Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Sweet and Tangy Watermelon Salad

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The bright fresh taste of a watermelon and cucumber salad makes a sensational counterpoint to the fiery spice crust on this succulent pork tenderloin. It’s important to brown the meat before roasting, since this cut cooks too quickly for the surface to brown and caramelize in the oven. Grill enthusiasts may omit the stovetop browning (Step 3) and grill the tenderloins over medium heat, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes.

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Sweet and Tangy Watermelon Salad
photographer: Ken Burris
Nutritionist Tested & Approved

Time: 45 minutes (35 minutes prep)

  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons chile-garlic sauce (see Tips)

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil , divided

  • 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin , trimmed

  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar

  • 2 cups diced seeded watermelon

  • 2 cups diced cucumber

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts , toasted (see Tips) and coarsely chopped

  1. To prepare pork: Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

  2. Mix sugar, coriander, cumin, salt, chile-garlic sauce and 1 teaspoon oil in a small bowl to form a smooth paste. Rub the paste over the pork.

  3. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork; cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the baking sheet.

  4. Roast the pork until just cooked through (an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center should register 145°F), 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand, loosely covered with foil, for 5 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, prepare salad: Stir vinegar and sugar in a medium bowl until the sugar almost dissolves. Add watermelon, cucumber and cilantro; toss gently to combine. Just before serving, sprinkle with peanuts.

  6. Carve the pork into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve with the watermelon salad.

Chile-garlic sauce, a blend of ground chiles, garlic and vinegar, is commonly used to add heat and flavor to Asian dishes. It can be found in the Asian section of large markets (sometimes labeled as chili-garlic sauce or paste) and keeps up to 1 year in the refrigerator.

To toast whole nuts, spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F, stirring once, until fragrant, 7 to 9 minutes.

Nutritional Facts

4 g
5 g
Saturated Fat
1 g
24 g
74 mg
Dietary Fiber
1 g
482 mg
179 mg
6 servings
3 lean meat
1/2 fat

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