Sometimes a dish is so unusual and so tantalizing, that I find myself thinking about it long after the last bite. That was my experience at Jean Georges’ Nougatine in New York recently. The minute I tasted the hake fillet (a mild white fish similar to cod) served sashimi style, drizzled with a rhubarb/balsamic dressing, I knew it was special.
Made with finely diced uncooked rhubarb, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a generous seasoning of freshly ground black pepper, the sauce was simple, but assertive and definitely the secret to the dish. At home, I tried my own version, adding a hint of soy sauce for a salty note. Instead of pairing this rhubarb sauce with raw fish, I opted for grilled pork tenderloin steaks rubbed with crushed rosemary, kosher salt, and pepper.
The sauce, with its crunchy bits of rhubarb, took only minutes to assemble, and made a perfect partner to the tender pork. To complete this spring menu, add a watercress and Belgian endive salad and some turmeric-scented couscous as sides.
2 pork tenderloins, 1 1/4 pounds each, trimmed of excess fat
4 1/2 teaspoons crushed dried rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil for oiling the grill
Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish
Rhubarb Balsamic Sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons finely diced (1/4 inch cubes) rhubarb
1. In a small bowl, mix together the dried rosemary, salt, and pepper. Then rub the seasoning mixture over all sides of the tenderloins. Let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
3. Cut tenderloins on the diagonal into 1-inch thick slices.
4. For the sauce, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, pepper, and salt. Then whisk in the olive oil. Season with a little extra salt and pepper if desired. Add the rhubarb and let sauce rest at room temperature for 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.
5. Oil a grill rack and arrange it 4 to 5 inches from heat source. Prepare grill for a medium fire (medium temperature). When ready, grill pork tenderloin steaks, turning several times, until a meat thermometer registers 145 degrees F, when inserted into the thickest part of the steaks, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Watch carefully as cooking time can vary depending on the type of grill used and the intensity of the heat. Serve 2 or more slices per person, and spoon some rhubarb/ balsamic sauce over the pork. Serves 5 to 6.