You know what, guys? We DID it! Tomorrow, June 29, 2010, Mouth Of The Border celebrates its first birthday.
I moved to NYC almost four years ago, wondering how I was going to wrap my brain around this huge city. When I decided to explore New York City ethnic neighborhood by ethnic neighborhood, sharing what I learned about how each culture cooks and eats together, I knew that I had to share these stories beyond my friends and family. I’m so happy it’s turned into something bigger. I’m so excited to start spending more time with you here soon. More neighborhoods, more stories and more crazy new foods to try!
Instead of birthday cake, though, why don’t we party it up in true MOTB style with a spicy original dish that pays homage to the neighborhood we spent so much time in during year #1: Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
I came up with the recipe for Crown Heights Coconut Quinoa over the weekend for a fun project. I was invited to participate in a very cool event called Video Builds The Cooking Star, where a handful of my fellow food writers/bloggers and I will work with a pro videographer to shoot a spiffy video of us presenting our original recipes. I’ll share the video about this recipe here and it will also be submitted for the Sears Chef Challenge (Twitter hashtag #ChefChallenge).
Now, quinoa itself is not a traditional West Indian staple. Most dishes feature rice as the starch, or root vegetables. But I use quinoa in place of rice or pasta for most dishes because it’s one of those amazing super foods. It’s a complete protein with tons of goodies for your body and it’s gluten-free to boot. Take that! Pow pow pow.
Even though quinoa isn’t something you’ll find in abundance in Crown Heights, what is traditionally West Indian is a good, spicy jerk sauce. So to give my quinoa some street cred, I’m cooking it up in some onion-infused coconut milk and pairing it with a delicious, succulent pork tenderloin marinated in jerk sauce and topped with colorful curry mango salsa.
I used a lot of shortcuts here for the sake of the busy home cook. Most of these ingredients are super easy to find in any grocery store. If you can’t find bottled jerk sauce or a dry rub, a recipe for the marinade is at the end of the main recipe here.
Crown Heights Coconut Quinoa with Jerk Pork and Curry Mango Salsa
Ingredients (Serves 6-8)
2 pork tenderloins (2 lbs)
3-4 tbsp. jerk seasoning (bottled is fine, if not avail. see end of this post for a jerk sauce recipe)
1 bunch scallions, diced
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, minced
1.5 cups (12 oz.) quinoa, uncooked
1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
2 cups chicken broth
1 Vidalia onion
Salt and pepper, to taste
For Mango Salsa
2 ripe mangoes
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp. lime juice
1-2 tbsp. cilantro
1 tsp. curry powder (optional)
1 small habanero pepper, seeds removed and diced or 1 tsp. habanero pepper/Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce (optional)
1. Add the can of coconut milk to a medium saucepan. Slice half of the Vidalia onion into wide rings. Add onion to coconut milk and cover. Do not turn on heat. Let set for 30 min – 1 hour. This will infuse a sweet onion flavor to the coconut milk, which will give the quinoa a creamy texture and sweetness to set off the spice of the jerk sauce. Uniformly dice the other half of the onion and reserve for step 4.
2. Slice the pork tenderloins crosswise into medallions, about 3/4 in. thick. In a large bowl, cover the pork with the jerk sauce and use your hands to make sure each piece is thoroughly covered with sauce. Cover and chill, 1 hour – overnight.
3. While the pork marinates, peel and slice the mango. Toss in a blender with the rest of the salsa ingredients or just chop and mix everything by hand. Store the salsa covered in the fridge until mealtime.
4. Remove the onion rings from the coconut milk and toss or reserve for another use. Add the 2 cups chicken broth and quinoa and bring it all to a gentle boil. Once boiling, add the diced onions and lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and let cook for 15 min. Check after 10 min. The quinoa grains will look fluffy and translucent in the center when fully cooked.
5. Once quinoa is cooked, add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and keep covered on the stovetop until mealtime.
6. In a large saute pan, add 4 tbsp. canola oil, safflower oil or other oil suitable for high heat (do not use olive oil). Bring to high heat. Once the oil starts snapping in the pan, lower to medium heat. Use tongs to add pork medallions in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.
7. Cook the pork for about 3 min. on the first side, until you the meat cooked through almost to the center. When the meat stops sticking to the pan, carefully flip the pieces to the other side. Cook for about 1-2 min. additional, until the meat is white all the way through. Depending on the size of your pan, you’ll need to cook these in 3 or more batches. Add the chopped scallions and thyme to the last batch, along with 1/2 cup water to loosen up the bits of meat and jerk sauce that have stuck to the pan. This creates a little glaze for the meat.
8. Remove meat from pan and cover with foil. Let rest for 3-5 min.
9. Dinner’s ready! Use a measuring cup to plate 1/2 cup of the quinoa in a mound, and top with the mango salsa. Fan out 3-4 pork medallions to the side of the quinoa. Garnish with a little additional salsa and a couple of sprigs of thyme if you’re feeling fancy. Enjoy.
Try it out this week and let me know what you think. Let me know if you modify the recipe; I love hearing how people take stuff and run with it. You can, of course, substitute rice for quinoa and chicken for pork. If you can’t get fresh mangoes, a peach salsa would be delicious here too.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading and sharing MOTB with all of your friends. I love that we have this place to hang out to and get to know all the wonderful cultures and foods that make my city so amazing.
Thank you for to the 100 subscribers, the 161 fans, the 103 comments and all the love. Oh, the places we’ll go!
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UPDATE: Here is the video we shot that night of me talking about the recipe.
P.S. * Jerk Sauce recipe
If you don’t have access to bottled jerk sauce, make your own. It’s super easy. Gourmet’s version combines 3 scallions, 1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme, 2 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. ground allspice, 2 tbsp. lime juice, 1 tbsp. molasses (not blackstrap) and 1 tsp. habanero or Scotch Bonnet hot sauce (go easy on this last part or leave out altogether if you don’t enjoy spicy foods). Mix it all up and rub all over the meat. You’re welcome. ;-)