Korean-style Chili Pork Loin Wraps
As Tropical Storm Fay bears down on us (we're fine, just a lot of wind and rain), nothing much to do except work, and watch the rain. I worked most of the day, but now my cell keeps giving me an "all circuits busy", so I opened a Kalik beer (I figure Bahamian beer is appropriate during tropical storms) and I'm going to write up last night's dinner. So, like a billion years ago (okay, two), I saw Emeril cook up some lettuce-wrapped spicy pork and rice. They looked pretty good, and I filed it away as something to try.
Oh man, these were good. I wouldn't have thought it, as Emeril's recipes always seem a little bland to me, which is odd coming from the self-appointed king of New Orleans spice. There's not even any Essence in the recipe. But it works so well. I've made a couple adaptations, but here's the link to the original: Bam!.
France has its mirepoix, New Orleans has its trinity, and a lot of Asian food has its starting point as well: ginger, garlic, and scallions. The scallions are chopped, and a couple cloves of garlic and a bunch of ginger are minced, and put in a bowl for a marinade:
Add a bunch of soy sauce, a tablespoon of sugar, a couple teaspoons of sesame oil, and mix.
Next, I opened a package of pork tenderloin, and found the usual two. I wrapped and froze one and cleaned off the silverskin and junk from the other, then sliced it into strips and put in the marinade.
This goes in the fridge, covered, for an hour. But it smells so good that it's almost tempting to eat it raw, intestinal parasites be damned.
While the marinade is making pork magic, the dipping sauce can be made. A whole bunch of sriracha, some honey, and a couple more teaspoons of sesame oil. Very simple, but a great flavor combination. Sweet and nice and spicy.
This can chill in the fridge until ready, or sit out on the counter, with occasional taste tests to ensure quality.
The rice mixture is my normal faux-risotto. A half cup of Arborio rice, 3/4 cups of chicken stock, 1/4 cup of white wine.
A little butter bubbling in a pot, then the rice sizzles a bit until it gets that transparency around the edges, with a solid white nugget of a core. A little salt, then the liquid, then it simmers (covered) for 15-18 minutes. Take it off the heat, beat it a bit with a wooden spoon to release some starch, and it's done. (is there ever a more beautiful picture than sizzling butter?)
After the hour is up, the pork is removed from the fridge, where it will immediately make your kitchen smell wonderful. I heated up my 12" pan to medium-high, added some olive oil until almost smoking, then added the pork after straining off some of the marinade:
Too much liquid might make it cook a little too long. Some liquid is inevitable, though. I just cook until one side is done, flip, then cook until the hitchhiking liquid is reduced to bubbles, and the pork is cooked through.
Typical eating is a Boston/Bibb lettuce leaf (endive might work, too, and I think I'll try romaine next time), with some rice on that, then some pork strips, then a spoonful or two of sauce. Sort of like a taco.
Deconstruction: If I haven't let on by now, this was amazingly, mouthwateringly good. The pork was very, very tender, so flavorful. The sweet and the spice and the tang and the crispness of the lettuce...it was a very impressive, yet simple, dish. We tried a couple as tacos, but it ended up being less messy (and a little faster) to just pile it up open-faced in a tower of lettuce, rice, pork, and sauce, and just go at it with a knife and fork.
As for tonight, I wanted to do a baking project I've been working on, but we're expecting the eye of the tropical storm to hit us in the next few hours. We still have power but I'm not sure that we will all night (and I don't want a lot of useless dough with no working oven). Not to mention, I'm not much of a baker, but I do know that things like humidity and air pressure can affect baking, and I'm not sure that a yeast dough won't just flip out completely and hide under the refrigerator during a tropical storm. We might do something else, or put off the baking until tomorrow. Stay tuned!