TAMARIND-BASIL GRILLED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH MAHOGANY GLAZED ONIONS
With the Indian-Southeast Asian spirit of this dish, rice salad with almonds, lime, and mint, and a plate of sliced cucumbers with fresh coriander and coarse salt would set it off nicely and with a minimum of work.
Generous 1/4 cup tamarind concentrate
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (or to taste)
3 large cloves garlic
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, or extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 tight-packed cup fresh basil leaves
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch thick rounds
2 large onions, cut into 1/2-inch thick rings
1/4 cup basil leaves (for garnish)
1. In a food processor or blender, puree together the tamarind, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, Tabasco, garlic, and oil. When almost smooth, drop in the basil leaves to coarsely chop them.
2. Have the tenderloin and onion rings in a large, shallow container. Pour the tamarind marinade over them, turning pieces so they are thoroughly moistened. Tightly cover the container and refrigerate 4 to 24 hours.
3. Heat a gas grill, or burn down wood charcoal until it is covered with gray ash. Brush grill rack with oil. Drain the pork and onion rings, patting them dry. Reserve the marinade.
4. Set the pork and onions over hottest part of grill for 1 minute per side, or until lightly browned. Brush with the marinade, and then move the pieces to medium heat part of the grill. Cook another 3 minutes per side, or until an instant reading thermometer inserted in the center of the pork reads 150 degrees F. With tongs, remove the pork to a serving platter to rest.
5. Continue grilling the onions until they are nearly tender when pierced then remove them to the serving platter. Tuck the onions around the pork and sprinkle everything with the basil leaf garnish. Serve warm.
Tamarind concentrate tastes of dense sour fruit and is a deep mahogany color. Find it used in Indian, Middle Eastern and Mexican dishes, as well as dishes from nearly the entire Pacific Rim.
More supermarkets are carrying it now, but you can always find it in stores specializing in the cuisines mentioned above.
Try tamarind concentrate with non-Indian/Asian dishes, and with fruits, yogurt, meats, soy foods, vegetables, and creamy desserts. It will keep up to a year or so in the refrigerator once opened.
For mail order, search for tamarind concentrate at online stores like <a href="http://www.ishopindian.com">www.ishopindian.com</a>, <a href="http://www.kalustyans.com">www.kalustyans.com</a>, or <a href="http://www.indianblend.com">www.indianblend.com</a>. Look for the Tamcon brand that comes in plastic jars. While you're browsing, take a look at the seasoning blends and chutneys made by Patek. Their ingredients read like real food and they are good shortcuts to marinades, sauté sauces, and dressings.