Food trends come and go, but Thai food is a hot trend in America that I hope is here to stay.
This exotic cuisine has its own unique palette of tastes, while using traditional Oriental cooking techniques such as stir-frying and grilling. Ingredients like basil, coconut milk, ginger, peanuts, hot peppers and fish sauce create unforgettable taste combinations.
Experiencing the flavors of Thai food used to be something only enjoyed when visiting Thai restaurants in larger cities. But today, supermarkets have expanded their Oriental food sections to include a bevy of Thai ingredients and ready-to-use sauces.
Today's recipe for pork satay on peanut noodles uses prepared satay sauce to give you a taste of Thai without the trip to a big city. Satay is marinated and skewered pork, chicken or beef, which is commonly sold by street vendors in Thailand. Thai restaurants in this country usually serve satay as a first course. The marinade usually includes peanuts, coconut milk and a bit of hot pepper.
In today's recipe, pork satay takes center stage as a simple main dish. Here, one jar of satay sauce does double duty as a marinade for the pork, as well as a sauce for the noodles. The jarred sauce is divided into two bowls, one mixed with soy sauce and orange juice, to be used as a marinade, the other mixed with honey and vegetable oil, to sauce the noodles.
There were two brands of satay sauce available where I shop for groceries,
one by Taste of Thai the other by Thai. The only difference I could tell between the two was in the price, as one jar was almost a dollar more expensive than the other.
You can use thin pork loin chops or a pork tenderloin, sliced into medallions. I pounded the pork to an even quarter-inch thickness.
Combine the marinade with the pork in the morning for the best flavor. When you come home, put some water on to boil and heat up the grill. If you happen to have one of the new indoor grills that are popular now, this is a great opportunity to use it. The total cooking time for the pork will be cut in half.
Use quick-cooking, fresh pasta for this recipe, and toss with the sauce as soon as you drain it. Serve the satay atop or beside the noodles with some stir fried sugar snap peas and red bell pepper strips. A crisp salad of thinly sliced cucumbers tossed with seasoned rice wine vinegar, available with the other vinegars at your supermarket, would be a traditional accompaniment to the satay.
Fruit for dessert is a Thai tradition, especially tropical fruits like mangoes, papayas and pineapple. Why not keep the Thai theme and cut up some tropical fruit to serve atop sorbet or frozen yogurt?
1 1/2 pounds thin boneless pork loin chops
1 7- or 8-ounce jar satay sauce, divided
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons orange juice
9 ounces fresh linguine
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons honey
Combine 1/2 of the satay sauce with the soy sauce and orange juice. Pound pork chops to an even 1/4-inch thickness. Place the pork chops in a zip-top plastic bag or bowl and cover with the sauce. Allow to marinate at least 30 minutes, or as long as 8 hours.
Heat charcoal or indoor grill.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Combine remaining satay sauce with oil and honey. Cook linguine according to package directions, drain well, and toss with sauce.
Remove pork chops from marinade and grill pork chops 2 to 3 minutes per side. Discard leftover marinade, or bring it to a boil in a small saucepan and serve along with the cooked pork.
Place some linguine on each plate, top with one or two pork chops.
Makes 4 servings.
Karin Calloway is a corporate chef and free-lance writer. You can write her in care of The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, Ga. 30913. Or send her an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.