Monday, June 18, 2012

Seattle Inspiration

Breed by Nirvana
I first experienced the music of Nirvana secondhand as my oldest son listened to them while he was in high school.  I liked them.  But it was his music - not mine.  Fast forward about 10 years and I found myself back in college pursuing a degree in Culinary Arts - with an hour's drive each way every day.  I listened to a lot of music on those daily drives - the drive in requiring a different tone than the drive home.  Towards the end of school, after a long day in the campus cafe and classes, I found myself wanting to listen to something that matched the energy going on inside my mind.  I had the radio on one day and a Nirvana song came on and it was exactly what I wanted to listen to!  I cranked it up and let it flood my senses.  Nirvana had now become mine - my go-to music after an especially hectic day/night in the kitchen.  Breed pretty much matches what my insides are like.  My trip to the EMP in Seattle last week, more specifically the grunge rock exhibit, will always be what I associate with today's recipe.  Both are pretty intense!

My son and his family met us in Seattle for a few days last week.  We had a great time strolling around the stalls at Pike Place Market, down around the piers, and the Seattle Aquarium.  We also had tickets to a couple of Dodgers vs. Mariners games.

One of my favorite places in Seattle is the EMP museum.  EMP stands for "Experience Music Project." They have all sorts of hands-on displays and an area where you can get up close and personal and actually experiment with musical instruments - even make a studio recording!  We spent our last morning together in Seattle exploring the EMP and I really enjoyed watching my grandsons get immersed in the experience.  The display paying tribute to the grunge rock scene that sprang from Seattle in the 80s and 90s was excellent.  We loved sampling the tracks of such groups as Nirvana, Temple of the Dog, and the Screaming Trees.  We walked through the Gallery of Guitars and spent some time in the Science Fiction Museum as well, making scary shadow puppet shows and learning about zombies and scary movies!

Too soon, it was time to get some lunch before they had to head to the airport to catch their flight back home.  We spied a place across the street and headed on over.  It was a sports bar and grill type of place and the wait was just a few moments.  Most of us ordered bar and grill staples - burgers and sandwiches - but my daughter ordered an Asian barbecued pork tenderloin salad.  Salads rarely catch my eye and  I'm always afraid of still being hungry afterwards.  Her salad looked great!  I happily ate my slider appetizer turned entree but I kept checking out her salad, noting all the ingredients and going over in my mind how to execute it and what changes I would make.  Realizing that my phone's memory was much better than mine, I pulled it out and made a list of ingredients on the notepad app.  I was definitely going to make that salad when I got home!

I already had a recipe for the asian barbecued pork tenderloin that a friend had given me a couple Christmases ago.  I headed to the grocery store and picked up all the ingredients on my list - only they didn't have any of the small pork tenderloins!!  Oh no!  The only tenderloins they had were already sitting in their vacuum-packed packages with marinades already included.  Ugh!  What to do!

My eye skimmed the meat case in case someone had moved one of the plain ones to another area.  My heart skipped a beat when I thought I saw a straggler down at the end.  I went to check it out only to find that it was turkey tenderloin, not pork.  Dang!  Or was it?  Why couldn't I use turkey?  Maybe I was onto something.  I tossed it in my cart and decided to give it a try!

It worked beautifully!  The salad was perfect on my first try!  Where the original salad had all lettuce, I added lots of shredded cabbage.  I added mandarin orange segments also for a sweet element and for the bright color.  I found some fried wonton strips in the produce department and was happy that I wasn't going to have to break out the fryer for a few wonton strips!

This salad is satisfying in so many ways.  The fresh crispness of the cabbage is countered by the mellow sweetness of the toasted almonds.  There's lots of crunch and m-m-m-m!  We all loved it and I know it will be on the menu often throughout the summer!

Thursdays post this week will be a guest post from my daughter, Becca.  You are going to LOVE the recipe she has planned to share.  She's a wonderful writer as well, so be sure to come on over Thursday to see what she has to say and share!

In the meantime, make this salad!

Asian Barbecued Turkey Tenderloin Salad
serves 4-6
Printable Recipe Card
1 1/2 - 2 lb turkey or pork tenderloin
1/2 c. water
1 T. kosher salt
4 T. sugar
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/2 t. red food coloring
1 T. chinese five spice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t. grated fresh ginger root

Place the tenderloin in a gallon-sized plastic bag.  Mix together the rest of the ingredients and pour into the bag over the tenderloin.  Marinate overnight.  To cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Discard the marinade and bake the tenderloin for 45 minutes.  If using turkey, make sure the meat registers 165 degrees on the inside.  Let cool, covered.

While the meat is cooling, mix together the following ingredients in a large salad bowl -

1/2 head savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
1 head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
3 green onions, sliced thin on the diagonal
1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted
1 can mandarin oranges, drained, 2 T. reserved liquid
1 c. fried wonton strips

Slice the tenderloin in thin strips on the bias and add to the salad after it has been dressed.

You will need the following ingredients for a dressing -

5 T. canola oil
3 T. rice vinegar
2 T. juice reserved from mandarin oranges (optional)
2 t. soy sauce
1 T. sugar
1 t. sesame oil
1 t. lemon juice
1/4 t. chinese five spice
1 t. grated fresh ginger root
1/2 t. black pepper
1/2 t. kosher salt

Shake well until you can see the ingredients have come together well.  Dress the salad or serve on the side.

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