What’s For Dinner – 5-Spice Pork Tenderloin


This is another of my Mom’s excellent recipes. It’s the most delicious marinade for pork tenderloin that I’ve encountered yet. Usually, we make it in the oven, but since it’s Memorial Day weekend, the start of grilling season, I decided to dust off the old Weber and ask my husband to play Grillmaster.

What you’ll need, for two tenderloins:

5 cloves of garlic, minced or squeezed through a press
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground ginger
3 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp honey
1 tsp five-spice*
*Note: I had a hard time finding this, until I realized it’s often labeled as “Chinese Five-Spice Powder” and housed in the grocery store’s alphabetized spice section accordingly.First, have fun peeling the silver skin off the tenderloins. I’d offer you a how-to video, but I’m not that talented, and I don’t think I have the look the Food Network folks are looking for. Lucky for us, the internet already contains pretty much everything imaginable, and this nice lady will show you how to trim a tenderloin.

Grind garlic, spices, and salt together. I use the back of a spoon to mash the stuff together. Mix your remaining ingredients in a big bowl, then rub the salt and spices into the meat. Massage those tenderloins like they’ve been working in the yard all day and you’re working the knots out for them before they shower, and settle them into the honey and soy sauce bath –  they should be sitting in liquid, but they should not be covered by the liquid. Add more honey and soy sauce if you feel that they don’t have enough marinade to soak in. Cover tightly and refrigerate several hours, or overnight if you can manage it. It helps if you can flip the meat in the marinade a few times while it’s in the fridge, to make sure all parts get equal soaking.

To cook – fill the bottom of a pan with a half-inch of water, then place fillets on a rack over the water, to steam. Cook for 30 minutes at 350F, turning over once. Mom likes to use a broiler pan for this:
Since I don’t have one, I use a regular roasting pan with a rack, and it comes out great. This was the first time I tried grilling the meat, and I followed some instructions from a cooking site that said to use medium heat and cook it for 4 minutes per side, but treat it like it has four sides. So, turn it 90 degrees each time instead of a full flip. Grills and heat distribution will vary, as will the thickness of the tenderloins, so use a meat thermometer. When you see 140 or so, you can pull the meat off the grill and cover it in foil – it will keep cooking for a few minutes and reach the recommended 145.

Here’s the result:

Still a little pink in the middle, very tender, with a tasty grilled crust. I’m sorry the quality of my photos tends towards the painfully amateur… it’s a good thing I’m not a serious food blogger!
This makes a great dinner with rice and salad, but it also makes a tasty cold appetizer. Just slice it thinner than you would if it was for dinner, and serve it on its own or with crackers. It’s spiced garlic pork – I can’t imagine anyone waving a hand at it and saying “no thanks, I’ll stick with the carrots and ranch dip”.

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