Let me sound like a late night infomercial for a second here. If you ever wanted to eat like royalty but still had to cook it yourself because you aren’t royalty (maybe you are, I’m not), this dinner, if you like pork, might be the answer and it takes about 15 minutes to make. When it comes to cooking efficiency and flavor intensity, asian cuisine always comes to the rescue… italian cuisine could also come to the rescue and perhaps many others but let’s stay focused, we can talk about other cuisines in another post.
Pork of great quality at the local store. Not frozen, just beautiful and fresh looking. I’ve talked about mushrooms in the past and how great they are here in Vancouver, so I will repeat myself and say, these mushrooms are incredible, so delicious. Beautiful iceberg lettuce and green onions. Organic everything. I couldn’t resist to put together a quick weekday dinner, take some photos and hit the publish button, specially since I’ve been MIA (again) for a few days.
I’ve been working on another recipe that involves trout, and I ran into a couple of problems (ok, I burned the thing) so I decided to postpone that post until I find another beautiful trout. I went looking for one today, and no luck. They have the most amazing rainbow trouts at the store, I just have to be patient. I could use another fish, but there’s something beautiful about these trouts (I’m literally hypnotized by them) and you can buy them whole, so I’ve been practicing deboning and filleting them. I’m a little less destructive now. Anyway, back to the pork loin. Take that umami factor, then add sweetness, saltiness, garlickiness(?) sourness, and what do you end up with? a 20 minute royal dinner. I told you. And here’s how:
Ingredients (makes 2 servings):
1 fresh and beautiful medium or small pork loin
1 green onion, root bit removed, thinly sliced
1 or 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 or 2 cups of assorted mushrooms (trumpets, chanterelles, shiitake, whatever you like)
1 or 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp sugar (honey, maple syrup would be really nice)
3 Tbsp Soy sauce or Tamari Sauce
2 Tbsp of Rice vinegar, I used white wine vinegar, it’s what I had
3 or 4 cups of iceberg lettuce leaves, any lettuce could work, bok choy!
1. Salt the loin (liberally) and let to rest while you prep everything else. Doesn’t matter if it’s cold. We’re gonna cook it and all will be well in the end. Oh, you can cut the loin in half crosswise so it will fit the pan. Let’s continue.
2. To make the pickled lettuce. Get the lettuce leaves in a pot, with the vinegar and half the butter. Medium heat, covered. The vapor will wilt it, this cooks rather quickly, so keep an eye on it. Once the pot’s steaming. Cooking for about 5 minutes or until wilted, but not mushy. Stir to mix butter, vinegar and lettuce. Set aside.
3. Make the mushroom medley. Add butter, mushrooms and sprinkle some salt on a pan, over medium high heat. Brown the mushrooms and the butter for something like 3-5 minutes. Set aside.
4. Searing the pork loin. Add enough vegetable oil to a pan to coat the bottom, preferably a stainless steel pan so you can later deglaze the fond. Brown the pork loin on all sides getting a nice caramelization. If the pork loin was cold from the fridge, it won’t cook at the center when the surface is perfect. If you have a thermometer, use it. Insert the tip and get a reading at the core. I was at 8 degrees celsius (about, 46F, pretty cold) even when the outside of the meat was already cooked. There are 2 things you can do. You can finish in the oven which is pretty standard. But I was feeling too lazy tonight. I finished on (in?) the pan. Here’s how:
5. Finishing the meat on the pan. Once the surface of the loin is nice and browned, remove the loin form the pan. Remove excess oil from the pan. Return the pan to the stove. Deglaze with some water, a couple of Tbsp would do. Make sure all the brown bits come loose. Lots of steam at this point. Cleaner pan too. Reduce the heat to medium low. Return the loin pieces to the pan. Cover the pan. This is the most important part, because we want to finish the loin by steaming it. Lots of the juices from the meat will play part in this awesome phase helping with the steam generation. Give it like 10 minutes. I adjust the stove temperature just so I can keep steam going, add more water if it needs it, but only little by little. We’re not making soup. Again, the thermometer comes out again, does its thing and if it reads around 57C or 135F you should be good. I took the meat off the stove earlier, probably at around 54C, it will continue to heat up by a few degrees, the carryover heat does the final bit of work. If you don’t like the loin slightly pink at the center, then leave it on the stove until it reaches 57C – 58C.. it will be 60C after you remove it from the stove. This all might sound a little tricky, or complicated, but it is simple and repetition/practice helps.
6. The glaze. Here is my favorite part. The’s a bit of really flavorful juice on that pan by now. Add the soy sauce, the sugar, and reduce away on medium high heat. Toss in half the spring onion slices and the garlic. Stir, let it all bubble up and reduce until syrupy. If it goes too dry, add a little water, if it’s too water, reduce some more. Takes a few minutes, but it’s fan to watch. And the smells of asian cooking will fill the house and appetites will get all worked up at this point.
7. Coating the pork. Return the pork loin piece to the pan, and glaze them. Coat them, making sure to let them rest in this syrup for a little bit, while you get ready to plate.
8. Plating. Add the pickled lettuce and the mushroom medley to the plates, by now, the glaze will be slightly firmer because is not as hot. You can coat the meat again, and then transfer to a cutting board.
9. More plating. The pork should have had enough time to rest by now, so you don’t run the risk of cutting it too early and all the juices running out. So, using your best and sharpest knife (I’ve destroyed many wonderful pieces of meat using dull or serrated knives) Slice the pork loin and serve according to your liking.
10. And more plating. The remaining glaze in the pan won’t go to waste. Add a little water, bring the pan back to the stove, heat up the liquid, reduce quickly, and drizzle the sauce over your mushrooms and lettuce. Garnish your plates with the reminder of the green onion slices. And done. You’re eating like royalty.