Why hello there, and welcome to Kitchen Catastrophe, the most read demented journal of a madman’s ravings that doesn’t aid one in their battle against The Vampyre! I’m your host and resident Renfield, Jon O’Guin. And today, despite what gothic horror the opening sentences may have implied, we’re going to talk about daytime television. (Which, to be fair, is pretty horrible to Goths) Of course, if you DON’T want to learn more about TV for sick people, click HERE for a nice little dinner recipe. For the rest of us, may God have mercy on our souls, for the Count shall not.
Mike TV Ain’t Got Nothing on Me
When it comes to television, my family is decidedly on the “For” side. We’re big fans of TV. Or, rather, we’re big fans of physical Television SETS. We have at least four in the house, but we’re actually rather set and uninterested in television SHOWS. My father likes to watch movies on TV, typically films from between 1936 and 1988, his interest in films (or, more likely, his time with which to enjoy them) immensely dropping the year I was born. He likes war movies, and action movies, and westerns. His television tastes are manly enough to chew tobacco and arm-wrestle in dive bars. My mother, on the other hand, likes Food Network, the Disney Channel, and CreateTV, an off-shoot of PBS that I swear one woman has a stranglehold on, because literally EVERY advertisement made by the channel itself uses her voice, often just REPEATING what the ad said right before it.
Is this a hypnosis thing? “Do not question the announcer. The announcer is the only voice you hear…”
I strike a strange mixture. Firstly, I predominantly watch Netflix and Youtube over Television, but otherwise strike a middle ground, watching Food Network, Create TV, and TNT, a channel who only own five different shows, so BY GOD, you will watch them. Seriously, if you turn on TNT right now, the odds are roughly 66% that it’s playing Bones, Castle, or Supernatural. The other third of the channel is The Librarian, Rizzoli and Isles, and the NBA. They have so little, but they try so hard.
They don’t even OWN Supernatural. They just use the reruns. Those brave little troopers.
What does any of this have to do with today’s Kitchen Catastrophe? Well, basically, I got stuck chasing a thread of Daytime television politics because I happened to turn on the TV at the wrong time. JJ and I had just wrapped up some work, and had an hour or two before rehearsal, so we were making lunch at my place. I turned on the TV and landed on a show called The Kitchen. It’s a talk show. On the Food Network. I was, to say the least, bewildered. How did this happen? It turns out, it’s the Food Network’s response to The Chew, an ABC show…starring multiple Food Network stars. At this point, I HAD to watch the Chew, if only to confirm that this all wasn’t some incredibly tepid fever dream. And luckily, I tuned it just as they offered something I care about: Peanut Sauce!
Bust A Nut
I’d claim I need to talk with someone about my title chapters, but I write them, so I’d have to talk to myself, and my psychiatrist said I needed to stop doing that. Of course, he was also me, so he may have just wanted some time off, who knows?
Anyway, as I feel I’ve alluded to before, but am currently too drunk to expend the energy to check: I like Thai food. And one of the big reasons for that is Thai Peanut Sauce. I don’t know what it is that exactly draws me to the topping, but I love that shit. I also really like Cucumber Salad. But that is irrelevant to the current discussion. Now, I could talk about the pork tenderloin that came with the sauce, but honestly, I’m trying to buy time before that, so LET’S GET SAUCY.
Sometimes, my jokes are references to centuries old literature. Other times, I look at an image, and the only joke that comes to mind is “That looks kinda like poop.” What a shitty joke.
Sauces are, in many ways, the foundation of my cooking expertise. My first real experiments in the kitchen came when I was making sauces for snacks at friends’ places during High School. We’d throw a bag of frozen chicken tenders in the oven, and I’d have 10 minutes to work something out. It’s a great way to introduce a child to cooking, as you can teach them the importance of balanced flavors, and experimentation, and waste no more than a single Pyrex dish of materials. So I’ve basically never taken a sauce at the base recipe. The original recipe for THIS sauce, for instance, had a crap-ton more lime juice, which internet posts pushed me away from, and was not nearly punchy enough for my taste. I’m the kind of guy who eats a Cajun turkey with Horseradish Cheddar and Chipotle Mayo sandwich, and doesn’t notice the heat. Further, their sauce was a lot thicker than I liked, so I added a fair bit of hot water to thin it. But the ultimate weapon I wielded was Sriracha and a secret companion: White Pepper.
Now, I’d love to play teacher, and explain the variations between white, green, pink, and black peppercorns, but unfortunately, my superiors…Oh, that’s right, I don’t HAVE SUPERIORS! The closest is Alan, as the editor, but that’s more a “Jon, that didn’t make sense” situation. Like, he’ll bring up “Hey, you went a little crazy, so I cut it,” And I’ll say “YOU WANT CRAZY?! I’LL SET YOUR PARAKEET ON FIRE.” And then he has to remind me that his parakeet was a figment of my drunken imagination, and- You know what, let’s get back to peppercorns. They’re actually really simple: Green, Black, and White are all the same plant. Pink and Szechuan are both different plants. Pick black peppercorns really early to get Green, peel off the outer layer of Black to get White. Boom. That’s a perfect peck of pre-pickled peppers (though you’re probably going to want to pickle the Greens, otherwise they’ll dry into Blacks.).
White Pepper is a little more aromatic and less biting than Black, because it lost its outer shell. It’s also a good choice if you’re super into your food being a consistent light tone. Chefs will use it in soufflés and mashed potatoes for this reason. But yeah, a full teaspoon of white pepper and a tablespoon or so of Sriracha, and we had the heat I liked.
Make the Moist of This World
Now, as I alluded to back in the COKE HAM post, I love pork products. Bacon, Ham, Pulled Pork, Pork Chops, Pork Loin, the list goes on. My love of pigs applies whether dead or alive. As such, I have eaten a lot of pig meat during my days. And I have gained great insight into the enigma of the Ham-beast. I can explain to you the differences between American, British, and Canadian Bacon. I can show you how to properly pet a pig. I’ve seen boars longer than I am tall, and sows so wide my track-star brother couldn’t jump them. I know that boar and sow are the gender-specific terms for pigs, like stallion and mare are for horses. What I’m saying, is that I am something of a pig expert.
This is why it’s important when I tell you this was the juiciest pork I’ve ever eaten.
“Sitting in a pool of its own juices” is a phrase that only works in cooking. And even then, just barely.
I’m dead serious. Hell, it was practically TOO juicy. I was put off by it! I felt like I had somehow pranked myself, like I’d learn I’d secretly eaten a water balloon made of meat! (Which, by the way, is a really fun and confusing insult to throw at someone.) And it’s so simple to make, there’s nowhere things can go wrong! You just buy the tenderloin in the bag, and pull the single tube of meat out onto the paper-
Things went wrong in the first second of the recipe. That’s a new record.
It’s weird, the things that can throw you. Trying to crack an egg and it explodes? You sigh, wipe up the mess, and toss it all in the garbage. Forget to use a hot pad when pulling a skillet out of the three-to-four HUNDRED degree oven it’s been in for at least ten minutes, and just use your bare hand? You dance about the room for a few moments like a drunken Capuchin, and chant a litany of curses under your breath, to convince the world you know voodoo, so your hands can’t catch fire.
But for some reason, pulling two tenderloins…It broke me for a minute. Like, what was I supposed to DO? I couldn’t just put one back in the bag. They were too big for Ziploc or Tupperware. I was briefly stupefied. Luckily, my gluttony and sloth both stepped forward suddenly “You know…” They started, whispering in my ear “It’s not like we could ONLY fit one on the roasting pan…Why not just cook them both. I mean, what if one’s not enough for the family? Better safe than sorry.” And thus egged on by phantom symbols of my greatest flaws, I committed and just cooked them both.
You Can Go Your Own Way
So I had meat, and I had sauce. But anyone can tell you that’s not a full meal. What you need beyond that is a starch. Or vegetables, but the idea of meats and starches going together is just heavily engrained in American cuisine. We don’t say “I’m a Meat and Frisée kind of guy.” You don’t see a head of baked Cauliflower next to your steak. So I wanted Starch, and it definitely wasn’t for my shirt collar.
The original recipe called for jasmine rice, sprinkled with chopped peanuts and cilantro, to round out the pseudo-Thai flavors. Personally, I didn’t have peanuts or jasmine rice. So instead, I made a wild-rice multigrain medley. Because I had a bag of those that took 10 minutes to prepare.
Minute Rice, I have a question. What the HELL IS THE OTHER NINE MINUTES FOR?
Now, one thing I love about rice is that it’s a lot like eggs, in that it’s a mostly neutral flavor base. Rice tends to taste like what you put in it. So, to accentuate and cut the pork and the rich sauce, I flavored mine with ½ tsp of Lemon Zest, and ½ tsp of white pepper.
I will confess that in the end, this meal was a bit of disappointment, because I forgot one of the simplest rules of cooking: balance. The meat was delicious, the sauce great, and the rice was fantastic. But there wasn’t quite enough of every part to sell it as a full meal. What the meal needed was something else on the plate. Maybe noodles, or a vegetable medley, or something. As it was, this was a great entrée. It just wasn’t a fantastic meal. So thank you, The Chew, for giving me half a great meal. I think, for perverse glee, I’ll pair it with something I cook from The Kitchen. Because screw network rivalry, it’s time for madness.
You know, I wonder if Peanut Sauce is just inherently non-photogenic. Like Gary Busey, or war crimes. There’s just no shot that makes them look good.
NEXT TIME: SOME EGGS-CELLENT RECIPES. ALSO, TINY MEAT EXPLOSIONS.
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1 Pork Tenderloin.
Salt & Pepper
½ cup smooth/creamy peanut butter
2 tbsps soy sauce ( low sodium if you have it)
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp lime juice (This one is VERY variable. The original recipe called for 2 whole limes, which is 4tbsps. Personally, I started around 2 tbsp, and worked it until I liked it)
½ tsp red chili flakes.
½ cup hot water (The original called for 1/3, plus more if needed. My batch DEFINITELY needed. )
1 tbsp Sriracha or other hot chili sauce. (optional)
1 tsp White Pepper. (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season tenderloin on all sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat 1 tbsp canola/vegetable oil over medium high heat in a large pan. Sear all sides of the tenderloin. Move to roasting rack or wire rack in baking sheet, and roast in oven until internal temp reaches 145, roughly 16 minutes. Let rest 5-7 minutes.
- Combine rest of ingredients in blender, blending until mixed. I recommend keeping extra hot water, lime juice, Sriracha, and hoisin, and adjusting the sauce to taste/preferred thickness.