One-Pan Asian Pork: Ooh La La!
A foray into a French outdoor market yields both an unexpected surprise as well as ingredients for an easy, warming meal. People and Food from our September 2012 issue.
My husband, Colin, and I were exploring Brittany, in France, on board Taransay Mhor, our 36-foot Westerly Conway ketch. Every year, we take a couple of months to go cruising from our home in Portsmouth, in the United Kingdom, and this year we were sailing the north coast of the infamous Bay of Biscay. Dodging weather fronts and low-pressure systems, we’d enjoyed some exhilarating sailing conditions during the most unsettled summer that many local cruisers could remember.
At the end of another breezy day, as the pale sun broke through an overcast sky, we were motoring along the Odet River looking for an overnight berth. Slowly, a bewitching chateau whose verdant lawn sloped toward the shore appeared to port. The rustic wall dividing the chateau from the river was inset with a wrought-iron gate, like a portal into another world. We picked up a mooring buoy directly opposite.
That morning, between rain showers, we’d visited the market close to Benodet, at the river entrance. In every French market, local growers sell surplus from their gardens; on simple trestle tables, wooden crates are filled with seasonal produce so fresh that earth still clings to the beautiful skins. Colorful awnings flap noisily above a profusion of gleaming fruit and vegetables. The shopping is lively, and vendors work quickly to fulfill each customer’s precise request: “Les mûrs!” orders one, wanting a ripe one. “Le rose!” barks another, pointing out exactly the pink fruit he wants.
Today, when it was my turn to order, I realized I’d need to be quick or lose my place. My French faltered, but pointing worked fine—most of the time. Unfortunately, we were beguiled into buying a costly slice of tangy cheese, the product, we were assured, of alpine sheep that were hand-milked by monks! Fortunately, we also came away with new potatoes and sweet peppers, a frilly lettuce, a handful of emerald zucchini, and some freshly laid eggs.
Now, tucked two miles upstream and snug on our mooring, it was time to think about dinner. I glanced out the companionway hatch to see black clouds racing each other across the sky. Intermittent rain began to drum on the coach roof; then a downpour began. I surveyed our haul from the market. “We need something warming,” I thought aloud. There was pork in the fridge—and all that truly magnificent fresh produce. I began to pull ingredients together, and soon this recipe had emerged. By the time the marinade had worked its magic, the setting sun was peeping under the clouds, and the rain had ceased. Over a delicious meal, we toasted to tomorrow and the possibility of good weather.
One-Pan Asian Pork Recipe
3/4 pound pork loin, cubed
1 small onion
1 small red pepper (or 1/2 large)
1 small zucchini (or 1/2 large)
Fresh coriander, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon tomato puree
3 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1-inch piece ginger, chopped finely
1/2 of a red chili, sliced
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper, to taste
Slice vegetables thinly. Combine marinade ingredients in a plastic bag or bowl. Add pork and leave for 25 minutes. Pour contents of the bag or bowl of pork and marinade into a shallow sauté pan along with the onion. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and the pork tender, about 25 minutes. Add the pepper, stir, and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in zucchini, stir; cook for 2 minutes more. Sprinkle with coriander and serve over rice, noodles, or boiled potatoes. Serves two.