Grilled Pork Double Loin Medallions with Watermelon-Passion Fruit Sauce

The title of this recipe may sound just too weird, but believe me, it is one of the dishes of which I am most proud, because it is not only stunningly beautiful (the colors on the plate are magnificent) but delicious as well. I developed it in the tropics, so it is a summer dish, and no work at all once the pork medallions are ready for the grill.

In Singapore, I served it with mashed ube, a yamlike tuber from the Philippines that when cooked keeps its bright lavender-purple color and tastes like a very rich sweet potato. On top of the medallion I put “spiced tropical fruit chutney,” using the little ripe “finger” bananas, rambutans, salak (Salacca edulis), mabolo (Diospyros discolor, or butter fruit), sweetsop (Annona squamosa, also called custard apple or sugar-apple), guanabana (Annona muricata or soursop), mangosteens, and lychees, all mixed in with a bit of fresh chili, “pili” nuts (Canarium ovatum, an ethereal nut tasting like a cross between a Brazil and a macadamia), and ginger flowers. These fruits are not available outside of Southeast Asia, so I have left out the chutney, but a superb one could be made in the summer with “mango” or “honeydew” nectarines.

Serve with mashed ube, mashed sweet potatoes, or cumin-flavored mashed potatoes with a tablespoon of finely chopped Indian lime pickle stirred into them.

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Ingredients

  • 3 pounds center-cut pork loin on the bone
  • 2 quarts wet brine
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4–6 ripe passion fruit (depending on size)
  • 8 fresh mint leaves
  • ½ teaspoon light sesame oil
  • 1 cup ripe red watermelon, put through a fine sieve
  • ¼ cup extra virgin light yellow olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon jasmine-cardamom-chili oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Trim the loin so that there is only ¼-inch of fat on top. Mix together the brine, bay leaves, allspice, and thyme. Put the loin in a pan just large enough to hold it and the liquid and pour the brine over the pork. Let it marinate overnight or at least 6 hours in the refrigerator.

When the pork is fully brined, remove it, wipe it dry, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Season the pork, heat a sauté pan over medium heat, sear the loin, and brown it on all sides, about 5 minutes. Put the loin in a roasting pan just large enough to hold it and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the loin and let it sit for 20 minutes in a warm place, covered with a piece of foil.

Cut the pork loin off the bone and then slice the boneless loin into four equal medallions.

Chop the basil and mix in a small bowl with the olive oil. Rub this basil oil all over the medallions, cover the pork loosely, and marinate for 2 hours.

Cut open the passion fruit, scoop out all the pulp and seeds, and put them through a fine sieve. Keep the sieved juice and put the pulp and seeds in another small bowl. Finely chop the mint and add it to the seeds. Mix in the sesame oil and season.

Grill the medallions over a real charcoal fire at medium heat (or broil on a bed of the basil marinade) for 5 minutes on each side, until heated through. Put the grilled medallions on hot plates. Mix the watermelon juice with a small pinch of salt and the extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl and stir briefly (do not emulsify). Spoon the watermelon sauce around the pork, put the reserved passion fruit seeds on top of each medallion, and then spoon the passion fruit juice erratically onto the watermelon sauce. Put a few drops of the jasmine-chili oil on each piece of pork.

Variations

Serve the pork with prunes soaked in either Armagnac or apple brandy, then heated 5 minutes with ½ cup chopped scallions, 1 tablespoon lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons cream. In Manila and Singapore, we served the medallions with whole hominy heated with fresh sage, ancho chili puree, and roasted mild green chilies, accompanied by a watercress and pecan salad, or with fried green tomatoes with sweet corn timbale.

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