The Emeraude, a retrofitted paddle steamer, now sails the breadth and width of Halong Bay in Vietnam. We slid through the bay trying to catch glimpses of famous landmarks and small islands from her decks; our first views were disappointing - we saw only shadows of outcroppings that were buried in layers of thick fog. The mist made the mildly cool air feel cold and the wail of distant foghorns and buoy bells did nothing to cheer the spirit or stay the creeping damp. Refusing to surrender to the elements, I climbed to the observation deck, ordered a tall glass of Vietnamese iced coffee (good stuff that), claimed a deckchair and sat down, camera ready, waiting for the elements to bend to my will. Several hours and cups of hot coffee later the weather broke. Before I go any further, I must tell you that I'm a reader who loves movies and I've developed an especial fondness for edgy female characters. Smilla (Smilla's Sense of Snow), Karen Blixen (Out of Africa) and Eliane Devries (Indochine) come to mind. So, when the ship sailed past the rock formations that were the backdrop for scenes in the movie Indochine, I was so excited that I dropped my cup, grabbed my camera and didn't put it away until I lost the light. As you flip through the pictures of Halong Bay I hope that some of you will experience a bit of deja vu. I surely did. While on the Emeraude, I had the good fortune to meet and speak with the ship's executive chef, Nguyen Thac Thiet. He, like many of the chefs in southeast Asia, is French trained. Today's recipe is one of his babies; it's a fusion of Asian and French technique. The marinade is decidedly Asian, the remainder of the recipe is decidedly French. Chef runs a tight ship in tiny quarters and he produces delicious food. This is a very, very nice recipe. It was the most popular item at the dinner buffet. I know you'll enjoy it. It's also easy to do.
Pork Indochine - Grilled Pork with Mustard Sauce
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut in 1/2-inch slices
2-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided use
1/4 cup chopped scallions + green tops for garnish
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
Lemon juice to taste (optional)
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1) Lightly sprinkle pork medallions with salt and pepper. Place pork in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon mustard, 1/4 cup scallions, 1 tablespoon garlic and brown sugar; toss to mix well. Let sit for 45 minutes.
2) While pork marinates, melt butter in a medium (10-inch) skillet with high sides. Add onions and cook until onions are coated with butter. Add reserved 1 teaspoon garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant. Add chicken broth and boil until onions are soft and liquid is reduced by half. Stir in cream and 1-1/2 tablespoon reserved mustard. Cook over low heat until mixture thickens and coats a spoon. Stir in lemon juice and tarragon if using. Adjust seasoning as required (remember mustard is salty). Keep warm.
3) Preheat broiler or grill. Arrange pork slices on a broiler pan or greased grill rack and cook for 2-1/2 minutes per side. Transfer pork to serving platter. Spoon mustard sauce over pork and serve. Yield: 4 servings.