Dinner for Two: Five Spice Pork with Asian Slaw

Dinner for Two

Quick recipes for you and your dinner mate.


[Photograph: Kerry Saretsky]

Lliving in London makes me really miss New York takeout. So many options. Thai. Persian. Ethiopian. And they were, without exaggeration, just around the corner. So, while I am always encouraging in this column that cooking at home is cheaper, healthier, and faster than takeout, I have to come clean that I have a fourth reason: I miss the flavors of New York delivery.

It was those forlorn Manhattan memories that inspired this meal. Like all Dinners for Two, it's easy and quick, but it's a little more exotic, and consequently, one of my favorites.

Start with lean pork loin and roll it in a crust of sea salt and Chinese five spice powder. I really am a huge proponent of buying regional spice blends. It's a great way to add a kick of China (or India, or Morocco, depending on the recipe), without having to invest in all the separate components. Five spice consists of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and fennel seeds, so it has a spicy, musky fragrance, and that really powerful sweetly spiced pungency that creates the most fascinating crust on the pork. Sear that in a pan and throw in some exotic mushrooms. They all roast together in the oven without any interference from me until the pork is juicy and the mushrooms are crisp and charred. They're done in just 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss together cabbage, cilantro, and green onions, with a light sauce of mayonnaise thinned with water, rice vinegar, and Sriracha. It's crisp and refreshing, but the rice vinegar and Sriracha pack so much flavor into all the veggies. Then slice the pork, place it on the slaw, and top it with the charred mushrooms and salted peanuts.

At first this looked more like a dinner for three than two, but within 15 minutes Mr. English and I had devoured the whole thing. It's light, it's lean. But it's satisfyingly and different. And for a little while, I didn't miss New York.