Posted by: timscooking | March 30, 2010

A Taste of Coastal Mexico

Over ten years ago, a friend suggested we try something different for a vacation, a trip to coastal Mexico, specifically the Riviera Maya region south of Cancun. That first trip got us hooked and we’ve been back many times to the small Caribbean town of Playa de Carmen and more recently to the Pacific coast town of Puerto Vallarta. One of the things that we love the most is the variety of food available. It is nothing like the food available in most Mexican restaurants here in the States which feature the cuisine of the border towns and interior cities. The coastal cuisine differs in that it uses more ingedients like pineapple, coconut, papaya and mango in food preparation so the food tends to have a lighter, more tropical flavor.

Since Spring seems to be slow in coming, I thought that a meal that would remind us of those trips would brighten our week. I made a pork dish with pineapple salsa and coconut rice. I used boneless center cut pork chops. You could use a pork tenderloin or, if you are grilling outside, you might even try some meaty country ribs. If you like fish, try this with mahi mahi.

  • 2 center-cut boneless pork chops (approx. 1 lb. total) 
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil. divided 
  • 1 tsp. ground chipotle chili powder                 
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices (many stores have these already peeled and cored)
  • 1/4 c.  finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tbsp. jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 tbsp. minced red bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Fresh cilantro sprigs, for garnishing
  • Cilantro Oil, for drizzling, recipe follows
  • Coconut Rice, recipe follows

Directions

Rub the pork chops all over with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, then sprinkle evenly with the chipotle chili powder, 1 tsp. of the salt, the pepper, and the oregano. Rub the chops well with the garlic and drizzle the 1 tbsp. lime juice over all. Allow the chops to sit, refrigerated, for at least 1 hour and up to 4 before cooking.

About 40 minutes before serving, prepare the Coconut Rice.

  • 1 c. coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1 c. long grain white rice
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, water, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Add the rice, stir well, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer undisturbed until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is fluffy, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit without stirring for 10 minutes.

Fluff with a fork and add the cilantro. Adjust seasoning, to taste. Serve hot.

Preheat your grill pan to medium high.

Brush the pineapple slices lightly with 1 tbsp. of the olive oil, then place the pineapple slices on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until softened slightly and nicely marked by the grill, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and allow to cool to room temperature. Dice the pineapple slices and place in a medium non-reactive bowl. Add the red onion, remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, remaining pinch of salt, jalapeno pepper, red bell pepper, and chopped cilantro and stir to combine. Set aside while you grill the pork.

Place the chops in the grill pan and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to low and continue to cook, turning occasionally, until a thermometer inserted into the center registers 145 degrees F. Remove the chops from the grill and allow to sit, loosely covered, for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Slice the chops on the diagonal and serve with the grilled pineapple salsa and coconut rice. Drizzle with Cilantro Oil.

Cilantro Oil:

  • 1/4 c. fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tbsp. fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Place herbs in a blender and pulse 5 – 6 times. Turn the blender on low and slowly add oil to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper.

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Responses

  1. Ahh I can hear the waves now….. and taste that yummy food!


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