Pork and Sumo Mandarin Sweet and Sour : You know that I love to cook, but I bet you didn’t know that I am a competition junky
I think it gives me the sense of adrenalin you get when you have to finish a task in a regulated time, something like cooking for 100 people on a Saturday night when they are all booked at 8 pm. It’s the feeling of reaching that finishing line with purpose and expectation, a feeling of completion. I love the excitement of standing back to look at what you have done. Imagining the possibilities, maybe conjuring the feeling that you are very good at something, even better than someone else, just for a moment in time. Is that wrong?.
It’s as much excitement as I am going to get at this stage of my life. Each competition, I always truly believe I am going to win, because you have to have faith and I treat a win like a visit to a therapist. The prize isn’t as important as the giant virtual pat on the back. Let us not speak of losing because to dwell there means giving up on entering competitions is an option.
When I was away on holidays recently I received several emails from a PR company asking if I could enter a competition and produce a recipe using Sumo Mandarins. I replied that I was away but the request was repeated, the company reasoned I would have enough time when I got back. I felt my restless competitive spirit squirm and before I knew it I had a couple of Sumo’s and these Pork chops on hand.
I was convinced entering was a good idea after I read a bit about these craggy looking fruits. In the 70’s a Japanese farmer began a quest to hybridise a mandarin with a large sweet naval orange. He didn’t want it to be like a tangerine, he wanted it to be larger and easier to peel, to have more of the mandarins characteristics with no seeds. His growing experiments produced the distinctive shape of the Sumo Mandarin ( known in Japan as Dekopon). It has a “top knot” and thick textured skin. Due to our strict quarantine laws it was 15 years before the seeds were released and the first trees planted here in Australia in 2006. That’s a long patient wait for the producers who have invested in the Sumo. Even now the season only lasts a brief month – August to September. You have to back a company that has this degree of commitment.
So my recipe features these monster mandarins in a savoury way. There were mostly desserts in the entries section. I am usually not a fan of fruit with cooked food but the Sumo’s do work well when cooked. They are so sweet I had to add a bit of an acidic kick to the sauce, and overall it looks and tastes great.
Here it is Pork Cutlet with Snow Peas and a Sweet and Sour Sumo Sauce.
The competition was finalized and a sweet mandarin panna cotta won BUT I still think this was a good idea. I am looking forward to next years Sumo Season
- 2 Pork Cutlets
- 1 teaspoon of Chinese Five spice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 12 snow peas
- 4 sprigs of coriander
- 3 Sumo Mandarins- You'll need 2 Squeezed into ¾ cup of juice and 1 separated into fillets
- ¾ cup of beef stock
- 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
- 1 very small clove of garlic
- 1 small onion cut into fine strips
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- a pinch of white sugar or to taste
- Mix the salt and spice together and rub this onto both sides of the cutlets. set aside
- Prepare the juice and mandarin segments, chop ½ the coriander and set aside the onion, garlic and snowpeas.
- Heat a deep frypan till hot and add 1 Table spoon of olive oil and the pork cutlets and sear till golden on both sides.Put the cutlets onto a baking sheet or tray and put into the oven for 10 minutes.
- Meantime, wipe the majority of the fat out of the pan and heat again adding olive oil if necessary. Saute the onion and garlic till it starts to soften.
- Mix the stock, juice, ginger, vinegar and sugar then add to the frypan. Simmer for 2 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary. (don't reduce too much)
- Take the cutlets out of the oven and rest.
- Add the snowpeas and leave over the heat tossing a little,only till the snow peas are just steamed and still crunchy and green then toss through the Sumo mandarin segments and mix with the sauce.
- Add some chopped coriander to the sauce and serve with extra sprigs
- Spoon the sauce and the mandarins over the pork.
- I served mine with some shards of pork crackling and rice.