Incoming email: Good morning, Mr. Rabbit. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves the making of a SAVORY dish in which fruit (fresh or dried and of your choice) plays the defining role in terms of providing flavor to the overall dish. This message will self-destruct . . . The real challenge from the 4 Velveteers may have been less dramatic, but the mission just as important.
A worthy response would be a dish with fruit and pork, which always go nicely together. Sweet and Sour Pork is the first thing that comes to taste memory, but I’m not talking about the day-glow orange gelatinous goo clinging to the nubbins of meat typically served in Chinese restaurants in the West.
You need a vibrant, tangy sauce that’s only sweet enough to contrast with the saltiness of the lightly breaded and flash-fried pork nuggets. That’s idea behind, Sweet and Sour Pork ( 咕嚕肉, goo lou yok), the dish I knew growing up. As a kid, I’d sneak into the kitchen for a pre-dinner snack and sample the fried pork pieces as they sat ready for the sauce.
With this in mind, I made a contemporary version with strawberries, peaches, and vinegar. The strawberries have an edge of tartness and the juiciness of the peaches brings out their sweetness. While the umami of the soy sauce helps find the balance between sweet and savory, the vinegar completes the sauce. You can certainly adjust the balance of sweet and sour to your liking, but make sure it’s bold and packs a punch.
Skillet Roasted Sweet n Sour Pork
recipe by hungryrabbitnyc, 2010
Sweet n Sour Sauce
1-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1-1/2 cups strawberries, rinsed, drained, hulled and diced
3/4 cups peaches, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon dry sherry or brandy (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each, rinsed and patted dry
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup strawberries, diced
1/2 cup peaches, peeled and diced
Sweet n Sour Sauce
1. Combine the broth, wine vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, strawberries, peaches and rosemary in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until brown sugar is dissolved. Turn heat down to low and simmer until reduced by half, about 15 minutes.
2. In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch with the 2 Tablespoons of water until combined, add to sauce mixture. Stir in sherry or brandy if use. Increase heat to medium-high, whisking constantly, until the mixture returns to a boil and thickens, about 3 minutes. Strain the mixture through a medium sieve into a bowl. Season with black pepper and set aside.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the baking rack in the center.
2. Combine salt, pepper and rosemary in a small bowl. Pat both tenderloins on all sides with this mixture.
3. Heat the oil in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is hot and you see whisps of smoke.
4.Add tenderloins and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Carefully transfer the skillet to the oven and roast about 15 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of the tenderloin reads 155 degrees F.
5. Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the tenderloins onto a cutting board. Tent with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes. (Pork temperature will continue to rise to 160 degrees F while resting.)
1. While pork tenderloins are resting, rewarm sauce and stir in strawberries and peaches, if using. You can also sprinkle fruit on to the finish dish to retain their vibrant color
2. Slice the tenderloins into 1-inch thick medallions and arrange on a serving platter. Pour 1 cup of the sauce over the medallions. Pour the remaining sauce into a sauceboat or serving bowl if extra sauce is desired at the table. Serve immediately.