Art imitating life. At least that’s how it looks.
Like the man himself, his book stands out from the crowd. It’s big (416 pages), it’s wildly colorful and it’s filled with food and stories that scream GUY! What would you expect from a chef who’s TV persona is larger than life. No matter what you may think about his culinary chops, it always looks like he’s living life to the fullest. I like that.
Reading though his latest cookbook, Guy Fieri Food: Cookin’ It, Livin’ It, Lovin’ It, you get the sense that he loves his trade. I’m sure there are those that take one look down their nose at the cover and sniff. But, they should take the time to crack the spine. There is some serious business in there.
I don’t really have a set routine when it comes to evaluating a new cookbook. One thing I do know, I’m going to cook something from it. No preconceived idea of what that something might be, but, something. Whatever might catch my eye from a stunning food image (oh, I can make that) to a super engaging recipe title is fair game.
One thing that struck me as I was paging through this meaty tome, was the complexity of the recipes. This was not home kitchen fluff. These were complex, multi component recipes with some ingredients that most people don’t have stocked in their pantries. This isn’t a complaint, this is a pleasant surprise.
I consider myself to be a fairly competent home chef. One a scale of one to ten, I would give myself a seven (OK, maybe six and a half). I can perform most basic skills and have a pretty good idea of what should go with what. I also have a great array to toys (I mean tools).
My search for the perfect “Guy” dish ended when I turned to page 220 and saw the Watermelon Pork Tacos.
This recipe has a bunch of great, but at the same time dissimilar ingredients. After I read through it a couple of times I thought, “OK, I can do this one”. In reality, it was harder than I thought.
The thing that makes this spin on the usual taco so unique, is the Asian influence paired with the decidedly not so Asian watermelon.
Fresh summer watermelon makes this a great seasonal dish.
Here’s a look at the pork. All trimmed up, sliced, marinated and ready for the grill.
Making the marinade is easy enough. Lots of ingredients. There was one thing that did get my attention when I was putting it all together. The possible heat potential of that marinade. A chopped Serrano pepper and red chili flakes are both in there. As you can see from the above image, there is chopped ginger and garlic too.
Looks great after coming off the grill. The cooking time was right on too. Three minutes per side, then three minutes resting. Want to see how it all turned out? Sure you do.
WOW, is right! As Guy would say “Off the hook!”. They actually tasted even better than they looked. My worry about the heat level of the finished product was totally unfounded. It did not have a huge pepper burst to it at all. I think some of the Asian elements (sesame oil, oyster sauce and rice vinegar) may have tamed some of that. Just a theory.
Here’s How To Do It
Ingredients – Pork
1 whole pork tenderloin, silverskin removed & cut into 1inch thick slices
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 tsp. red chili flakes
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped
1 Tbsp. Serrano chile, seeded & minced
2 Tbsp. garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
Ingredients – Vinaigrette
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. sesame oil
Ingredients – Salsa
1 cup watermelon, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup English cucumber, seeded & cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 Haas avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 head romaine lettuce
To make the pork, combine all of the pork ingredients except the pork slices in a small bowl. Mix well. In a gallon Ziploc bag, add the pork slices and the marinade. Seal and marinate for 30 minutes.
While the pork is marinating mix all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette together in a small bowl. In a medium sized bowl, mix together all of the salsa ingredients. Pour the vinaigrette into the salsa and mix gently. Be careful not to crush the watermelon or guacamole-ize the avocado.
Trim off the dark green ends of the romaine and cut off the root end. Separate, wash and dry the leaves. These will be the “shells” for the tacos. Place in fridge until ready to use.
Heat your grill to medium. Remove the pork slices from the marinade. Grill 3 minutes on each side. Remove from grill and rest 3 minutes. Take pork to a cutting board and chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Fill lettuce shells with pork, top with salsa and enjoy.
Recipe Adapted From Watermelon Pork Tacos, Guy Fieri, Guy Fieri Food: Cookin’ It, Livin’ It, Lovin’ It.
Notes: This thing looks and reads through easy enough, but, it’s deceptive. Lots of ingredients and a fair amount of prep. I think once you’ve made it one time, the next attempt would be a lot smoother. It was a nice light, summertime meal. I’ll be a repeat customer for sure.
BONUS: Since we only had two people eating a recipe sized for six, we had a fair amount of pork leftover. I’m not one to just pitch some great seasoned meat. So, day two, a more traditional taco, with the fantastic untraditional pork filling. This was great too!
THE BOTTOM LINE: If you like Guy’s style both in the kitchen and on the tube, you’ll love his book. It’s him to a T. You won’t be disappointed.
Be ready for some challenging recipes. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of culinary security by the sometimes brief instructions. These dishes are worth the effort in the end. But, getting there can be a little challenging.
Author: Guy Fieri
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks (May 3, 2011)