Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pork Satay

Over the weekend in DC, I served this dish to a group of Habitat for Humanity friends that my wife, Julia, and I made last year at the Carter Work Project in Thailand. Reminded us all of Chiang Mai.

(serves 12 as an appetizer)

2 pork tenderloins (about 2 lb)

 The Marinade
2 Tbs coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
¼ c canola oil
¼ c coconut milk
2 Tbs fish sauce (nam pla)
2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
6 cloves garlic, grated
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon

The Dipping Sauce
1 14-oz can (less ¼ c) coconut milk
½ c peanut butter (oreferably smooth)
2 Tbs red curry paste (or green curry paste)

1. Place the pork tenderloins in the freezer until they are firm but not frozen, about 30 minutes. Cut each in half crosswise to yield shorter "logs" about 4-5 inches long. With one hand pressing the pork down into a cutting board and the other holding a sharp knife parallel to the board, cut each lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. ( Each piece should yield about 9 slices, or 36 slices in all.)

2. In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the coriander and cumin seeds until fragrant, about  3 minutes. Remove from the heat. When the spices have cooled a bit, grind them in a spice mill (or crush them with a mortar and pestle).

3. In a mixing bowl, combine  the ground spices with the rest of the marinade ingredients. Add the pork and toss to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

4, Prepare the dipping sauce (which can also be made in advance and refrigerated). In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the coconut milk,  peanut butter, and curry paste. Simmer until the flavors combine and deepen, about 20 minutes.

6. Soak the skewers in water for at least 30 minutes so that they don't burn.

5. Preheat the grill to high. Thread each marinated pork slice onto a skewer. Cook until slightly charred on one side, about 3-4 minutes. Turn and cook until done, about 3 more minutes. Serve with the dipping sauce, which can be either warm or at room temperature.

• It's nearly impossible to find fresh Thai ingredients in this country (have you ever seen a kaffir lime leaf?), so I don't even try. Instead, I buy the little jars of red and green curry paste sold under the Thai Kitchen brand. These pastes contain kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and a host of other hard-to-find ingredients. Admittedly, it's a convenience food, but I compromise because it's such a great convenience.

• Don't let the coconut milk quantity for the dipping sauce throw you. The point is that I don't want you to open a second can for this recipe. Take 1/4 cup for the marinade and then simply use the rest of the can for the dipping sauce.

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