It has been years since I made this delicious pork and papaya dinner, I forgot how incredibly easy it comes together. The dressing in this recipe may look familiar to you, I also use it in this Vietnamese Beef and Spicy Herb Salad.
1 cup rice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 shallot (or sub a product like French's French Fried Onions)
12-ounce pork tenderloin
2 cloves garlic
1 serrano chile
1/2 bunch fresh mint
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3-4 cups mixed salad greens
Kosher salt and pepper
Cook rice according to package directions. Uncover, fluff with a fork, and set aside.
Peel shallot and thinly slice. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a small pan over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add sliced shallot and cook until crispy. Move to a paper towel lined plate to drain, sprinkle with a little Kosher salt and set aside until the end. Alternatively, you can use a french fried onion product to finish the meal.
Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook tenderloin until well browned all over, 5 to 7 minutes. The best test of doneness is to use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of your pork, we are looking for 150 degrees. Transfer to a plate to rest.
A note about pink pork
The pork of yesteryear was always cooked till gray, but that pork was a lot fattier than what's on the market today. Selective breeding has made today's pork much leaner, and if you cook it till gray, the meat will be dry and tough. We think the leanest cuts—like tenderloin—are best cooked to 150 degrees. At this point, the meat will still have a tinge of pink in the center. Since large cuts of pork, like our tenderloin increase approximately 10 degrees while resting, remove them from the heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Peel and mince garlic. Rinse serrano, lop off the top, slice in half and remove seeds. I recommend wearing gloves for this prep. Slice the papaya in half and scoop out seeds, discard. Thinly slice the papaya, then turn on its side and cut off the peel. You should have beautiful salmon colored half moons left. Rinse mint and cilantro and pick leaves, discarding stems.
To make the dressing, whisk together garlic, chile, brown sugar, fish sauce, and juice of 2 limes in a large bowl. Add the sliced papaya, mint and cilantro leaves, and toss to coat. Add the salad greens and toss one more time.
Divide the rice between plates, top with salad mixture. Slice the pork into ¼-inch medallions and lay on top of the salad. Sprinkle with crispy shallot and serve.