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Effortless Grilled Pork Kebabs With Hoisin and Five-Spice

The most time-consuming part of this simple dish is just threading the pork onto the skewers — and that takes hardly any time at all.

When you’re married to a man whose nickname is Meat Boy, and a “Meat Illustrated: A Foolproof Guide to Understanding and Cooking with Cuts of All Kinds” cookbook lands on your porch, you know you’ll have to practically pry it out of his hands to ever get a look at it, yourself.

Such was the case when a review copy of that meat-centric tome (Cook’s Illustrated) by America’s Test Kitchen arrived.

With more than 350 recipes for beef, pork, lamb, and veal, it’s a true meat lover’s manual. It includes illustrations showing where each cut is found on a particular animal. It also will teach you how to make meat juicier through pre-salting or brining; what kind of fat to trim off and how much; and how to cure your own bacon.

The recipes make use of a range of cooking techniques and run the gamut from “Sous Vide Pepper-Crusted Beef Roast” and “Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder with Peach Sauce” to “Slow-Cooker Sweet-and-Sour Barbecue Spareribs” and “Egyptian Eggah with Ground Beef and Spinach.”

You can’t go wrong with “Grilled Pork Kebabs with Hoisin and Five-Spice” that’s easy and quick enough to make on a busy weeknight.

Mix together five-spice, garlic powder, a pinch of cornstarch and a little hoisin sauce that will be both marinade and finishing glaze. Toss small chunks of pork tenderloin that have been pre-salted for 20 minutes with most of the sauce. That little bit of cornstarch will help the sauce cling to the meat. Thread the pork on skewers, and grill, brushing them half way through cooking with a little of the five-spice-hoisin mixture you held back.

Pork tenderloin can be dry, but because you pre-salt these and cook them so fast, they end up wonderfully juicy and tender.

That’s it. After less than 10 minutes on the grill, dinner is served — tender cubes of pork laced with smokiness and the distinctive sweet warmth of cinnamon, clove, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns. Serve with steamed rice and some stir-fried veggies.

It’s a recipe that definitely got Meat Boy’s seal of approval.

I served the kebabs over a bed of stir-fried cabbage with spring garlic, spring onions, sweet soy sauce, and a knob of butter.

Grilled Pork Kebabs with Hoisin and Five-Spice

(Serves 4)

2 (12-ounce) pork tenderloins, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

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, sliced thin

Toss pork and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside 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. Measure out 1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin mixture and set aside.

Add remaining hoisin mixture to pork and toss to coat. Thread pork onto four 12-inch metal skewers, leaving 1/4 inch between pieces. Spray both sides of meat generously with oil spray.

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.

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).

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 145 degrees, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer to serving platter, tent with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with scallions and serve.

From “Meat Illustrated” by America’s Test Kitchen

More Delicious Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen Recipes to Try: Really Good Pumpkin Bread

And: Modern Cauliflower Gratin

And: Broiled Broccoli Rabe

And: Sugar Snap Peas with Pine Nuts, Fennel, and Lemon Zest