Grilled Pork Kebabs with Hoisin and Five-Spice

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Pork tenderloin is popular because it’s lean and reasonably priced, but it lacks flavor and tends to be dry. Grilling increases flavor but only on the meat’s exterior. By cutting the tenderloin into 1-inch cubes for kebabs, it creates more surface area for flavorful char. Salt the chunks briefly to help the pork retain moisture. If your pork is enhanced (injected with a salt solution), do not salt it in step 1.

Toss the pork pieces in a flavorful, low-moisture glaze (which contains added cornstarch to help it cling) and thread them onto skewers. You will need four to five 12-inch metal skewers. A mid-cooking application of glaze adds extra zing, and the brief time on the grill minimizes moisture loss. In the end, the kebabs were done perfectly and so tender that we could cut them with the edge of our fork!

Our tenderloins weighed in at closer to two, as opposed to the 1 1/2 pounds called for so we doubled the glaze to make sure we had enough. Plus given the size of the pork chunks, I think Russ had a bit of an issue calculating a 1″ cube because they measured closer to 2″ each! To accompany the entree, we stir-fried some asparagus and shiitake mushrooms in a wok on the grill’s side burner while the pork rested under a tinfoil tent. (Recipe posted in another blog.) Both meat and veggies cooked within minutes, perfect for when you are squeezed for time.

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Plated meal of pork kebabs and asparagus and shiitake mushroom stir-fry.


  • 2 (12-ounce) pork tenderloins, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons five-spice powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

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Pork cubes seasoned with salt for twenty minutes.

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Hoisin sauce mixture added to salted meat chunks.

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Gas grilling the kebabs.


  1. Toss pork and salt together in large bowl and let sit for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk five-spice powder, garlic powder, and cornstarch together in bowl. Add hoisin to five-spice mixture and stir to combine. Set aside 1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin mixture.
  2. Add remaining hoisin mixture to pork and toss to coat. Thread pork onto four or five 12-inch metal skewers, leaving 1/4 inch between pieces. Spray both sides of meat generously with oil spray.
  3. A. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
  4. B. FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s).
  5. Clean and oil cooking grate. Place skewers on hotter side of grill and grill until well charred, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip skewers, brush with reserved hoisin mixture, and continue to grill until second side is well charred and meat registers 140 degrees, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer to serving platter, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with scallions and serve.

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