So many plums, so little time. The countdown is on for the end of the stone fruit season, but right now you can find perhaps a dozen plum varieties at both your local farmers’ market or supermarket. A recent stroll down the grocery aisle revealed Pluots of the red, green, and dinosaur varieties, as well as Sunrise Reds, Midnight Moons, Damson, Greengage, Mirabelle and Stanley Rubies. The colors both outside and in reflect the rainbow. I love buying a few of each so that chopped and mixed you can create a colorful salsa with tastes that run from tart to sweet, then pump that flavor further with fresh lime, crystallized ginger and loads of fresh mint.
Plums are an essential flavor in many Asian cuisines, but especially Japanese and Chinese. While neither the salsa nor the pork marinade are authentic, they reflect my modern update on classic cuisines using the palate of flavors and pantry staples that represent their birth regions. I first traveled to both Japan and China shortly after my year-long stint in four kitchens in France, where I drilled down on classic techniques. That travel, more than anything else in my life, transformed both my palate and thoughts toward technique, opting for less reliance on fat-first flavor and relying more heavily on quick cooking techniques and bold aromatics, like ginger. It has been said I am a fiend for ginger. That is no lie.
I found this bamboo ginger grater on one of my trips, and it is much easier to clean and gives a higher yield of grated ginger than a microplane. If you ever see one, snag it. The two recipes in this post rely on crystallized ginger for the salsa (love the little texture contrast that crystallized gives when mixed with fruit) and fresh for the marinade. Fresh ginger is also a terrific meat tenderizer, so this marinade works well with less primo cuts of meat.
Asian Marinated Pork Tenderloin
This marinade recipe in its first iteration came about from a bet with the great Josh Wesson, lord of all things food and wine pairing. Once during Aspen’s Food & Wine Classic, he smugly dared me to serve up blue fish in any possible way that would EVER pair with a wine. Once thought to be too oily to be wine-friendly, the pesky poisson was handily tamed by this robust marinade. I WON. I don’t remember where we landed for the wine, but believe it was a Gewurztraminer or something in the Alsatian family. The marinade went on to earn me a spot in the Gourmet Magazine Healthy Menu Awards final round, and in yet another reboot it was featured in Great Women Chefs. Until I saw the parade of plums this week, I had not thought of the marinade in quite a while, but dusted it off and tweaked a few ratios and ingredients, and it’s just as full of flavor (and simple to prepare) as I remember. And as is required to qualify for my list of favorite “dump and stir” recipes, this Asian marinated pork lets some of the store-bought ingredients like black bean garlic paste and hoisin do the heavy lifting, flavor-wise.
With all the plums in season right now, it’s the perfect time to whip up a little Asian-inspired Ginger Plum Salsa. And what could be better than serving that with this flavor-rich and a snap to prepare Asian Marinated Pork Tenderloin?
Ginger Plum Salsa
2 cups pitted and diced plums (assorted varieties, about 4 or 5 plums)
1/2 cup diced, peeled cucumber
2 Tablespoons minced red onion or 1 scallion, thinly sliced
Juice of one lime (about 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice)
1 Tablespoon honey
2 Tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons chiffonade (thin ribbons) of fresh mint
2 1-pound pork tenderloins, trimmed of silver skin and fat
Make Ginger Plum Salsa
Combine the plums, cucumber and red onion (or scallions) in a small bowl.
In another small bowl, whisk together the fresh lime juice, honey, crystallized ginger and red pepper flakes. Pour over the fruit and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Add the mint just before serving.
Makes 2 1/2 cups
Make Asian Marinade
Combine all marinade ingredients and marinate the pork at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. If you are marinating for more than 1 hour, refrigerate, covered.
Grill Asian Marinated Pork Tenderloin
Remove meat from marinade and pat dry. Start over a hot grill to mark, then cook on a cooler part of the grill (with the lid down) about 20-30 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 145oF. Alternatively cook in a 425oF until meat reaches temperature, 20-35 minutes.
Remove from the grill or oven and let rest 10 minutes before carving.
Serve alongside ginger plum salsa.
Prep Time:20 minutes (plus marinating time)
Cook Time:25 minutes
Fresh mint and lime juice really elevate the flavors in the salsa and brighten the whole plate.
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A-comfy-cozy-warm-and-toasty-sit-by-the fire-and-sip-port-dessert. Cutting the butter that normally makes a command performance in the topping, this dessert weighs in at only 117 calories and 2 grams of fat. Ah, but it feels like so much more.
6 Amaretti Italian cookies, coarsely crumbled
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
Pinch of salt
2 fresh Chilean Nectarines, halved, pits removed
1/2 cup fresh Chilean Blueberries
2 fresh Chilean Plums, halved, pits removed
2 Tablespoons port
1 Tablespoon sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup non-fat Greek Yogurt
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Prepare 4 – 4” (1 1/2 cup) ramekins by coating the sides with a thin layer of butter.
Mix the crushed cookies, brown sugar and salt together in small mixing bowl.
Arrange 1/2 nectarines, cut side up in each of the four prepared ramekins. Divide the blueberries among the dishes. Place the 1/2 plums, cut side down, pushing the nectarines at an angle, so they overlap slightly. Drizzle each with the port. Sprinkle crumble on top and divide nuts among the ramekins.
Place ramekins on a sheet pan, and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, checking the topping after about 15 minutes. Place a small square of foil over the ramekin, if the topping is starting to darken. Fruit should be tender and juicy when pierced.
Many sweet potato recipes use a lot of butter to carry the flavor, but this recipe amplifies the sweetness of the roasted fruit and their juices and a sparing dash of toasted nuts and prosciutto. The latter two give the dish a rich and nutty /salty surprise that plays off what can sometimes be a cloyingly sweet one note samba. Not here! Tango for two.
2 large sweet potatoes (approximately 2 pounds)
1 cup grapes
2 plums, chopped
2 Tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon slivered almonds, toasted
1 ounce of prosciutto, finely chopped
Preheat to 425°F.
Wash sweet potatoes and prick gently with fork. Place potatoes on an aluminum foil‐lined baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour to 1 ¼ hour or until tender, or alternatively microwave per the direction of microwave’s manufacturer. When potatoes are tender, remove and cool.
Meanwhile, place grapes on a rimmed non-stick baking sheet, lightly coated with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for about 15 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to turn the grapes. Add plums to baking sheet; bake 8 minutes longer or until grapes start to shrivel and are lightly browned. Remove from oven, and transfer grapes and plums to a small mixing bowl. Add brown sugar, honey and cinnamon to fruit and stir until brown sugar has dissolved.
Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. When cool enough to handle, cut potatoes in half lengthwise; scoop pulp into a large bowl, and mash by hand or with hand mixer. Fold fruit mixture into potatoes, adding the juices as needed; gently stir until blended. Transfer mixture to a one-quart soufflé dish (or four individual 8-ounce ramekins), lightly coated with non-stick cooking spray. Top with almonds and chopped prosciutto.
Return to oven and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.