Pork Medallions With Star Anise Butter-steamed savoy or napa cabbage Sesame noodles or hot rice Asian pear or mango wedges Like chicken, pork has a hundred personalities. This so-called "other white meat" is happy to mix with a variety of ingredients and can be cooked in lots of different ways.
New breeding and feeding practices, as well as closer trimming of retail cuts, have made today's pork leaner and more tender. This means it is more versatile than ever, and lends itself to shorter cooking times and lower temperatures. This recipe uses pork tenderloin, the lean fillet taken from the inside loin. Cooked right, it's so tender and moist it cuts like butter. If you'd like to substitute a less expensive cut, you may use any boneless pork; although it will not be quite as tender (or as low in calories); sliced thinly it will make a quick-cooking and delicious dish.
We've suggested teaming pork with savoy cabbage, but you can substitute mixed seasonal vegetables. For quick preparation, pick up a bag of ready-to-use microwavable or stir-fry mix. For instant pasta, drop some Chinese egg noodles (chuka soba) and broccoli in boiling chicken broth and flavor with sesame oil.
All you need to end this meal is a mild, sweet fruit. Crisp Asian pears (New Zealand varieties are now in plentiful supply) would be good, or mangoes. It's the beginning of the season for Mexican mangoes, so ripe fruit should be easy to find. If you're in a real hurry, refrigerated mango wedges are convenient; you'll find these packed in large jars, sitting on ice beds in the produce shelf.
PORK MEDALLIONS WITH
2 cloves garlic
1 piece ginger root
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
1/2 pound button mushrooms (or any wild mushrooms)
1 small jar star anise
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can clear chicken broth or 1 1/4 cups homemade chicken broth
1 small bottle dry Sherry
1. Crush 2 cloves garlic. Peel and mince 1 piece ginger root to measure 1 teaspoon.
2. Cut 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-piece pork tenderloin in 3 parts. Rub each with 1 tablespoon soy sauce and garlic.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in medium-size wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork tenderloin and brown all sides few minutes.
4. Add remaining garlic and ginger and 1/2 pound button mushrooms. Stir-fry 3 minutes.
5. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 piece star anise, 1 cup chicken broth and 2 tablespoons dry Sherry. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until pork is done. Remove pork and slice into 1/4-inch medallions.
6. Stir 1/4 cup chicken broth into 2 teaspoons cornstarch until smooth. Stir into sauce. Heat until thickened, about 3 minutes, stirring.
7. Return pork to sauce to reheat. Adjust seasonings to taste. (Add more broth if necessary.) Serve with cooked noodles and buttered savoy cabbage, if desired.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.