Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sweet & Sour Pork with Coconut Rice

I have a confession. I have not eaten red meat in 16 years. And when I say "red meat", I mean beef and pork. I was never a big fan of the flavor, but the reason I chose to stop eating red meat was the fact it always left me with a stomach ache. It made me feel terrible. I understand now why that occurred (which I'll leave for another post discussing meat quality), but I'm still leery of sitting down and eating a solid piece of red meat. That's right - I'm the person who shows up to cookouts and hands the grill master a package of turkey or veggie hot dogs and asks servers in restaurants if they have turkey sausage instead of pork links. That's as hard core as I get with meat.

After a few years of researching organic foods, I'm more open to trying red meat again. I did, however, have a brave moment the other day and bought some organic pork tenderloin from a great local source after being inspired by this Asian recipe. I just didn't think turkey or chicken would match as well as pork, so I held my breath and dove right in.

I think I should have done some more research on cooking pork before trying to cook it after so much time. For some reason I was under the impression that pork and beef shrunk to half its size during the cooking process. Sigh, I know, I know. Don't ask me where I heard that because I have no idea. My fiancé asked me why I made the pork pieces so big, to which I replied the above, and then he gently told me after cutting into the first piece the meat was undercooked and that the shrinkage factor was not as much as I previously assumed. I lugged the plates back into the kitchen, re-cut the meat into smaller pieces, and put it all back in the pan to finish cooking. It seems I'll need to start learning from scratch before trying another red meat dish.

The good news is this dish is fantastic. We both thought it had a great balance of flavors. I love how coconut rice is sweet and a little sticky so it picks up the sweet & sour sauce. The pork was more delicate in taste than I imagined, so it did not overpower the other elements. This dish cooks up quickly, so make sure all ingredients are prepped beforehand. Thankfully my first cooking experience with pork was semi-successful so I'm up for trying more red meat recipes in the future - as long as it's from a safe, organic source.

Sweet & Sour Pork with Coconut Rice

Coconut Rice

1 cup uncooked basmati rice
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 tsp salt

Add all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 min until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat immediately.

Sweet & Sour Pork

1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
2 tbsp cornstarch, divided
3 tbsp soy sauce, divided
1 8 oz can pineapple chunks in juice, undrained
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup turbinado
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp ginger, minced
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup slivered almonds

In a large bowl, combine pork, 1 tbsp cornstarch, and 1 tbsp soy sauce. Toss well to coat and set aside.

Drain pineapple juice into a medium bowl and add the remaining cornstarch and soy sauce, plus the apple cider vinegar, turbinado, and ketchup. Stir well and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large pan medium-high, then add pork and sauté for 3 min. Add onion, ginger, and garlic; sauté for 1 min. Mix in pineapple and green bell pepper and sauté for 3 min, stirring frequently. Top with the sauce mixture and bring to a low boil. Cook for 1 min once it begins to boil and then remove from the heat.

Plating: Scoop 1/2 - 3/4 cup coconut rice onto the serving plate and top with 1/2 - 3/4 cup sweet & sour pork. Top with green onions and almonds.

~Yields 4 servings.

~Adapted from Cooking Light.


  1. The coconut sounds fantastic with this rice thanks for sharing Does it have a coconut flavor also?

  2. Yes, the coconut was present in each bite. I love coconut, so I make sure its flavor comes through in my cooking.

  3. I was like that for years too, with red meat. Then all of a sudden, I was eating steak and burgers and whatnot. And I realized it's hard to actually cook meat if you didn't eat it for so long. Looks like you did a wonderful job though!

  4. thanks! I doubt it would have even crossed my mind, but my fiancé eats red meat and I had not cooked anything specifically for him in a while. I still feel like I am doing fine without it, but it wasn't so scary. ;)

  5. coconut rice seems to be a perfect idea! the fragrance must go really well with sweet and sour pork!

  6. I love the combination. I love coconut rice and sweet and sour pork.

  7. Good attempt and a good first step back into red meat world.

  8. Great recipe! Welcome back to the world of pork, it's a tasty place to be! I refrained from eating red meat for a few years too, but am back to loving pork. Still can't do beef though.

  9. Looks like a winning Asian-American recipe!

  10. I stopped eating pork a long time ago until recently. I started buying lean cuts of pork and cooking them up in the slow cooker. I'm slowly starting to appreciate pork again. I can't wait to try out this recipe the next time I make pork.

  11. @lululu yes, i've been fixing a lot of coconut rice lately since it's so yummy

    @Divina Pe you, too! i did enjoy it so i'll probably eat it again.

    @jeroxie thanks! i'll see how far i'm willing to venture ;)

    @Conor haha, thanks! i'm taking baby steps to at least try it, but not so sure it will become part of my daily foods.

    @So Many Recipes thank you!

    @Jessie i hope you enjoy it, too! the slow cooker is a great way to cook red meat since it becomes so tender and juicy. i was thinking of using that the next time, so i'll have to look for one of your recipes.

  12. Coconut rice is the Asians favourite. It's very popular over here and we named it as 'nasi lemak'. We normally eat with hard boiled egg, cucumber & anchovies 'sambal'. Interesting right! And I have to admit that your coconut rice combo is really delicious. Thanks for sharing.

  13. thanks so much! it's nice to know coconut rice is enjoyed elsewhere since it's so good. sometimes what i consider an "Asian" dish turns out to be an American one in disguise. that's an interesting combination, too, but i'd be willing to try!

  14. Hey Brie!! Love the coconut rice and I would love to try Kristy's (my little space) asian dish... hmmm!!

    Stop by my blog... I've got something for ya!! http://just-making-noise.blogspot.com/2009/10/gratitude-foodie-fights-award.html

  15. I agree & you definitely have plenty of coconut resources in your location! ;)

    oooo, really? ::ventures off::

  16. Yum, the coconut rice sounds amazing! Thanks for all the helpful hints about squash - I'm excited to try it again!