I may fail as a writer in not being able to convince you with anything more eloquent and persuasive than, “This is really good! You should try!” But I find consolation in the confidence that I won’t fail you as a friend.
Hopefully, if you follow the following steps, creating this dinner won’t be such a hassle. Here’s the game plan.
If you’d like this for dinner, marinate the pork and stick it in the fridge (along with a bottle of Riesling, perhaps?) before you leave for work. When you get back, put the pork in the oven and let it cook for 40-45 minutes (see the recipe below). While the pork is baking, make one recipe of coconut rice with chives on the stove top or in a rice cooker. As you’re waiting for the rice and the pork to cook, make 6 servings’ worth of Som Tam, substituting grated carrots for green papaya and leaving out everything else except garlic, chilies, peanuts, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice (alternatively, you can replace carrot Som Tam with one recipe of Russian “Korean” Salad).
By the time the salad is done, both the pork and the rice should also be done. All you have to do is keeping the salad cold, keeping the rice warm, and making a sauce out of the pan juice. In less than an hour, you will be sitting down to this meal with a glass of cold Riesling. [Note: The coconut rice and the baked pork, if there’s any left over, make for such a great packed lunch the next day. The salad won’t keep so well, so forget it and go for a side of steamed vegetable instead. Just a suggestion.]
Baked Pork Tenderloins
2 large pork tenderloins (about 2.5 lbs in total weight)
1-inch cube peeled ginger
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
2 cilantro roots or 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro stems
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons honey or brown sugar
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1/4 cup brandy, cognac, or tequila
2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Place the pork tenderloins in a large (9″x13″) glass or ceramic baking dish. Stab them a few times with a fork; set aside.
- In a mortar or a small chopper, make a fine paste out of the ginger, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cilantro roots, and garlic. Transfer the paste to a small bowl.
- Add to the paste the remaining ingredients, except cornstarch, and mix together with a spoon.
- Pour the marinade over the pork tenderloins, making sure all sides are coated with the marinade.
- Cover the baking dish with a piece of aluminum foil and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, up to overnight.
- Remove the pan from the refrigerator while you preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Bake the pork, still covered with the piece of foil, for about 40-45 minutes or until the pork is cooked through.
- Transfer the cooked pork to a large plate; set aside and keep covered.
- There should be quite a bite of juice in the pan. Pour it into a measuring cup and see how much juice you have. It should be close to one cup.
- Add plain water to the juice so you have a total of 1 1/4 cups liquid; pour the juice into a small saucepan.
- Make a slurry by whisking together the cornstarch and 1/4 cup plain water, making sure there are no lumps. Add the slurry to the juice in the saucepan.
- Heat the sauce mixture over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until it bubbles up, turns somewhat translucent, and thickens up; remove the sauce from the heat.
- Slice the reserved pork tenderloins crosswise into 1/2-inch thick pieces; arrange the pork on a serving platter.
- Pour the sauce over the pork and serve.