5 Ingredients or Fewer

Pork Tenderloin With Kimchi & Apples

December  9, 2019
5 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 22 minutes
  • Serves 3 to 4
Author Notes

Tenderloin is the most-searched for pork cut, probably because it’s the leanest pork cut. But this also means it’s difficult to cook. While pork shoulder can stay in the oven for an hour longer than intended and still be delicious (honestly, maybe even better), pork tenderloin goes from just-right to chalky-dry in a matter of minutes. A wet brine is an easy way to avoid this. While salt plus water is classic, there’s nothing stopping you from swapping in feta liquid or pickle juice or, in this case, kimchi brine. This bonus ingredient is as bright in color as it is in flavor—equal parts spicy, salty, and funky. Diluting it with a bit of saltwater turns it into a workhorse brine for pork tenderloin. And since we’re already using the kimchi brine, we might as well use the kimchi, too. This gets sautéed then roasted alongside the pork—with chopped apples for some very welcome sweetness. Adding more kimchi brine to the skillet (with some butter for richness and gloss) yields a fuss-free sauce. This is perfect for bread-dunking, or polenta, or rice. It’s also additional insurance in case you do happen to leave the tenderloin in the oven too long. A quick note about the apples: Just about any variety works here. Your best bet is something on the sweeter side (since the rest of the dish is so savory), that holds up well when cooked. Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and Jonagold are all great options. —Emma Laperruque

What You'll Need
  • Pork tenderloin and brine
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup kimchi brine
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
  • Kimchi and apples
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/3 cups roughly chopped kimchi (if your kimchi starts out in big pieces—get it closer to 1-inch chunks)
  • 2 medium apples (about 12 ounces total), cored and cut into ¾-inch chunks
  • 1/3 cup kimchi brine
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  1. Brine the pork tenderloin: Add the water, kimchi brine, and salt to a bowl or plastic bag, and stir. Add the pork tenderloin, making sure it’s fully submerged. Cover or close up. Brine in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 12.
  2. When the pork is done brining, remove it from the liquid and dry it off. Heat the oven to 400°F.
  3. Set a large cast-iron skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the canola oil and swirl around until shiny. Carefully add the pork tenderloin—it will spatter a bit; if you have to curve the tenderloin to fit in the pan, that’s a-okay. Brown it on all sides, about 6 minutes total, turning as needed. Now add the kimchi and apples, evenly distributing on either side of the tenderloin. Pour the kimchi brine on top of the kimchi and apples, then sprinkle with butter pieces. Get the skillet in the hot oven.
  4. Roast the pork tenderloin and fixings for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the middle of the pork registers 140° to 145° (a little pink in the center is good—that means it’s not dried out). Flip the meat halfway through and give the kimchi and apples a quick stir, so everyone cooks evenly.
  5. When the meat is done, let it rest in the hot skillet for a few minutes, then transfer to a carving board and slice. Nestle the slices on top of the kimchi and apples and serve hot.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
  • Lori lauman
    Lori lauman
  • Arianne
  • jgagen1
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

7 Reviews

Lori L. June 18, 2023
The was so good! Loved the flavors and the brining made it so moist and juicy. It had to cook double the time recommended to get to the internal temp so was a bit concerned it was going to be dry but it was fab. Served with polenta arugula salad and a Rioja 😋
Arianne November 29, 2020
I cannot eat pork! Would chicken be a reasonable sub or is this just one of those things that a person leaves alone in its perfection?
jgagen1 June 29, 2020
Excellent! So easy to make with pretty complex flavors! Definitely great with polenta. Next time I make this, I'll probably add JUST a bit of sugar to the apples & kimchi to sweeten up the sauce a bit more.
jgagen1 June 29, 2020
Excellent! So easy to make which pretty complex flavors! Definitely great with polenta. Next time I make this, I'll probably add JUST a bit of sugar to the apples & kimchi to sweeten up the sauce a bit more.
Terri February 14, 2020
WOW!! I made this exactly as written. I served it over polenta. My jar of kimchee didn't have much brine, but I carried on anyway. Still amazing, everyone LOVED it!
Emma L. February 14, 2020
Yay, so glad you enjoyed the recipe!
Jennifer G. January 22, 2022
Hi Emma, cooking this tonight. I have a pint of kimchi but was only able to squeeze out a quarter cup of brine for the tenderloin- leaving me none left for sauce. The only solution I can think of it to make my own kimchi and save the excess brine. Where do you get your brine?