Marinated Pork Medallions with Melted Leeks

Marinated pork medallions with melted leeks soba sauce marinade yuzu kosho
Special occasions call for special ingredients—this recipe is super simple if you start with ordinary bottled Japanese soba sauce (the kind used for dipping buckwheat noodles) and a relish called yuzu koshō that can be bought off the shelf.* These are both easily available online, if you don’t have an Asian market near you.

Have a special occasion coming up, and want to try something new that’s guaranteed to have your guests begging for seconds? These marinated pork tenderloin medallions are so deliciously tasty that they always get rave reviews, even from people who “don’t like Japanese food.” (Bonus: they’re easy to make and turn out perfect every time)

Marinating time: 4-12 hours
Sous vide cooking time: 1 hour

Soba Sauce Marinade

Makes 1 cup (235 ml)

1 c. (235 ml) soba sauce (check to make sure it’s “straight,” not concentrated—if you buy the concentrated kind, dilute before measuring.)

1 t. (10g) yuzu koshō relish

1 T. (15ml) sake

1 T. (15ml) mirin

1 t. (15g) sugar

Whisk all together until blended.

Marinated Pork Medallions with Melted Leeks

Serves 4-6

2 pork tenderloins, sliced crosswise into 1″ medallions

1 c. (235 ml) Soba Sauce Marinade

4-6 leeks (or 2-3 bunches of green onions, if you can’t find leeks)

1/2 t. (10g) yuzu koshō relish (or more, if you like it spicier)

2 T. (30ml) olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Arrange pork medallions close together in a single layer in a big sealable baggie.

Stir the marinade, then pour it into the baggie. Remove as many air bubbles as possible before sealing.

Here’s how I get the air bubbles out (this is also the easiest way to seal bags for sous vide!): Seal the top of the baggie except for the last 2″. Fill your biggest pot (or the bottom of the salad spinner, if you have a big one) with cool water, then slowly lower the baggie straight into the water until only the last corner is sticking out. As you lower the last bit in, seal the baggie before water gets in.

Refrigerate for 4-12 hours.

Wash leeks carefully. Trim off root ends and slice as thin as possible. Use only the pale green part and stop before you get to the leaves (if you start to see dark sand trapped between the layers, stop before the grit gets into your leeks). If you’re using green onions, trim off the roots, then slice the entire onions, including the white parts and the green tops.

I used a mandoline to slice the leeks, but you can easily do it with a knife too. Slice them thin, like this

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and yuzu koshō relish. Stir until yuzu koshō is distributed evenly. Sprinkle salt to taste and grind black pepper over all. Stir until leeks are soft, but not browned. Set leek mixture aside in a bowl while you cook the meat.

I’m going to show you two ways to cook the meat

The best way to cook the pork medallions is in a beer cooler.

The fancy name for it is sous vide, but all you need is a beer cooler, an instant read thermometer, baggies, and hot water. I learned how to do this from Kenji Lopez-Alt’s Serious Eats website but if you scroll down a little further, I’ll give you the short step-by-step version here. The way it works is that you surround the meat with water that’s their ideal final internal temperature. When the meat becomes the same temperature as the water, it’s perfectly cooked. Once the interior of the meat is at the perfect temperature, the medallion baggies can rest in the hot water until the rest of your meal is ready, without getting overcooked. A brief pan sear at the end to brown the outsides and they turn out insanely juicy and barely pink inside, perfect every time.

Why I love sous vide, especially when cooking for guests:
• They come out perfect, every time, never overcooked.
• All the pieces are cooked perfectly, even if they aren’t the same size
• They can “rest” in the hot water until the rest of your meal is ready, so if people take a little longer coming to the table or your sides aren’t quite cooked on time, no problem.

And the best reason of all: your guests will be open-mouthed with amazement that you’re cooking dinner IN A BEER COOLER.

How to cook them sous vide:

1: Drain the marinade from the baggies before cooking. Reseal each bag except for about 2″ at the corner. Fill a big pot with cool water and slowly submerge the bag straight down into the water, forcing out the air bubbles, and ending with everything submerged except the last open corner. Seal the last bit. (It’s not possible to get every speck of air out between the slices, but you want the baggie to be as tight as possible around the meat. Air bubbles act like insulation and keep the water from heating the meat, so use the water immersion method to get most of them out.) Poke any medallions that have shifted, until they are in a single layer again.

2: Fill your beer cooler halfway with boiling water. Add cool water until your instant read thermometer reads 138°-140°F (59°-60°C). Completely submerge your bags of pork medallions in the water. Close the lid.

I cook mine to 138°-140°F (59°-60°C), but if you like your tenderloin less pink, use this handy guide from the SeriousEats website.

3: Set your timer for five minutes and put more water on to boil. When the timer goes off, check the temperature of the beer cooler water with your thermometer. If it’s fallen below your target temperature, remove a few cups of water and replace them with boiling water until it’s a degree or two above your ideal temp.

4: Keep topping up the hot water for an hour. If your cooler has good insulation, you’ll only have to do this every ten minutes or so, but be sure the water doesn’t fall below the original temperature for very long, or your meat won’t be cooked all the way through.

To finish: Put a little more oil in the skillet and while it heats to shimmering, put paper towels on a cutting board and take the medallions from the baggies, blotting off the cooking juices. Sear the medallions for a minute in the frying pan, turning once. Move to serving plate and top each with a forkful of melted leeks.

Now watch them disappear!

If you don’t want to try sous vide, here’s how to make them in a pan:

Add a little more olive oil to the pan, and when it’s shimmering, reduce heat to medium-high and add half the pork medallions to the skillet. Let the medallions cook without touching them for 3 minutes.

Flip them over with a spatula—it’s okay if they stick a bit. Cover with a lid and cook for 3 more minutes.

Move the first half to a plate and cover with foil while you cook the other half.

Move all the medallions to your serving plate and drop a forkful of melted leeks atop each one.

About the ingredients:

Soba sauce

Here are just a few of the varieties available from Amazon. Soba sauce is a savory soy-based sauce that’s made with dashi, the Japanese soup stock. You’d never guess it’s based on smoked bonito flakes, because it doesn’t taste the least bit fishy. “Straight” means you don’t have to dilute it.

Some of the soba sauces available on Amazon

Yuzu Koshō relish

Here are just a few of the varieties available from Amazon. You want the green kind, not the weird red kind, and jars are usually better quality than tubes. Yuzu koshō is a spicy condiment made from very finely grated yuzu citrus peel and togarashi peppers, but it’s not nearly as spicy as horseradish, Tabasco, or sriracha (unless you use a LOT of it!)

Some of the yuzu kosho relishes available on Amazon

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Jonelle Patrick writes mystery novels set in Tokyo, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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