Easy Japanese-y pork fillet

Disclaimer: I am not Japanese. I have never even been to Japan. In fact, the closest I’ve got is frequenting a number of Japanese restaurants and sushi bars and in New Zealand, most of them are run by Koreans so I’m not sure they even count.

So while this easy way to cook pork fillet might not be 100 per cent authentic, it does make use of some properly Japanese ingredients, it’s very quick to make and it goes well with a pile of sushi rice and pickled ginger. I reckon that’s Japanese enough for now, don’t you?

Easy Pork Fillet Or Pork Tenderloin Recipe

Easy Japanese pork fillet
This is a really good after-work dinner. Make it even easier on yourself by marinating the pork before you leave the house in the morning (or give it at least an hour in the marinade, at room temperature) if you forget.

1 x free range pork fillet – about 450g
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp good soy sauce
1 Tbsp mirin
1 Tbsp honey

Put the garlic, oil, soy, mirin and honey in a shallow bowl and mix well. Add the pork fillet and make sure it’s well coated with the marinade, then cover and leave overnight in the fridge or leave in a cool place for an hour or two. If it’s been in the fridge, let it sit out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
Heat the oven to 200C and line a small roasting dish with foil.
Heat a heavy frying pan over high heat and pour in a tablespoon of oil. When it’s hot, take the pork fillet out of the marinade and sear it on all sides. Remove it to the roasting dish and put in the hot oven for 20 minutes.
Remove it from the oven, cover loosely with foil and let stand for 10 minutes, then carve and serve with sushi rice, pickled ginger and some steamed beans or broccoli.

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Fish that goes snap, crackle, pop

Do you remember George Smilovici? He was an Australian comedian in the 80s, whose major hit was a monologue called ‘I’m Tuff’. The only line I could remember – “My rice bubbles are too scared to go ‘snap, crackle, pop’, they just sit in the packet and say ‘sssh, here he comes'” – came to mind last week as I searched the pantry for a bag of panko crumbs to dredge some fish in.
With no panko in sight, my eyes lit upon a packet of rice bubbles instead. To show them how ‘tuff’ I was I pounded them into submission to make a crispy, crunchy coating for some tender terakihi. That’ll teach them.

Crispy turmeric-crusted fish
I have spent a long time trying to come up with a nifty title for this fish, to no avail. Nevermind. It’s worth buying Ricies for, even if you never eat them for breakfast.

600g fresh white fish fillets, cut into manageable pieces
about 3 cups Ricies or other puffed rice cereal, crushed with your hands
1/2 cup cornflour (not to be confused with cornmeal)
2 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt (because I’m a show-off – and we had some – I used some homemade celery salt)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
butter/oil to cook the fish

Set up a production line: put the cornflour into a shallow bowl, put the lightly beaten eggs in another and mix the crushed rice cereal with the turmeric and salt in a third.
Line a large platter with some greaseproof paper.
Dip each fillet into the cornflour, then the egg, then the rice cereal, then put it on the prepared platter. Repeat until all the fish is coated. Cover the platter loosely and put in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Heat a large, heavy pan and throw in a squirt of olive oil and a knob of butter. Fry the fish, a couple of minutes each side, until cooked. Serve with a dollop of DIY tartare sauce. Serves four.

Roasted pumpkin, orange and rice

I don’t want to scare you, but I am having a love-in with brown rice at the moment. In the weekend I made an amazing salad with brown rice, red onion, fiery orange pumpkin, virulent green spinach and orange, err, oranges. It was packed with flavour and surprisingly light to eat, plus it made for several excellent work lunches. Soon I will be eschewing fossil fuels and running away to live in a commune. Want to join me?

Roasted pumpkin, orange and brown rice
This looks more complicated than it is. The hardest part is usually breaking open the pumpkin – but I take care of that by going outside, lifting the pumpkin above my head and then smashing it down onto the concrete. It’s surprisingly therapeutic.
The pumpkin roasts in the oven while the rice cooks on the stovetop, then you can potter around and make the dressing at your leisure. Don’t try making this with white rice, it won’t be the same. But you could give it a go with red quinoa or amaranth for extra health bonus points.

300g brown rice, rinsed in running water until it runs clear
450ml cold water
600g peeled and de-seeded pumpkin, chopped into 2cm cubes (about 800g with the skin and seeds still intact)

1 red onion, peeled and diced, put into a bowl and sprinkled with 60ml rice vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
3 handfuls baby spinach or rocket
100g whole almonds, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
2 lovely oranges, peeled, depipped and diced

1 clove garlic, crushed
A good pinch of flaky sea salt
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp peanut oil
2 Tbsp rice vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
juice of one orange
½ tsp honey

Deal to the pumpkin first. Preheat the oven to 200C and grease an oven dish with a tablespoon of olive oil. Tip in the pumpkin and drizzle with another tablespoon of oil. Bake for around 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin is cooked and beginning to crisp up. Set aside.
Put the well-washed rice and water in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to the boil. Let simmer for 12 minutes, then turn off the heat (DO NOT lift the lid) and let sit for 15 minutes. The rice should be perfectly cooked and all the water absorbed.
Next, make the dressing. Crush the garlic and salt together with the blade of a knife, then scrape into a screw top jar. Add the honey, juice and vinegar and shake well. Add the oil and shake again until well mixed. Taste for balance and adjust accordingly.
When the rice and pumpkin have cooled down a little, tip both into a serving bowl, Pour about half the dressing over the top and toss through gently. Drain the onion, then add to the rice with the oranges and spinach. Pour over the remaining dressing and toss gently. Sprinkle the almonds on top.
Best served at room temperature. This makes an excellent packed lunch or serve it alongside a piece of fish with some greens. Makes enough for four lunches or six to eight side dish servings.

What’s your favourite thing to do with brown rice?