Last week I mentioned that I was trying recipes from Tyler Florence’s latest cookbook, Tyler’s Ultimate. This recipe appealed to me for many reasons, including the use of fresh, ripe tomatoes and the fact that the meat was grilled. Although my version is not as beautiful as the picture in Tyler’s book (I have to remember to wipe the edge of the serving piece before taking pictures!) it was a fabulous, complex, satisfying dinner and perfect for summer. Rob said it was “the best thing I’d ever cooked.”
So far, I am leaning towards buying this cookbook, and suggest that you at least look at it, since it is truly stunning. My only complaint, and its fairly minor, is that some of the Asian-inspired recipes, including this one, call for ingredients that are difficult to find unless one lives in a major metropolitan area. My regular grocery store doesn’t stock lemongrass, Thai bird chiles, or unsweetened , shredded coconut. I was lucky enough to find most of the things I needed because there is a substantial Asian student population at the University in town, but some of you may need to be creative in making substitutions. As the book points out, though, the ingredients called for are standard in cooking Thai food, and once you have them, you can create other dishes with the same flavors. I think this would also be good made with chicken or beef, and that the sauce would be fantastic with stir-fried tofu over sticky rice….
One more thing: this is not a dish that is quickly thrown together, but with a bit of planning and some help with the grilling, it could easily be cooked on a week day after work. Start marinating the meat and chop the ingredients for the sauce (which are all added at one time and can be stored together) the night before. When you get home, one person can fire up the grill and cook the pork while the other makes the sauce and the salad. This would also be a splashy, delicious meal to serve to guests with maybe a chicken satay as an appetizer and something cool and fresh for dessert.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Chile-Coconut Sauce
(from Tyler’s Ultimate by Tyler Florence)
For Pork Tenderloin:
- 2 pork tenderloins, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds total
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1/2 lime
For the Chile-Coconut Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, chopped into small pieces (I found this at the local Asian grocery)
- 1 fresh Thai bird chile, cut into rounds (I couldn’t find these peppers, but substituted Serranos, which are pretty readily available)
- Stems from 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro
- 1 can (14 oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce (available at most grocery stores, but definitely at an Asian grocery)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Coconut-Tomato Salad:
- 1 1/2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut (although it appears that Tyler used coconut freshly grated from a coconut, I bought unsweetened shredded coconut at the Asian grocery. Its prettier his way).
- 2 pounds fresh heirloom tomatoes, cut into big chunks (The recipe suggests the use of heirlooms in a variety of colors; all I could find at the Farmer’s Market this week was red).
- 1/2 small red onion, slivered
- 1 fresh Thai bird chile, thinly sliced
- Leaves from one bunch fresh cilantro (If you read the recipe through, and are smarter than I was, you’ll see that you need the stems from this quantity of cilantro for the sauce; I suggest that you remove the leaves, set them aside for the salad and chop the remaining stems for the sauce).
- Handful of fresh mint leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 scallions, trimmed and chopped
Put the pork on a platter and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and lime juice and turn to coat the pork with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator.
For the chile-coconut sauce, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, lemongrass, chile and cilantro stems and cook to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and sugar and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Squeeze in the lime juice and season with the fish sauce, salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature.
Preheat an outdoor gas or charcoal grill. Blot some oil onto a thick square of paper towel and then carefully and quickly wipe the hot grates of the grill to make a nonstick surface. Put the pork on the grill and cook, turning to brown on all sides, until crusty on the outside and almost cooked through but still slightly pink in the center, 10 to 15 minutes. (Note: this may take longer depending on your grill and the meat). Remove from the grill and let rest for a few minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. spread the coconut out in a thin layer on a baking sheet and bake, shaking every now and then for even cooking, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. (Note: if you are using bagged, shredded coconut it will take much less time). In a big bowl, toss together the tomatoes, red onion, chile, cilantro, mint and salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and fold in the toasty coconut and scallions.
To serve, slice the pork and add it to the bowl with the tomato salad. Pour over the chile-coconut sauce and toss it all together.