At La Vista restaurant at Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort in Costa Rica, Executive Chef Jose Prendas pulls a rabbit—or pig—out of his hat with his signature dish. By Lisa Rogak

Pork may not seem like the most Caribbean dish out there (unless it’s barbecued), but at Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, Executive Chef Jose Prendas is making his Pork Illusion entrée a natural fit for the fresh flavors and ingredients of the region.

Typically, Prendas revels in using fresh seafood and local fruits and vegetables, but because the resort’s clients are from all over the world, he also aims for international appeal. “It’s a fine balance,” he says.

Pork Illusion: serves 4

1-1/2 lb. pork tenderloin, cut into 4 portions
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 bottle ale
2 tbsp. butter
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 slices uncooked bacon, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
12 oz. beef stock, divided Bouquet garni (bundle of fresh herbs like bay leaf, thyme, and parsley)
2 tbsp.tomato paste
2 c. cooked long-grain rice
1/4 c. sweet chili sauce
1 large zucchini, very thinly sliced and lightly grilled
6 oz. fig demiglace, or substitute 3 oz. fig jam mixed with 2 oz. water
1 red bell pepper
4 sprigs cilantro
4 cherry tomatoes
1 fig, sliced into 4 wedges
2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 325°F. Season pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large ovenproof skillet and sear marinated pork in pan on both sides until lightly browned. Add ale to pan and heat until liquid boils. Remove from stove and set in preheated oven for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare béchamel sauce:
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Add carrot, onion, and bacon and cook for 10 minutes or until tender. Add flour, stirring until lightly browned. Slowly pour in 1 cup of the stock, stirring constantly until mixture thickens slightly. Add bouquet garni, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add remaining stock and tomato paste and cook for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Strain sauce through a sieve, skim off fat, and adjust seasoning.

Warm the demiglace over low heat. Stir the béchamel sauce and sweet chili sauce into the rice. Line 4 half-cup square molds with the grilled zucchini strips, and pack the rice into the molds, making sure that the zucchini covers the rice. Heat one tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan and sauté the cherry tomatoes and figs until tender. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, slice each tenderloin into six pieces. Place two tablespoons of demiglace onto a plate and arrange pork slices on top. Unmold the rice and zucchini, and arrange bell pepper and cilantro sprig on top. Spoon one tablespoon of demiglace onto the place and set tomato and fig on top.