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  • Writer's pictureCarlos Sarmiento

Seared pork tenderloin and peaches braised in coconut milk & saffron, almonds and dates rice pilaf.

A maverick cook’s melding of flavors inspired by far away exotic locales.

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

Maverick...a term that I wholeheartedly identify with, now more than ever. According to Urban Dictionary, the meaning of the word Maverick is ”someone who refuses to play by the rules. He/she isn't scared to cross the line of conformity but their unorthodox tactics get results!”

Similarly to the protagonist of one of my favorite movies from the 1980’s (a hotshot naval aviator whose call sign was...Maverick), I often see myself not conforming to what the status quo dictates. Instead, I too, push the envelope, in the pursuit of something bold and innovative.

These two new dishes are a genuine reflection of this rebellious term. Here, I blend a myriad of seasonings, spices and ingredients influenced by Persian cuisine (the pilaf) and a belle melange...a beautiful combination where the Far East meets the Mediterranean (the pork tenderloin with peaches).

(Photo: Mehdi Torabi)

Saffron will be the rice pilaf’s shinning star. This spice comes from the Crocus sativus flower, often considered the “cousin” of the lily.

The saffron threads derives from the stigma and styles from within the flower itself. This spice can be quite expensive due to the difficulty of harvesting it. Farmers must harvest the delicate threads from each flower by hand.

The saffron threads are heated and cured to bring out its distinctive flavor.

(Photo: Mohammad Amiri)

Saffron has many health benefits including: antioxidants and other compounds that help reduce stress, fight cancer and prevent heart disease.

Similarly, almonds, another key ingredient to the rice dish, have the same health benefits of saffron yet also lowers the “bad” cholesterol.

(Photo: Jo.)

Bringing influences from the tropics, coconut milk becomes the highlighted element in the pork tenderloin dish.

Health benefits of coconut milk include: immune system booster, promotes weight loss and enhances heart health.

(Photo: Tijana Drndarski)

Bringing a hint of the Mediterranean to the pork dish, peaches blended with the coconut milk, add a delicate semi-sweet savoring that beautifully soothes the bold flavors of the spice-seared pork.

(Photo: Katie Moum)

Menu: Seared pork tenderloin and peaches braised in coconut milk & saffron, almonds and dates rice pilaf

Wine: 2017 Francis Coppola Diamond Collection - Red Label Zinfandel

This menu serves 4.

Dare to be bold?

Let’s get cooking!

Note: For the pork dish, a large cast iron pan is recommended, along with a lid that fits (aluminum foil can also be used to cover if a lid cannot be used).

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)



2 lbs lean pork tenderloin (I recommend Wild Fork Foods Pork Tenderloin)

2 tablespoons of ground paprika

1 tablespoon of ground ginger

1 tablespoon of garlic powder

1 tablespoon cracked pepper

1 tablespoon sea salt

3 large peaches (peeled and sliced in thick wedges)

1 cup of coconut milk

3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

8 large sprigs of fresh rosemary (4 for cooking and 4 for garnishing)

4 tablespoons of canola oil (I recommend Colavita Premium Canola Oil)


½ teaspoon saffron

1 small white onion, finely chopped

3 tablespoons canola oil (coconut oil can be used)

1 cup of rice (Basmati or Jasmine)

1 ½ cups broth (chicken or vegetable)

½ cup slivered almonds (recommend to slightly road them beforehand)

½ cup chopped dates

Salt and pepper to taste

8-12 small mint leaves (for final garnishing)



In a small bowl, mix the ground paprika, ground ginger, garlic powder, cracked pepper and sea salt. Rub the pork on all sides with the blend.

In a large cast iron pan on high heat, add the canola oil. Once it begins to sizzle, add the pork and allow it to sit and sear to a deep golden brown, then rotate and repeat on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side (don’t forget to sear the ends).

Add the peaches around the edges of the pork and cook while moving around for a minute. Add the garlic, rosemary and enough coconut milk to reach three-quarters of the way up the sides of the loin. Bring to a boil, then lower to a very low simmer and cover. Cook for half an hour, then flip the loin and cook for another half an hour (until tender).

Remove the loin to a plate and cover with aluminum foil for 10 minutes before slicing into 1-inch-thick sliced.


Crush the saffron with the back of a spoon and add it to a small dish with a couple of tablespoons of water. Stir together and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in the same pot you plan on cooking the rice in. 

Add the onions and cook until they are soft and nearly transparent. 

Add the broth, rice, and saffron/water mixture. Stir to evenly incorporate the saffron. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer, cover, and let cook for 30 minutes. 

Pull the rice from the heat and “fluff” it with a fork. 

Stir in the slivered almonds, dates, and salt, and pepper. 

(Video: Carlos Sarmiento)

Serve it up!

Family style:

The rice pilaf can be served on a deep platter, garnished with fresh mint leaves.

The pork, after it has been sliced into 1 inch thick slices, can be arranged in layers, surrounded by peaches and generously topped with the coconut sauce, garnished with fresh rosemary sprigs. Individual style:

On each individual plate, arrange a small heap of the rice pilaf one one side of the plate. Arrange a few slices of the pork, place one or two peach slices next to the pork and pour a small portion of the coconut sauce on top of the pork. Garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig and a few fresh mint leaves in between the rice and pork.

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

Wine pairing

A real-life maverick that I have always admired and has been one of my inspirations to have studied and become a filmmaker, is Academy Award-winning Writer-Producer-Director, Francis Ford Coppola.

This visionary maestro has masterfully straddled the motion picture and wine industries, yielding legendary films and exceptional wines...I am an equal fan of both.

As you can see, I am pairing these intrepid dishes with a smooth, fruity and peppery 2017 Francis Coppola Winery Diamond Collection - Red Label Zinfandel, California

(Available online vía Francis Ford Coppola Winery $15, also at most grocery stores and liquor stores $13-18).

For this type of dish you want a medium bodied red wine such as Zinfandel or Syrah (the above mentioned wine is a beautiful blend of 95% Zinfandel and 5% Syrah grapes).

Another great option would be a chilled Rose such as the 2018 Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection - Pinot Noir Rose.

(Available online vía Francis Ford Coppola Winery $18, also at most grocery stores and liquor stores $13-18).

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

Bon appetit! Cheers!


(Photo: Mick Haupt)

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1 Comment

Toni Menicocci
Toni Menicocci
Aug 25, 2020

Wow! Looks great!

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