Creating delicious dishes like my Korean Pork Barbecue isn't difficult, it's all about the ingredients. Don't spend all day in the kitchen, marinate the pork overnight and have dinner on your table in 30 minutes.
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One of the great joys in life is cooking for my friends. As a chef, there is no better feeling than seeing smiling faces around the table after dinner. And occasional OMG I’m stuffed with a loosening of the belt.
That’s when I feel the most successful. Not after winning an award or accolade, but after making someone happy with the food I’ve prepared. It’s a good life when you do what you love for a living.
As I said in the opening paragraph, sourcing ingredients is one of the differences between a home cook and a chef. It’s not rocket science, it’s just finding the right ingredients for the dish you’re making.
What ingredients do you need to make the marinade for the Korean pork?
One of the first things I learned as an apprentice was to gather my ingredients before I started cooking. In chef-speak, this is called the Mise en Place (everything in its place). It not only makes the process smoother and faster, but it also ensures you have everything you need to make the dish you’re preparing.
A few of the key ingredients you’ll need to make the marinade may be new to you. Your local grocer may surprise you and carry most of them. If not, there are Asian markets just about everywhere these days, and you will find everything you need there.
Are these new to you?
- Dark Soy Sauce (thicker and darker with a more full-bodied flavor)
- Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) (savory sweet and spicy chili paste)
- Mirin (subtly sweet, slightly tangy rice wine)
- Sesame Oil (oil derived from sesame seeds and a great flavor enhancer)
How do I marinate the Pork Tenderloin?
I love to marinate meats to give them extra flavor, and it’s really as simple as mixing the ingredients together and placing them in a zippered plastic bag with the protein and place it in the fridge.
I use gallon zippered bags and could easily fit two pork tenderloins inside the bag. You could cut the tenderloins in half, just be aware they will cook a little faster.
After everything is in the bag and it’s well sealed, move the marinade around a bit, working it into the meat.
How long should I marinate the pork?
Technically 35-45 minutes would be enough. But 4 – 8 hours well give you a more flavorful pork tenderloin.
*That doesn’t mean that marinating even longer is better. Over-marinating can cause meats to break down and become mushy.
How do I make Korean Pork Barbecue Sauce?
Let’s gather our ingredients for the Korean Barbecue Sauce. You’ll also notice that I have sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds for the garnish.
Making the barbecue sauce is fairly simple once you get all the ingredients together. The important step after bringing the sauce to a light boil is to let it simmer to cook and get the depth of flavor into the sauce. I would recommend no less than 30 minutes on low heat. If the sauce gets too thick, thin it out with water or orange juice.
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What Can you use instead of Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)?
- Sriracha Chili Sauce
- Thai Chili Paste
- Sambal Oelek
None of these substitutes will have the exact flavor but they will work well in the recipe
Does Karo® Syrup contain High Fructose Corn Syrup?
No, it does not.
High fructose corn syrup starts with regular corn syrup, which is modified by further processing and treated with enzymes to break it into two different forms of sweeteners, fructose and glucose.
In contrast, corn syrup is a sweetener derived from fresh corn picked and processed at its peak for flavor and sweetness. This is the ingredient in Karo® Syrups used for baking – Karo® Light, Karo® Dark and Karo® Lite (reduced-calorie). Karo® Syrup delivers a smooth texture with a balanced texture that really lets the true flavor of other ingredients shine. Karo® Syrup is a really versatile ingredient and can be used to help perfect savory sauces and glazes, or any sweet treat you’re dreaming up.
When your pork is done marinating and your Korean Barbecue sauce is ready, you can preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and get ready to have dinner on the table in 30 minutes.
Remove the tenderloins from the marinade and wipe them down with paper towels to remove excess marinade from the outside of the pork. It will look much darker from the marinade, giving the pork an almost smoked and dried look.
Next, liberally brush down the pork with the Korean barbecue sauce and place it into the preheated oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the pork from the oven, carefully turn it over and brush the other side with barbecue sauce. Return to oven for an additional 15 minutes.
I always use a meat thermometer to check the internal temp of the meats I cook. Years ago, it wasn’t safe to eat pork unless it has passed 165 degrees internally.
These days, pork is best served as you would beef, and 145 degrees is my preferred internal temp. This leaves the pork a little pink inside. My wife will not eat anything that isn’t well done, so as you can see by the thermometer the internal temp is 167 degrees.
The pork will still be tender and delicious, but if you don’t mind medium-rare to medium-well, cook your pork to an internal temp of 145-150 degrees.
Then it’s just a matter of plating up your pork, adding some sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds as a garnish, and serving it with your favorite side dishes.
Can you use this marinade and barbecue sauce on other meats?
Yes, you can! This recipe will work well with Chicken, Beef or Lamb.
If you love a good pork recipe make sure to check out these recipes.
Korean Pork Barbecue
- 1/4 cup Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
- 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 pounds pork tenderloins (2 tenderloins)
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp ginger finely chopped
- 1 tsp garlic finely chopped
- 1 tbsp onion finely chopped
- 1/2 cup light Karo® Syrup *add 2 tbsp more for a sweeter sauce
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) *add 1 tbsp more for a spicer sauce
- 1/2 tsp sea salt *or to taste
- 2 tsp sesame seeds toasted
- 1 bunch scallions sliced - green part only
- Trim pork tenderloin, removing the silver skin from the pork and any unwanted fat.
- Mix marinade ingredients in a bowl.
- Place pork tenderloins to a large zippered plastic bag, then pour in the marinade. Seal the bag well and refrigerate for 4 hours. (one hour is the minimum and 12 hours the maximum)
Korean Barbecue Sauce
- In a saucepan over medium heat add sesame oil, onions, garlic and ginger. Allow the aromatics to saute for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the remainder of the ingredients, stirring well. Bring sauce to a light boil for 2-3 minutes then reduce heat to low. Allow the sauce to simmer for 20-30 minutes. *If the barbecue sauce is too thick add a little water to thin it to the right consistency.*This is your opportunity to reseason the sauce as needed. If you want it spicier add more Korean red pepper paste. If you'd like the sauce a little sweeter add more Karo® Syrup.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- Remove pork tenderloins from the marinade and pat down the tenderloins with paper towels to remove any excess marinade from the outside of the pork.
- Place pork tenderloins on roasting pan.
- Brush tenderloins liberally with BBQ sauce and place into the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
- Heat saute pan until fairly hot. Remove from heat and add sesame seeds. Seeds will begin to toast and pop. Keep the seeds moving to keep them from burning. When seeds look toasted, remove from pan onto a plate or bowl until needed.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Turn over the tenderloins and brush the pork with barbecue sauce.
- Return the pan to the oven for another 15 minutes.
- Remove the pork from the oven. Brush with additional barbecue sauce and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
- Slice pork tenderloins about 1/4 inch thick or as desired
- Place the sliced pork tenderloins on a serving dish, trying to keep them lined up. Brush with additional sauce if needed.
- Sprinkle top of pork tenderloin with toasted sesame seeds and garnish with sliced scallions.
- Serve with your favorite sides and additional barbecue sauce.