Ah, the joys of dating. In Miami, dating is similar to competitive sport fishing. We women have to wear things that look like lures in the water and just float around some supposed sea of plenty of fish, and wait around. I have an absolutely wonderful boyfriend now, but gee, have I kissed a few frogs in my life. I’ve had some epic first dates that would qualify for entry in the Awkward Dates Hall of Fame. There was that one time that a first date announced that he smoked pot every day. He was 37 years old, a professional and cursed like a sailor over dinner. When I politely told him that I didn’t smoke, he just looked at me vacantly like I just had made animal noises. He called me 20 minutes after the date and proceeded to play the “name that noise” game with me. I heard this sound that reminded me of static. He kept saying, “Siri! You don’t know what that is?”
This went on for about 5 repeats of the static sound. He then finally said, “Oh! That’s me smoking!” I politely told him I was tired, hung up and never took his call again. I then cursed myself for being nice and picking up the phone and begged for the last 2 hours of my life back.
Then there was that time I went on a blind date, where he proceeded to bore me to sleep talking about his ex-girlfriend. This was also the same date, where I ordered an unfortunate Fettuccine Alfredo over blackened scallops. Once I got the dish, the waiter proceeded to place a pair of chopsticks in front of me and just give me this look like, “you may need these”. Huh? Just because I’m Asian, I need to eat everything with chopsticks? Of course! Where are my manners?! Well, my Fettuccine Alfredo was being managed just fine with my fork, but I was caught off guard and didn’t know what to do, since it looked like the waiter was giving me a challenge, and I was already living in Awkward Town, USA, so I grabbed the chopsticks and went to town on my pasta. BIG mistake. My face was instantly covered in white Alfredo sauce, like a 2 year old eating vanilla ice cream. Not to be intimidated by a challenge, I finished my Fettuccine Alfredo with my chopsticks and he was still talking about his ex-girlfriend.
Thankfully, I haven’t had to endure an awful first date in a long while. My boyfriend now is the sweetest thing. He’s half Cuban, but speaks of the Cuban culture like he invented it. “My people love pineapple!” he utters when I’m making curry for him, I guess to politely tell me to add an entire pineapple to the curry, so it’s sufficient enough for consumption. All I ever wanted for Christmas was a “true partner”, someone who is supportive and shows it through their actions. This week, he not only washed my car, but he put in new car mats and seat covers. Which is great, because my nephews are too grown now to wash my car for $2.00 like they used to. I don’t often cook things for him that I don’t eat myself, as he’ll pretty much eat anything. However, there are two things I don’t eat, that he could quite possibly eat every day: pineapple and pork. My mother taught me long ago that even if there are things that you personally don’t eat, if the ones you love eat it, then you make it for them because it’s a caring act.
I mean, who doesn’t feel cared for when someone cooks for them, right? So, I made these two dishes with him in mind: Grilled pork salad with mango vinaigrette and Pineapple fried rice with pork, cilantro, onion and red bell peppers. It’s like a cook’s version of writing a song for someone. You know it’s a home run when someone closes their eyes after the first bite. I’m sure he would have rather been watching football, than washing my car, so I don’t mind making dishes I don’t eat, just for him. See, I feel you don’t have to reciprocate in exactly the same way in relationships, but you DO have to reciprocate and make people in your life feel appreciated. Whether it’s a partner, sibling, parent or friend. I cook, he cleans. Good partnership!
Grilled Pork Salad with Mango Vinaigrette
- 3 Boneless pork loin chops
- 1 Cup fresh papaya, peeled and cubed
- ½ cup sliced red bell peppers
- 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 4-5 leaves of Romaine lettuce shredded
- ½ Jalapeno, sliced thin
- A few dashes of garlic powder
- ½ tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 tbsp. Mango Nectar
- 1 tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
- ¼ tsps. grain mustard
- Salt and Pepper to taste
First, make the mango vinaigrette. Take a small bowl and add the vinaigrette ingredients, whisk for about a minute until all the ingredients are blended into a nice smooth dressing, golden in color. Set aside.
Next, take your pork chops and salt and pepper both sides. Also add a few dashes of garlic powder on both sides of the pork chops. Using an IMUSA medium sauté pan, add the vegetable oil and get to medium high heat. Place the pork chops in the pan and grill till nicely brown on both sides, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and using a clean cutting board, slice the pork chops against the grain in thin slices. Once all the pork is sliced, put in a medium mixing bowl. Then add the salad ingredients in this order: Sliced Red Bell Peppers, Cilantro, and Jalapeno. Then pour the Mango vinaigrette over the mixed salad. Using tongs, stir around to even coat the salad with the dressing. Finally, add the papaya pieces and stir gently. Add fresh salt and pepper to taste. Take the romaine lettuce and using your hands, shred into big pieces and put on a plate. Top with the Grilled pork salad and ta-da! You’re done!
Pineapple Fried Rice with Pork, Cilantro, Onion and Red Bell Peppers
- 4 cups of cold white rice
- 2 pork chops boneless, sliced into thin slices
- 2 eggs
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 cups of fresh pineapple, sliced and cubed into small pieces
- ½ cup sliced red bell peppers
- ¼ cup sliced green onions (scallions)
- 2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
- 3 tbsp. soy sauce
- ½ tbsp. of fresh crushed garlic
- 1 ½ tbsp. of sugar
- 1 ½ tbsp. vegetable oil
- Fresh cracked black pepper and salt to taste
Using your IMUSA wok or IMUSA medium sauté pan, put the vegetable oil in and heat pan to medium high heat. Once your wok is about medium high heat and the oil is hot, put the sliced pork into the oil. Making sure to spread the pork slices, gently stir around to brown nicely. Add freshly cracked black pepper and a few dashes of salt. Next, moving your pork up the sides of the wok, making an opening, crack the 2 eggs into the wok. Break into small pieces and stir around with the pork, about another minute. Next, add the sliced yellow onions and garlic and stir for about another 2-3 minutes, until the onions are nice and translucent. Now add the cold white rice, using your spatula or bamboo spoon, break up any clumps of rice. Next, add the soy sauce and sugar. Stir around to thoroughly incorporate the soy sauce and the rice turns a nice light brown color. Now add the sliced red bell pepper, green onions, cilantro and pineapple. Stir for about another 2-3 minutes to fully stir together all the ingredients. Finally add some freshly cracked black pepper and salt to taste. Plate and serve.