Pork Satays and Vinegared Rice

If you’re stuffed to the gills with roast turkey, turkey sandwiches, turkey hash, and turkey surprise, a completely different flavor might perk up your faltering holiday appetite. These skewered, grilled satays are marinated in Asian barbeque sauce, chili garlic paste and vinegar among other spices and provide the perfect gustatory relief from roasted poultry and baked vegetables. They also make the perfect appetizers or finger-food for your holiday festivities. If you’re looking to turn these meat strips into a meal, a side of vinegared rice is the way to go. The light acidity and the satisfying starchiness perfectly compliments the pork. Add a few sweet potato medallions to round out the meal.

Pork tenderloin is the meat we’ll be using for these satays. It’s very lean, very tender, and very easy to prepare. The shape of the tenderloin even lends itself perfectly to satays. But we do need to clean it up just a bit before cutting it into strips. The silverskin must be removed. That bit of flat tendon cooks into a rubber, inedible sheet if left on the pork, and we’re going to be cooking these for a very short amount of time. And there is a long ropey tendon at the butt end that needs to be removed. But once those two problem tendons are gone, the rest is smooth sailing. Simply cut the tenderloin in half, and then cut each of the halves into 6-inch strips of meat. We’ll be threading each strip onto a skewer, so make sure the meat is thick enough to thread. Each tenderlois should yield somewhere between 12 and 16 satays. The butt end is more difficult to cut into even strips.

The flavor of these skewers is best achieved on a grill, but late fall, early winter weather may not be very cooperative. If you can grill them, they should be grilled over a hot grill for about 4-5 minutes; no need to turn them. The thin strips lend themselves to just such a cooking method. Over cooking these satays will result in tough unpalatable skewers. If snow or sleet is blanketing your grill, you can roast these indoors. The oven should be set to 425°F, with a roast time of about 13 minutes. Again, don’t overcook the tenderloin. You can skip the skewers if you’re roasting them indoors, but they need to be off the cooking surface. You can set a metal cooling rack on a large baking sheet and then lay the satays on the rack to evenly roast.

These satays are nicely spicy. If you would rather cut back on the spiciness, you can replace some or all of the chili garlic paste with a mild pepper relish or peperonata. As for other tricks or tips, in order to get all the hoisin sauce out of the jar, scoop out as much as possible, and then pour the vinegar in the bottle, recap, and shake it vigorously. No waste.

If you need a break from traditional holiday feastery, these pork tenderloin satays might be just what you crave.

Asian Pork Satays and Vinegared Rice

  • 1 vacuum packed pork tenderloin, two muscles, cleaned

Pork Marinade

  • 8 ounces hoisin sauce
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • ½ cup chili garlic paste
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 T. sesame oil
  • ¼ t. kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper

Vinegared Rice

  • 3 cups water
  • 1½ cups rice
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 T. sesame oil
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1½ cups frozen petite peas, thawed 

For the marinade: combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Reserve half the marinade to ladle over the skewers after they have cooked. Clean the pork tenderloin removing all the silverskin and tendons from the meat. Cut each tenderloin in half to create two shorter pieces of meat. Cut each half into strips about a half-inch thick. You should get about 6 strips for each half. Pour the marinade over the meat strips and toss to coat. Set aside while you prepare the rice. If you are grilling the satays, soak the skewers in water for 15 minutes before threading on the pork.

For the rice, combine all the ingredients except the peas in a 3 quart saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Turn the rice to low, cover it, and cook on low for 16 minutes. While the rice is cooking, thread the skewers or place the satays on a rack on top of a baking sheet if you are roasting these indoors. Roast the satays while the rice cooks for its 16 minutes or wait until the rice is cooked to grill them. Once the rice is done, toss the rice to separate, then stir in the peas to combine.

Serve hot.