Linda Knutson of Bellingham, home chef, retired Ferndale city clerk and "longtime foodie," shares her recipe for Chinese-style BBQ pork tenderloin. She says this recipe brings back lots of happy childhood memories of family outings to some of Seattle's best neighborhood Asian restaurants. She wrote:
"Growing up in Seattle in the '60s and '70s, my family used to dine out at Chinese restaurants on a regular basis, usually once a month around payday. Our favorites were the Teapot Café on Capitol Hill, Wah Kue in Burien and Tai Tung in the International District. We always started our dinner with an appetizer platter of Chinese-style BBQ pork tenderloin, sliced thin and served with hot mustard, ketchup and toasted sesame seeds.
"My big sister, 8 years old and the family math wiz, would count the slices, divide by 5 (family members) and quickly announce how many slices we could each have. I, being the budding family cook at age 7, would say 'I'm gonna learn how to make this when I grow up!'
"Fast-forward several decades, and after a ton of recipe research, trial and error and I have finally mastered a recipe for a truly amazing Chinese BBQ pork tenderloin that rivals any created in any Asian restaurant. Anywhere. Really."
Linda says the recipe is easy; just use a little patience during the "resting" phase. "I can't stress enough how important the rest period is," she wrote. "Otherwise your beautiful tenderloins will be dry and disappointing. Trust me on this!"
Hoisin sauce (8.5-ounce jar)
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
One-half teaspoon Chinese five spice powder (optional)
1 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)
Two pork tenderloins (usually sold and packaged in pairs)
Combine all ingredients except the tenderloins in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Mix well and set aside.
Adding food coloring gives the tenderloins a rich, bright red mahogany color but will not affect the taste and is optional.
Remove the tenderloins from the package and carefully cut away and discard any excess fat and/or silver skin. Place the tenderloins in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Carefully pour the marinade mixture over the tenderloins. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible, and place on a plate and refrigerate for a minimum of three hours, or overnight (preferred, if possible). Give the tenderloins a gentle massage once or twice during this time.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees, if using convection oven).
Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and top with a fitted baking rack.
Using tongs, remove the tenderloins from the marinade and place them on the baking rack. Reserve the marinade for basting.
Bake on your oven's upper rack for 25 minutes, then spoon on reserved marinade, generously coating the tenderloins. Bake an additional 20 minutes. Finally, set the oven to broil for 5 to 6 minutes until the meat begins to slightly char and sizzle, but not burn/flame. (Total cooking time should be 45-50 minutes.)
Remove from oven and let rest for a minimum of 30 minutes, but one hour is preferred.
To serve, place the meat on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to thinly slice the tenderloins against the grain, on the bias. Arrange the slices fanned out on a serving plate, and serve with hot Chinese mustard, ketchup and toasted sesame seeds for dipping. The meat will be moist and tender and the crusty edges will be sweet, sticky, tangy and delicious.
As an appetizer, serves 25. As a main dish, serves 8-10.
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