I just have to get outside and grill this evening – blue skies, the sun setting behind the trees, and the crisp smell of fall in the air. My oldest son is on a teriyaki kick – whenever I grill something, he asks if he can put teriyaki sauce on it. So, what’s for dinner tonight? Teriyaki pork tenderloin on the grill.
Pork tenderloin is a little trickier to grill than, say, a pork chop. The thick tenderloin needs to be seared, then moved to indirect heat to cook through without burning. For the searing step, I treat the tenderloin like it has four “sides”. I grill it over direct heat until it is browned on the bottom. Then, instead of flipping the tenderloin, I give it a quarter turn – rolling it 90 degrees, onto its side. I repeat this three more times, until the outside of the tenderloin is covered in grill marks.
Tenderloin is done – time to move off of the grill
Now, the tenderloin looks great – nice and seared on the outside – but it’s not done cooking on the inside. To finish, I move the tenderloin away from the heat, to an indirect zone on my grill, and close the lid. This lets me grill-roast with indirect heat until the tenderloin is cooked through. My probe thermometer makes this easy – I stick the probe into the deepest part of the tenderloin, close the lid on the wire, and set the temperature to 145°F. When the thermometer beeps, the pork is ready. Don’t overcook pork tenderloin – it is a very lean meat, and dries out if it goes much beyond Medium doneness on the grill. If you don’t have a probe thermometer, use a regular thermometer to check the pork’s temperature every five minutes.
Teriyaki sauce (or substitute 1 cup store-bought teriyaki sauce)
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons Mirin or seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 green onion, trimmed and minced fine
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
A handful of scallions, trimmed
Marinate the pork: Put the pork tenderloins in a gallon zip-top bag or a baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk the Teriyaki sauce ingredients - soy sauce, mirin, honey, garlic, ginger, and green onion - until smooth, and the honey dissolves. Pour the marinade over the pork tenderloins. (Squeeze the air out of the bag and zip closed if using). Marinate for at least least 1 hour, up to overnight, turning the pork occasionally to even out the marinade.
Set the grill for indirect medium heat: Set up the grill for indirect medium heat - half the grill for direct medium heat, half the grill with no heat. For my gas grill, I preheat with all burners on high for 10 minutes, then brush the grill grates clean with my grill brush. I turn half the burners down to medium, and turn off the other half of the burners.
Sear the pork over direct heat, finish over indirect heat: Remove the tenderloins from the marinade, let extra marinade drip off, and put the tenderloins on the grill over direct medium heat. I grill the round pork tenderloin as if it has four sides. I brown it on the bottom, about 2 minutes, then give the pork a quarter turn - rotating it 90 degrees. Then I repeat until it is grilled on all 4 sides - grill for about 2 minutes, turn, grill for another 2 minutes, turn, and a grill for 2 minutes on the last side. Move the pork to the indirect heat side of the grill, with no flames directly below it. (If you have a remote probe thermometer, now is the time to poke it deep into the thickest part of the tenderloin and set it for 145°F). Close the lid and cook until the pork reaches 145°F internal in its thickest part for medium, about 15 minutes. Remove the pork from the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes. While the pork is resting, put the scallions on the grill over direct medium heat and grill until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Remove from the grill and mince. Slice the tenderloin, sprinkle with the minced scallions, and serve.
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