Korean Pork Tenderloin and Wonton “Lettuce” Cups

I’ve cooked pork tenderloin in several ways before this and, although they were delicious, I wanted to try something different. So, I went in a Korean direction and marinated a couple of butterflied tenderloin in a mixture containing the spicy chili pepper paste, “gochujang”. Since it’s such a lean piece of meat, overcooking has to be avoided carefully or the result will be dry.

I was going to make lettuce wraps with the sliced meat but I forgot to buy the lettuce, so I used some leftover wonton ‘cups’ from my freezer. The result would make a lovely appetizer.

Korean (Gochujang) Pork Tenderloin – serves 3-4

1/2 cup gochujang
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey** or brown sugar
1**-6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
1 large piece of pork tenderloin (1 1/4 – 1 1/2 lbs)
pinch of salt

** What I used

Garnish – bunch of cilantro
extra gochujang

In a large bowl, whisk together the gochujang, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, garlic, and fish sauce until it is totally combined.

Butterfly your pork tenderloin so that it can open like a book, and is about 1 1/2 inches thick.

Season the pork with a good pinch of salt. Place the marinade in a large Ziplock bag, and place the pork into the bag. A large bowl with a lid is another option. Marinate the pork for 12-48 hours.

When your pork has marinated, prepare a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. (You can broil the tenderloin in the oven if it’s too cold to grill outside or you don’t have a grill pan.) Pull the pork from the marinade, and reserve the marinade to the side.

NOTE: If you want to use the marinade as a sauce, place it in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook for several minutes. Pour some into a separate bowl so you can use some of this to baste the tenderloin while it’s grilling and not contaminate your sauce with any raw meat juices.

Grill the pork tenderloin, flipping it occasionally and basting with the reserved boiled marinade, until the pork is just cooked through and is no longer translucent at all in the center. Remember, your pork will keep cooking when removed from the grill.

Let the pork rest for 5-8 minutes, and then thinly slice across the grain and on the diagonal using a sharp knife.

Serve the slices fanned out on a platter atop the cilantro leaves and stems, and pass extra gochujang for dipping on the side. You may also serve the pork over plain cooked rice, dressing the meat with some of the cooked marinade.

For the ‘lettuce’ cups, make this quick and tasty pickled coleslaw. The pork tenderloin is also good in tortilla wraps or on buns.

Quick Pickled Coleslaw

2 cups coleslaw vegetable mix
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Coleslaw dressing

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp wasabi paste
a pinch of black pepper

Whisk together the dressing ingredients and spoon over the coleslaw and cilantro leaves. Let sit for at least half an hour. For filling the cups, tilt the bowl so that the extra dressing drains off.

Assembling the wonton cups

Spoon one or two tablespoons of the pickled coleslaw into each wonton cup. Add sliced pork tenderloin and drizzle some spicy mayo over the top.


14 thoughts on “Korean Pork Tenderloin and Wonton “Lettuce” Cups

    1. For some people finding the chilli paste is an issue but you may not have that problem. I DO have to warn you that the chilli pepper paste IS hot. Hopefully it’s not too hot for the little ones. You can reduce the amount to 1/3 of a cup instead of 1/2 half cup. 🙂

      I found that by slicing the pork tenderloin thinly and combining it with the coleslaw, which had a bit of sweetness and tang to it, it toned down the heat. I also added slices of the pork to miso soup. I also think it t would be great in a fried rice recipe with lots of veggies.

      I’ve got a couple of other Korean recipes with gochujang … one for bbq’d chicken drumsticks and another for baked beans using the leftover cooked marinade from the previous post. (I’m economical that way) that you might like to see. Just scroll down till you get to the recipes.


      1. I’d probably put one tbsp of the gochujang in a 1/2 cup measuring cup and top off with hoisin in that case. See how they like it. You can always increase the gochujang one tbsp at a time until you hit their limit. 🙂

      2. Josh and I love spicy food but our kids don’t handle it so well. We will try this for us first before we try it on the kids 🙂 I think I might have spicy chili paste either in the fridge or the pantry. I really liked the idea of coleslaw with the pork. Maybe we’ll try it as a taco! Yum!

      3. I felt I need to comment on the heat but people’s definition/sensitivity to heat varies.

        And as I said previously, the combination of that sweet/sour pickled coleslaw toned down the spice. If you filled lettuce wraps with the pork and coleslaw, you might not even notice any heat as there’s a sweet backnote to the pork as well.

  1. This looks very tasty. The cooked pork looks fabulous. You have so many flavours in this dish. I think I would love this served in the lettuce cups however, as a party appetiser, the wonton cups work really well xx

    1. Thank you. The marinated, grilled tenderloin has many uses including sliced over rice or couscous. The cups were a quick use when the vegetable cupboard was bare otherwise.

  2. What a fantastic idea to use gochujang! (Moreover, I loooove pork). I love it for its versatility. Your tenderloin cups look really great.

    1. Thank you. It was surprisingly tasty. I wish I had had a fattier cut of pork … like you’d use for a Chinese char siu (bbq’d pork). Next time. 🙂

    1. It was amazingly tasty. I just wish I had had pork butt or shoulder … something with a little more fat in it. A fattier cut would be great for char siu bao (chinese bbq’d pork) too.

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