Pork Nuggets & Polynesian Macaroni SaladThe Zen of deep frying goes like this: a calming method that involves accurate portions and timing and a deep-fry thermometer.

I was very pleased with all of it, in the “Pork Nuggets with Pineapple-Mustard Sweet & Sour Sauce,” from the October 2014 issue of Cuisine at Home (recipe below). My pork was brown in crispy in 3 minutes. My sauce was very sweet, thick, and quite spicy.

Pork Nuggets with Pineapple-Mustard Sweet & Sour Sauce
Cuisine at Home, October 2014
Makes 4 servings; 1 1/2 cups sauce

For the sauce, heat:
1 can crushed pineapple in juice (8 oz.)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. prepared yellow mustard
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. water
Salt to taste

For the nuggets, combine:
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 cup whole milk
1 egg
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb.), trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Canola oil

For the sauce, heat pineapple, sugar, vinegar, mustard, ginger, and pepper flakes in a saucepan over medium until it simmers.

Combine 1 Tbsp. cornstarch and water, then whisk into sauce until sauce thickens; season with salt.

For the nuggets, combine 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1 tsp. salt, and cayenne in a bowl. Whisk together milk and egg in a separate bowl. Combine panko and remaining 1 tsp. salt in a third bowl.

Toss pork pieces with cornstarch mixture to coat. Dip pork in milk-egg mixture; let excess drip off, then coat in panko mixture, pressing to adhere.

Heat 2 inches of oil in a large saucepan over medium-high to 350 degrees F. Fry pork, in 3 batches, until golden, 3 minutes per batch. Transfer nuggets to a paper-towel-lined plate and season with salt. Serve nuggets with sauce.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Know this about the pineapple sauce: you need not look for a can of “crushed” pineapple. Instead, I drained a 14-oz. can of pineapple chunks, and crushed them myself in my food processor. Easy. I added 1 tsp. salt to my sauce.

As I said, you’ll feel a certain enlightenment by setting out your three bowls -- one with the cornstarch mix (I swapped the cayenne pepper with smoked paprika instead), one with the milk and egg, one with the panko. Then you cut the pork into little 1-inch pieces, all while bringing your big pot of oil to 350 degrees F. The recipe’s measurements are accurate, reliable. Your triumph is in the crispy brown pork nuggets, fried in 3 minutes.

Paired with the pork recipe, in the same October 2014 issue of Cuisine at Home, was one for “Polynesian Macaroni Salad” (recipe below), which made me giggle. Why is this Polynesian? Is it because it sits beside a pineapple sauce? Is it because rice vinegar and soy sauce and pickled ginger are in the mix? I don’t know. It’s a stretch. But hey -- it’s delicious!

Polynesian Macaroni Salad
Cuisine at Home, October 2014
Makes 4 servings (5 cups)

8 oz. dry elbow macaroni
1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup whole milk
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. minced pickled ginger
2 tsp. sugar
4 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper

Cook macaroni in a pot of boiling salted water according to package directions drain. Rinse macaroni with hot water, and thoroughly drain again. Transfer macaroni to a large bowl and immediately stir in vinegar until fully absorbed.

Whisk together mayonnaise, milk, soy sauce, ginger, and sugar.

Stir mayonnaise mixture into macaroni with scallions and bell pepper. Serve salad immediately or chill until ready to serve.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I have such a weak spot for a mayonnaise-based macaroni salad. This one is tangy, thanks to the rice vinegar and pickled ginger. I just wanted to keep eating more and more of it. You will too. Try it.

Canned Pineapple Chunks (14 oz.) = $2.64
Pork Tenderloin (1 lb.) = $7.39
Elbow Macaroni (8 oz.) = $1.00

PREP TIMES: little time needed for the pork prep, it’s just the waiting for the oil to come to temperature; after you boil your macaroni, it’ll wait for you to sauce and mix
crispy fried pork is awakened by sweet, spicy pineapple; mayonnaise macaroni salad is tangy with rice vinegar and pickled ginger

Next time, I’ll step away from all this deep-fried meat and make the “Baked Tofu Stir-Fry With Cabbage & Shiitakes,” from the September/October 2014 issue of Eating Well. Come back to my site next week to witness this one.