Gochujang Pork

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This post is a perfect example of why I love food blogging. There are many reasons, actually, like the friends I’ve made – some even in person! But learning about ingredients and foods from different cuisines is really exciting to me.

Gochujang is one such ingredient, a sweet Korean chili paste that I’ve noticed for a while. Thanks to Amazon.com, I now own some.

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I was reminded of this ingredient recently on Sally’s blog Bewitching Kitchen, when she posted Korean pork ribs, and on The Not So Creative Cook, when Jhuls posted Steak with Gochujang Sauce, and on A Cookbook Collection, when Donna posted Korean Chicken Wings. I knew I had to make something!

To test out the paste, I created a sauce using gochujang and a few other Korean ingredients. A wonderful reference for Korean ingredients can be found here, from Sue’s blog My Korean Kitchen.

I didn’t add anything sweet, because the first ingredient in the list of the gochujang is corn syrup. This is unfortunate, but when I looked in to making my own, I decided to pass on that complicated culinary endeavor.

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Here’s what I did:

Gochujang Pork Tenderloins

2″ piece for fresh, peeled ginger
2 large cloves garlic
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup gochujang
4-5 tablespoons mirin
2 pork tenderloins
Salt
Pepper

Place the ginger, garlic, sesame seed oil, and soy sauce in a small blender jar or mini food processor, and process as much as you can.
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Add the gochujang. It’s so pretty and has a wonderful spicy ketchup aroma. I wasn’t sure what it’s viscosity would be, but it’s quite paste-like.
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To create my desired sauce consistency, I used about 5 tablespoons of mirin. I wanted the sauce pourable, but not thin.
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Have a baking pan big enough for the pork tenderloins on hand and drizzle in some oil.

Season the pork tenderloins.
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Spread some of the sauce on top of the tenderloins. Turn them over and place them in the oil.
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Spread more of the sauce on the top. Make sure you still have enough for serving time. Cover the pan with foil and let the tenderloins marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

When you are ready to cook the pork, remove the pan from the refrigerator and let the meat come close to room temperature. I set my oven at a roasting temperature of 375. One could certainly also use a charcoal grill, weather permitting.

Use an in-oven temperature probe to monitor the pork. I prefer an internal temperature of NO MORE than 155 degrees Farenheit.
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After cooking the pork tenderloins, immediately place them on a cutting board. After a good 15-minute rest, slice the pork cross-wise.
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Place the slices on a serving platter. Brush on some of the remaining gochujang sauce.
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If desired, sprinkle the meat with sesame seeds, cilantro, or chopped green onions.

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This sauce is so good I’ve made a gochujang-based BBQ sauce twice since I made this tenderloin recipe. Gochujang is fabulous stuff!

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Pumpkin Polenta

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Over the years I’ve been asked quite frequently about the difference between polenta and grits. But they are the same thing – essentially, cornmeal. Polenta is the Italian name for the dish, and grits are well known in the states as a Southern staple. They are both a savory porridge of sorts, made with ground corn. The only thing that is different is the grind of the cornmeal. There are finer grinds and coarser ones.

The reason I love polenta (and grits) is that I can do wonderful things with it depending on my mood and the season. For example, with fall approaching, I’ve begun stocking up on one of my favorite canned ingredient – pumpkin puree. I add pumpkin to soups, stews, pastas, meat loaves, risottos, and today, polenta. Pumpkin not only complements the cornmeal flavor, but it creates a beautiful orange color as well. It just screams autumn!

When you go to cook your cornmeal as polenta, you need to read the package directions. Because polenta comes in various grinds, the cooking times vary. Just as with purchased pasta, read the directions. Also keep in mind that cornmeal nearly triples in volume when it cooks, so unless you’re cooking for an army, don’t be tempted to use more than 1 cup of polenta, which is perfect for 4-5 servings. Here’s what I did.

This post is also at The Not So Creative Cook today. Jhuls is the author of this blog, and she actually is very creative! She was kind enough to ask me for a guest post, and I chose this dish because of fall approaching, although not fast enough for me. She used the Pumpkin Polenta for Fiesta Friday, which is a weekly post created by Angie over at The Novice Gardener.

Pumpkin Polenta

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup medium-grind cornmeal

In a large pot, heat the butter and oil over medium-heat until the butter just browns. Add the onion and stir, lower the heat to medium low. Sauté the onion for about 3-4 minutes.

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Add the garlic and cook for just about 30 seconds, then stir in the broth, pumpkin, and salt.

Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Using a whisk, slowly pour in the cornmeal. Lower the heat and simmer the polenta, whisking occasionally, until all of the liquid is incorporated.
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If it gets too thick, add a little more liquid. This process should only take about 8-10 minutes unless you’re using a coarser cornmeal.

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Serve with grated cheese, if desired, such as Parmesan, or, in my case, Monterey Jack!

If you want your polenta a little more decadent, substitute some heavy cream or even goat’s milk for some of the broth.

Just think of the ways you can make polenta! Add pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, both fresh and dried, ancho chile paste, achiote oil – you name it!

note: Just like oatmeal, polenta will keep thickening with time. If you need to refrigerate any leftover polenta, make it really soupy before you store it. Only then will you have a chance of not discovering a cornmeal frisbee in your frig the next day!