Pig on a roller-coaster

We rarely cook pork without using spices to add piquant notes which complement the sweet and savoury qualities of good quality pork. I have previously written about two of the ways we do this – here and here.

In this substantially modified version of a Karen Martini recipe, four distinct, strong and contrasting ingredients are combined to make a rub, without the presence of any mollifying agents such as salt, oil or sugar.

The impact on the tongue is something of a culinary roller-coaster ride – startling, thrilling and, once your palate has settled, an experience you will look forward to repeating.


1½ tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp orange zest
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves finely chopped
2 or 3 thin pork steaks or medallions, about 250g in total
10g butter
50 ml orange juice
1 tsp sweet sherry
100 ml chicken stock
salt flakes for seasoning


  1. Combine fennel seeds, peppercorns, orange zest and rosemary leaves in a blender until you have a coarse powder. Press one quarter to one third of the mixture onto the chops and set aside for 30 minutes. (The leftover rub can be stored in a container in your freezer.)
  2. Heat butter in a small heavy-based pan over medium heat and brown pork for 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a warm dish.
  3. Add orange juice and sherry, bring to a busy simmer and reduce by half. Add stock, return to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning. (At this point, we sometimes use some cornflour or similar to thicken the sauce a little more.)
  4. Return pork to pan, heat through and serve.

Pork with rub 1   Pork with rub 2

Pork with rub 3

Pork with rub 4   Pork with rub 5

For side-dishes, we usually choose a plain green vegetable, eg fresh beans, and one of the orange-coloured vegetables, eg carrot, sweet potato; regular potatoes do not work with the flavours of the spiced pork and its gravy.

This time, I took some peeled and cubed Jap pumpkin, sprinkled it liberally with salt to reduce its water content, dried it off, tossed it in olive oil, added some thin slices of garlic and roughly chopped sage leaves and baked it for about 30 minutes. Then I sprinkled it with some coarse bread crumbs and baked it for a further 15-20 minutes. I also steamed some whole baby beetroot until al dente tender, peeled them, cut them into chunks and dressed them with a combination of sour cream, Dijon mustard and finely-chopped (minced) pieces of toasted walnut. All very tasty and satisfying.

Pork with rub 6

About rmgtravelsandfood

Maggie and I are both in our late 60s and live in Melbourne, Australia. This blog is devoted to our shared passions for travel and fine dining at home. As cooks, we are skilful and adventurous within a framework of mainly traditional ingredients and techniques, and we aim to prepare nutritious food that looks good and tastes delicious. Our evolving repertoire is influenced by both our travels and Melbourne's vibrant food culture. From 2008 to early 2020, our priority travel destinations were overseas, although we have always spent a bit of time each year exploring parts of Australia. Our first overseas journey together was to Italy in the northern autumn of 2008. We later travelled in France (2009), Spain (2011), Singapore and Cambodia (2012/13). Most of our international adventures from 2014 to 2020 are covered in this blog. We have now reached a time in our lives when the prospect of long flights to distant places are unappealing, so we will travel mainly within Australia or to countries that are close to home.
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