I am a huge fan of dinners that I can make one night and turn into something completely different another night. And living in North Carolina, it is only natural that some of our favorite “transition dinners” come from pork! One of my all-time favorite leftover transitions is roasted pork tenderloin turned into pork lo mein. The trick to this recipe is that by roasting both tenderloins the first night, I can save valuable time needed to cut all of the vegetables for the lo mein on the second night. An added benefit is that both recipes have completely different flavor profiles, which is wonderful because not only do we get variety in our weekday menu, but I can also rest assured that my family will remain clueless about eating leftovers!
HOW TO ROAST THE TENDERLOINS
The trick to a perfectly roasted pork tenderloin is a simple process and very easy to accomplish. First, generously season the tenderloins with kosher salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat for a couple minutes and then drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over the pan, or enough to lightly coat the bottom. Add the tenderloins and leave them until you are ready to turn them, which is about 3-4 minutes or until they have a nice golden crust. When all sides are browned, transfer the tenderloins to a foil-lined sheet pan and put them in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 145 degrees. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before cutting into medallions. The pork will be slightly pink at this temperature, so if you do not like it cooked to medium, then you can increase the temperature to 160 for a well-done loin. If you do this, however, remove the 1 loin you are using later for lo mein when it reaches 145 degrees (you will be reheating the pork in the lo mein recipe and it will be too dry if you let it reach well-done the first time you cook it).
If you would like to add some additional flavors to the pork (I have tried these and they do not interfere with the flavor of the lo mein), you can try the following ideas:
- Use sliced yellow onions (about 2 large), diced dried apricots (1/2 cup), and diced bacon (about 6 slices) as a bed for the tenderloins and drizzle them with barbeque sauce before cooking.
- Place the tenderloins in a shallow baking dish with sliced carrots and red potatoes, a couple cloves of crushed garlic, and fresh thyme and drizzle vegetables with olive oil and kosher salt
- Use sliced yellow onions, sliced carrots, and shredded green cabbage as a bed for tenderloins and drizzle vegetables with kosher salt and olive oil and the pork with a hoisin barbeque sauce
PORK LO MEIN
- 1 pork tenderloin, cut into 1/4″ medallions and then 1″ strips
- 1 head of Napa cabbage, sliced into 1/2′ strips
- 4 large carrots, sliced into 1/4′ disks
- 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced (if you do not have shiitake mushrooms you can substitute crimini or white mushrooms, making sure to slice them thinly and increase the cooking time a bit)
- 2 bunches of green onions. Thinly slice the white parts and cut the green stems into 1″ slices
- 1 pound of spaghetti, or other long noodle
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice powder
- Dry sherry
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, grated
- 1 teaspoons corn starch
- 1/3 cup chicken stock or broth
- Canola oil
- Chili garlic sauce or Sriracha sauce
***Note: This recipe has many ingredients and steps so it may seem overwhelming at first but the result is way worth your time and the leftover lo mein heats well and is as delicious as the day you made it. The more you use this recipe, the easier it gets, so stick with it!
Make the marinade: Combine the soy sauce, hoisen, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and 5 Spice powder in a bowl and whisk until combined. Take out 3 tablespoons of the marinade and toss with the sliced pork tenderloin. Set this aside to marinate for about an hour. In the meantime, mix the cornstarch and chicken stock together until dissolved and then add to the remaining marinade, whisking until combined. Set aside. Cut all of the vegetables and put them in separate bowls. Mix the garlic and ginger with about 1 teaspoon of the canola oil until it looks like a paste. Set this aside. Get a large bowl and lid ready- you will be cooking the pork and each vegetable separately and then combining everything at the end so you need a place to keep everything warm until ready to combine.
At this time, I usually boil the water for the pasta and then turn it on low until I am ready to cook the noodles. ( I use spaghetti and usually drop the pasta in the water after I cook the pork. If the noodles are done before the vegetables, just drain and set aside until ready to toss together). Make sure you are using a large stockpot for the noodles because you will be adding all of the vegetables to this pot at the end and you will need plenty of space to mix everything together.
When the pork has had plenty of time to marinate, heat a wok or non-stick skillet on high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Add the pork and cook until you see a browned crust, about 2-3 minutes. Deglaze with 2 tablespoons of sherry and then put in the large bowl and cover with the lid. In the same pan, add another tablespoon of canola oil and add the carrots and cook over high heat for a few minutes. Add about 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the pan and cover with a lid- steam the carrots for about 2 minutes, or until tender. Add the green onion to the carrots and stir for a minute. Add the carrots and onions to the bowl with the pork and cover. Let the pan heat up again and add another tablespoon of oil. Cook the mushrooms until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add them to the bowl. Heat another tablespoon of oil in the pan and add the cabbage after the pan reaches high heat. Let it sit for a minute and then stir until all pieces are cooked through-this will seem like a lot of cabbage at first, but once it gets hot it will wilt and cook down quickly. At this time, your noodles should be done cooking so drain them and place them back into the large pot.
Make a little open space in the middle of the pan where the cabbage is cooking and add the ginger and garlic paste. Cook for about a minute, until you can smell the garlic. Toss the cabbage with the paste and then pour the remaining marinade over the mixture. Cook for another minute, then pour onto the noodles along with the other ingredients in the bowl you had set aside. Mix until everything is combined and serve with a bit of chili garlic sauce or Sriracha sauce to add slight heat.