A little work ahead of time will put Asian Pork Tenderloin Bowls on the table quickly on a weeknight. CONTRIBUTED BY KELLIE HYNES
Photo: Kellie Hynes
Photo: Kellie Hynes

Healthy Cooking: A little prep equals big flavor in this easy Asian bowl

This week’s column is about two of my favorite things: meal planning and dinners that defy the chicken rut. (If you’re a poultry-loving procrastinator, don’t worry, this recipe is still for you.) The chopping for these Asian bowls can be done up to three days in advance, which is incredibly helpful on nights when a 30-minute recipe is 15 minutes too long.

Start with a trip to the produce department. Daikon, a member of the radish family, is now ubiquitous in mainstream markets. It looks like an elongated parsnip and tastes less bitter than its peppery round red cousins. If you can’t find daikon, substitute a white turnip for a gentle-tasting crunch. Grab a bunch of baby bok choy, which is a milder cabbage that tastes like Swiss chard. Let’s throw some carrots into our bowls, too. Chop and store the veggies in the refrigerator until it’s go-time.

Pork tenderloin is a tasty source of lean protein, and we only need a pound to make four bowls. Since pork tenderloin is so inexpensive, consider purchasing a second tenderloin and doubling the recipe. You’ll have bonus meals for another day, or you can freeze the raw pork in its marinade for a fast future meal. If you would rather serve your bowls with chicken, 1 pound of boneless, skinless breast meat will get the job done. Marinate the chicken for only 30 minutes (not overnight) and proceed with the recipe as written.

Both a wok and a cast-iron skillet will sear your meat and veggies beautifully. Choose whichever vessel is easier to locate. My cast-iron skillet lives on my stovetop, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. It doesn’t have a lid, so I improvise by placing a baking sheet on top when it’s time to steam the vegetables. Truth: My baking sheet is now a little warped from repeated multitasking. Choose a consequence you can live with, people.

When it’s time to make dinner, keep all of your ingredients close by. You’re only cooking for 10-ish minutes, but it’s an active 10-ish minutes! Sear the meat and veggies in shifts, resisting the urge to stir constantly, so that the edges brown. Then fill four bowls with your favorite brown/white/cauliflower rice (high-five to anyone who uses up leftover rice from a previous meal) and marvel at how quickly a delicious, overnight meal can come together.

For a delicious 15-minute weeknight meal, do your shopping and chopping in advance. CONTRIBUTED BY KELLIE HYNES
Photo: Kellie Hynes

Asian Pork Tenderloin Bowls

Asian Pork Tenderloin Bowls
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin cut into 1/2-by-1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup tap water, divided
  • 1 large baby bok choy bulb, quartered
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 5 ounces daikon radish, cut into matchsticks
  • 3 cups cooked brown, white or cauliflower rice
  • Fresh chopped cilantro or sesame seeds (optional)
  • Place the soy sauce, honey, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, garlic, Sriracha, rice vinegar and ginger in a gallon-sized ziptop bag. Seal and shake well. Add the pork tenderloin and refrigerate overnight.
  • Heat 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pork from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Place the pork in a single layer in the hot skillet. Cook, without stirring, 3 minutes or until the pork browns on one side. Stir and cook 2 minutes more. Place the pork in a covered bowl and set aside.
  • Add the reserved marinade to the skillet, still over medium-high heat. Sprinkle with cornstarch. Add 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil and scrape up any burned bits. Boil until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and carefully wash the hot skillet.
  • Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Place the bok choy, carrots and daikon in the skillet. Cook 1 minute. Add the remaining 1/2 cup water and cover the skillet with a lid. Steam 3 minutes, until the bok choy is bright green and wilted, and the other vegetables are soft.
  • Divide the rice into 4 bowls. Divide and arrange the pork and vegetables between them. Drizzle the sauce on top. Sprinkle with cilantro and sesame seeds if desired. Serve hot. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving, using brown rice: 404 calories (percent of calories from fat, 22), 29 grams protein, 50 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 10 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 74 milligrams cholesterol, 384 milligrams sodium.

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Read the AJC Fall Dining Guide: The Noodle Edition

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