In the course of my adventurous summer with food, when I tried ingredients I’ve never eaten or cooked before, I picked up a rutabaga. Also called swede, yellow turnip, or wax turnip, it is part smooth, part rough/hairy/bumpy, hard and so foreign to me. I laughed when I got home because I absolutely had no idea what it tasted like. I just assumed it can be boiled. Peeling it revealed what looks like a raw sweet yellow potato flesh. Trying to cut into it tested my patience. Be very careful when slicing it raw. Save your hands and fingers. They are tough little buggers that could roll off your cutting board and kitchen counter if you don’t hang on to them.
Ever since I got it, I can only think of cooking it with coconut milk. No idea why, it just sounded delicious at the time. Then someone from Twitter asked me if I use turmeric in my cooking, and I replied ‘No’, so the next day I decided to remedy that and added the ginger-family spice. It made the rutabaga in this recipe even yellower. In Medieval Europe, turmeric was known as “Indian Saffron” due to its wide use as an alternative to the pricier saffron, and it is a significant ingredient in commercial curry powders, thus the resulting taste and color of a curry dish:
It was just the right blend of subtle flavors, without overpowering the rutabagas. Biting into each chunk of rutabaga feels like biting into a vegetable that is a cross between a turnip and squash, without the latter’s mushiness but a hint of its taste. I love that it holds its shape without easily disintegrating when cooked. The peppers were a nice complement to the rutabaga and coconut milk, and the turmeric added just enough character to the taste of the dish. Having this for dinner one quiet, dreary evening brought a smile to my face. I just love it when my food experimentation works out. Mmmmm….
Pork Cutlets with Rutabagas & Green Peppers in Coconut Milk
- 1/2 lb tenderized pork loin cutlets
- 1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1- to 1.5-inch chunks
- 1/2 small yellow onion, sliced
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
- 1/8 tsp ground turmeric
- sea salt
- fresh ground pepper
- canola oil
- coconut oil
1. In boiling water with a pinch of salt, cook the chunks of rutabaga until tender; about 25 to 30 minutes in medium heat. Strain and set aside.
2. Heat a large frying pan, with about 1/2-tablespoon canola oil, in medium-to-high heat. Once the oil is hot, cook each side of the pork cutlet till golden brown (not burnt), about 3 to 4 minutes each side.
3. Lower the heat to medium and add 1/2-teaspoon coconut oil. Saute the onion slices for a few minutes until they become transparent, and then add the chopped garlic and bell pepper slices. Cook for a couple more minutes before adding the rutabaga chunks. Fry until the edges of the rutabaga begin to brown.
4. Pour coconut milk, turmeric, and a pinch of salt. Stir and wait for it to boil before adding more salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
Serve over the pork cutlets and enjoy with steamed rice.