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.
Asian Pork Tenderloin Bowls
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