Put a Little Spice in Your Life

Reality Check: It’s still grilling weather and you’re still short on time when it comes to making weeknight dinner—or frankly my dear Watson, you just don’t feel like expending the energy. So try this Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Spicy Pepper Relish recipe, it fills the bill in a very tasty, and healthy way!

Joining us for supper was daughter Julia who was in town for a few days while she finalized her belongings in the Philadelphia area. We had a lot of catching up to do since we last saw her during the surprise visit at Christmas.

We all agreed, the spice on the tenderloin was amazing, and the pepper relish was the star of the show. It’s easiest to buy the five-spice powder already made, but if you’re so inclined, I listed the ingredients below, which will be stronger than the store bought, so use caution when measuring.

One switcharoo that I made was incorporating Chili Bean Sauce ❤ instead of Chile Garlic Sauce, which has a more sour taste. I swore we had an open jar lurking in the frig somewhere, but for the life of me couldn’t find it. Noting we only needed one teaspoon, and that the condiments are similar, it wasn’t going to be a noticeable difference.

You can round out this quick sweet-and-spicy pork dinner with white rice. Even easier, I had some of that tasty Couscous with Cilantro, Corn and Melted Scallions leftover from the seared tuna meal, which Julia and I split; while Russ finished the curried rice leftovers. Paired with a simple salad, dinner was a breeze, and a mighty delicious one at that!

If you’re so inclined: Full bodied Zinfandel red wines are bold and fruity, allowing them to work well with this recipe.

All of the ingredients are measured, prepped and ready to go.

I find it’s easiest to mash garlic to a paste with some kosher salt and a mortar and pestle.

After oiling with EVOO, sprinkle the five-spice powder mix evenly all over the tenderloins.

Quarter a couple of sweet bell peppers, brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.


  • 1 Tbs. five-spice powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • 2 12- to 16-oz. pork tenderloins
  • 2 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers (or a mix), quartered lengthwise, stemmed, and seeded
  • 2 Tbs. plain rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 small clove garlic, mashed to a paste (not minced)
  • 2 medium scallions, thinly sliced

The grilled peppers are cooling slightly before being sliced for the relish.

Once combined, the pepper relish was so good, I could eat it by itself!

After the tenderloins rest for 5 minutes, slice them down at a diagonal—and save those succulent juices to pour on the meat.



  1. Prepare a medium-high (425°F to 450°F) gas or charcoal grill fire.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the five-spice powder, 2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper. Lightly brush the tenderloins with oil, then sprinkle with the spice mixture. Brush the pepper quarters with oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill the tenderloins, turning a quarter turn every 3 to 4 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 140°F to 145°F, 15 to 18 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, grill the peppers skin-side down until grill marks form on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip the peppers and continue to grill until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes more.
  5. Let the tenderloins rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the pepper quarters.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine the rice vinegar, chili garlic sauce, brown sugar, and garlic. Stir in the peppers and scallions.
  7. Cut the pork crosswise on a diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve with the relish.

Adapted from Judith Fertig of Fine Cooking

Five-Spice Powder Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 6 star anise
  • 1 ½ teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds

Put all ingredients in a spice or coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder. Store in a tightly covered opaque container for up to several months.

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