Hoisin sauce is often called Chinese barbecue sauce and is traditionally used to glaze meats and used in Peking duck. This fragrant and pungent sauce is all-at-once salty, sweet and spicy and the perfect complement to grilled foods. Brushed all over a grilled, juicy pork tenderloin that’s first been rubbed with Chinese five-spice powder… well, let’s just say that it’s not for flavor wimps!
Hoisin is commonly made from fermented soy, garlic, vinegar, chilies, and some sort of sweetener. It has grown in such popularity that it is commonly available in the Asian section of most supermarkets. This combination of the pork rubbed with Chinese five-spice powder (star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, cloves, fennel seed, and cinnamon) is a heady experience indeed! If you cannot find either hoisin sauce or five-spice powder, you can always get it online at asianfoodgrocer.com.
Five-Spice Pork Tenderloin with Spicy Hoisin BBQ Sauce
For the rub:
1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 sea salt
1/2 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns, ground (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed and silver-skin removed
For the sauce:
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
2 to 3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon chile-garlic sauce*
1 tablespoon good quality soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1/2-inch fresh ginger, grated
1 red Fresno chile (often called red jalapeños), seeded and minced
Combine the rub ingredients in a bowl and rub/pat into meat until all is used. Cover and let rest on the counter if using in the next half hour or leave in the fridge until you’re ready. Like a good marinade, the longer it melds with the meat, the more flavorful it will become.
Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes; set aside.
Set your grill up for direct cooking over medium heat. Of course, always make sure your grates are cleaned and oiled before you start grilling. Cook meat for 18 to 22 minutes, turning ever 4 to 5 minutes. In the last few minutes, start brushing on the Hoisin BBQ Sauce. I brush it, close the lid for a minute, then turn and repeat several times. The sauce has a pretty high sugar content and will burn if you start this too early. Use your BULL Instant Read Flip Tip Digital Thermometer and pull the tenderloin off the grill when the temperature is between 145- and 155 degrees F. Then let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes to let those juices redistribute. With the carryover heat, your finished tenderloin should be 150- to 160 degrees F.**
Give the tenderloin another good brush of glaze and then slice thinly on the bias and serve with extra sauce. If desired, garnish with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.
* Chile-Garlic Sauce can usually be found in the Asian section of the supermarket or at asianfoodgrocer.com.
**Cook’s Note: Okay here’s the deal with cooked pork – it doesn’t have to be dried out and gray! A little pink (not bloody) is perfectly fine. Trichinosis was mostly bread out pigs in the last century and most harmful bacteria are killed at 145 degrees F. The USDA’s recommended temperature for cooked pork is 160 degrees F (based on killing trichinosis). This is teetering on the edge of dry and personally, I like my pork slightly pink, flavorful and juicy. I prefer pork served around 150- to 154 degrees F. and so I take it off the grill right at 145 degrees.