Sure, we all know it's a good idea to go into the grocery story with a list and a plan. It pays to be prepared. But have you ever just impulsively bought something without knowing what you were going to do with it? I have that problem. I do that a lot.
The last time this happened to me, it was a mango that I bought on the spur of the moment. Sure, they were on sale for a good price, and yes, the mangoes were looking really great. But I can't say for sure what drew me to them. I shrugged, plopped a mango into my cart, and decided to figure it out later.
Fast forward to dinner a couple nights ago. How's this for an idea: Pork and Mango Coconut Curry. I got it in my head that I wanted the mango to be featured in a savory main course dish, rather than used for dessert or even ice cream, as I have done before. I had some pork to use, as well as half an open container of coconut milk. It was fated. I was going to do a curry!
I've never made a curry exactly like this before. The mango, along with sauteed onion, bell pepper, garlic, and spices, comprise the curried sauce of the dish. After these ingredients have had time to simmer and meld together, you puree the whole mixture. Once it is a nice, yellow sauce, you add the meat pieces directly into the pot and allow the hot liquid to poach the pork. It cooks completely through in about 10 minutes, and then you add the coconut milk and just continue heating the whole thing long enough to make it hot again (since the coconut milk cools it down).
I served the fragrant curry on a bed of cooked brown rice, after garnishing it with some chopped scallions. I was hopeful that this preparation method would pay off, and I was not disappointed. The curry was so delicious! It had such a deep, complex flavor. There was sweetness from the mango, spiciness from the curry powder, and a bit of tartness from the cider vinegar. The coconut milk made everything slightly creamy, but it didn't feel heavy or too rich. The pork was cooked right, and wasn't too tough or chewy as I feared it might be. I savored every bite of this, and I am happy to report that even Mr. Picky Pants (a.k.a my oldest son) ate his whole bowl! Sure, he'll eat curry, but I still have to practically tie him down to get him to eat a plain old potato or even a boring chunk of corn on the cob! Sigh, baby steps.
Pork and Mango Coconut Curry
adapted from Eats Well With Others
makes 4-6 servings
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 Tbsp. yellow curry powder (I used 1 Tbsp. hot curry powder and 1 Tbsp. of mild)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 mango, peeled and diced
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
1 lb. boneless pork loin, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup light unsweetened coconut milk
3 scallions, sliced, for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 cups cooked brown rice
1. In a Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the ground ginger, curry powder, and cumin and cook for another minutes, stirring the whole time to incorporate the spices fully.
2. Add the vinegar, water, and mango to the pot, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat. Use an immersion blender or a standing blender to puree the mixture; you can leave it slightly chunky if you prefer.
3. Add the pork cubes to the pan. Allow the pork to cook by poaching in the curry liquid, about 8-10 minutes on a medium-low heat. Remove a piece of pork and cut it in half to make sure the meat is cooked through.
4. Stir in the coconut milk, turn the heat down to low, and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, until the coconut milk is warmed through. Try not to let it boil so that the coconut milk will remain smooth. Once the curry is hot, turn off the heat and add the scallions, plus salt and pepper to taste.
5. To serve, spoon 1/2 cup of the brown rice into a shallow bowl, then cover with a couple scoops of the coconut curry.