Korean-Style Pork Tenderloin Stir-Fried with French Beans

koreanporktI have recently been lucky to stumble more and more often upon pork tenderloin from high quality farms. I cross my fingers this situation will never change because this is the only lean pork cut which doesn’t end up dried in stir-fries, my staple meals. This was my first Korean experiment with tenderloin and by far the best Korean pork dish I have ever had. The French beans are maybe not a very exotic touch, but they are in full season and paired perfectly with both the pork and my beloved typical hot and sweet seasoning.

Stir-frying is already one of the quickest cooking methods, but this one was particularly fuss-free: instead of adding ingredients, one by one, I have fried the pork with its marinade in one go. If you are used to cooking Korean from time to time, you will probably have all the necessary ingredients for this marinade and find this method as simple as I did. If you don’t cook Korean, gochujang is the first thing you should buy. This sweet and hot chilli paste is the crucial ingredient, the essence of what attracts me the most in Korean cuisine and, in my opinion, impossible to replace with anything else (sesame oil or rice wine can be borrowed from other Asian cuisines).

I have used here the grilled pork (Toejigogi kui) marinade from Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen by Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall. I have fried the pork instead of grilling it, but of course you can grill it if you prefer. I have hardly modified the original recipe, mainly adapting the ingredients to a dish  for one and skipping walnuts I didn’t have (I have learnt they are not used by majority of Korean cooks but I hope adding them soon to see how they change the flavours). For extra heat and flavour I have added one fresh medium hot Turkish chilli pepper, but it’s not obligatory.

TIPS: The pork should marinate for at least one hour, but it can be left overnight in the fridge. This will only improve it.

Whether you use a pan or a wok, some of the marinade will stick and leave a burnt layer which takes some time to be removed. If you use a traditional pan (cast iron or steel), add some water and boil it, scraping the bottom as it heats. If you have another pan, simply soak it for a long time to make the cleaning easier.

Preparation: 15 minutes + min. one hour for marinating

Ingredients (serves one): 

100 – 150 g pork tenderloin


1 tablespoon gochujang

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon Korean dried chilli powder 

1/5 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 – 1 teaspoon toasted white sesame seeds

1 tablespoon rice wine (I have used sake)

1 tablespoon agave syrup (or any other syrup you prefer or honey)

1 teaspoon grated ginger

1 big clove garlic, grated or crushed

a white and very light green part of one green onion, finely sliced

(1 medium hot chilli pepper, sliced)

a handful of French beans, ends and strings removed

Cut the tenderloin slightly diagonally into thick slices.

Combine with all the marinade ingredients and refrigerate, covered, for at least one hour. (This step can be made a day ahead).

Cut the French beans into bite-sized pieces (I have cut them in three pieces).

Blanch for 2 minutes in boiling water.

Plunge immediately in cold water or rinse under cold water.

Put aside.

Heat some oil in a pan or wok (or brush your grill with some oil).

Fry the pork pieces about 5 minutes, regularly stirring.

At the end add the blanched French beans and stir-fry everything until they are heated (about 30 seconds). You may add some water, as I did, if you want to create sticky sauce (the marinade will have dried and thickened by now).


43 Replies to “Korean-Style Pork Tenderloin Stir-Fried with French Beans”

    1. Thank you so much, Purabi. I had no idea you loved Korean food too! I will check your gochujang dish then!

  1. Sissi, your photos just get more beautiful! Look at this bowl of goodness filled with color and delight — I can taste the fiery deliciousness from here. I have become more and more familiar with Korean cuisine over the past couple years and boy, is it delicious – I mean, what’s not to love? Now my question is, can I order this for lunch? But I want this particular one — nothing else will do! (love the stunning color of the bowl and napkin set off against the browns and oranges of the food – wow!)

    1. Kelly, thank you for the compliments. You are so sweet… I think I can do much better with this cute turquoise bowl (a new one! bought on sales last week), but I’m really glad you like it. I’m making some kimchi now (has fermented for the last 48 hours and now is in the fridge) and I can tell you many people hate it 😉 Seriously I’m crazy for Korean cuisine too. You are always welcome for lunch or dinner or even breakfast (if I wake up late, I would be able to have it as a 10am breakfast without problems!).

  2. I love Korean dishes. I don’t think you could go wrong in using pork tenderloin as one of the best part of the oinkers and even it’s over fried, it’s still tender and not end up dried. I am drooling looking at the list of ingredients and spices you used – yummy! Thank you, Sissi and have a good weekend! 🙂

  3. I’m not usually a green bean fan but I had some at a Greek restaurant a couple of days ago and it seems my palate has become more accepting compared to my younger days when I would turn my nose up at them. So, this sounds like a dish I’d give a try with the gochujang paste.

    I’m curious about the Korean dry chilli powder however. Chili (written with one ‘l’) powder in western culture is the combination of cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and salt used to make the Texas-style meat and bean dish so whenever I see chilli (with two ‘l’s) in Indian or Asian dishes, I know it’s something else. Do you buy it pre-ground or do you grind your own? I’m curious what the chillis look like and if it’s a hot chilli or sweet.

    1. Thank you, A_Boleyn. Actually these are yellow French beans, not green. (I have no idea what the variety is called like). I actually prefer green ones! I like French beans as long as they are crunchy (just blanched) and not boiled to death until they are mushy and khaki coloured (the traditional Western way to prepare them…). I started to love them when I first blanched them in my own flat. It was like discovering a new vegetable.
      Actually I try to remember writing chilli with two “l” because it’s British spelling (I hope Charles will confirm), American being “chili” or “chile” in the South, where “chili” is the dish (at least this is what I understood at MJ’s blog). I learnt it only recently, so you will see both versions on my blog. I have learnt British English for many many years and try to stick at least to one spelling model (I already make so many other mistakes… a homogenous spelling is the least I can do!).
      Korean chilli, or chili if Canadian spelling= American, are for me rather flakes than powder… It’s medium hot to hot (it’s written at the package) and the colour is bright red. http://www.thekitchn.com/from-the-spice-cupboard-gochug-142194 Here the photo shows very well that this is something between flakes and powder.

      1. Thank you for the clarification. I see there are some seeds in the picture of the link you included. The chili flakes that I used to sprinkle on my pizza would probably work. And then I have smaller whole dried red chilis from India that I could crumble and grind coarsely.

        Chili, chile, chilli … so many spellings that I try to make sense of them in some fashion. Not necessarily an accurate one. 🙂

        1. You cannot imagine how many problems a non-native speaker has… Between the aubergine and eggplant etc… but spelling is the worst. As someone who learnt British English from the very beginning, I cannot make myself write “color” isntead of “colour” and then I discover I used to write non-British “chili” for so many years instead of “chilli”… It happens all the time. On the other hand, it’s fascinating.
          Yes, there are sometimes seeds, but I have just checked my gochojaru (the Korean chilli powder name, which is also sometimes written “kochujaru” to make things easier 😉 ) and there are no seeds in two different brands I have. I think you can use any good chilli you have! As I said, gochujang is the only obligatory Korean ingredient here (I hope Koreans will not hate me for saying this!). I sometimes use Japanese, sometimes Korean sesame oil, I use Japanese sake because it’s cheaper here too, etc.. but there is no substitution for the chilli paste I think.

          1. I know that there are individuals who are quite insistent that a particular ingredient is critical but, honestly, I can’t do that for a dish that I may only make once or twice at most. I’m going to be making mapo dofu as soon as I get some tofu in the house, and since I have sliced leeks and ground pork in my freezer so I’ll also be using the szechuan pepper. I will be adding the gochujang to it and maybe some stir fry.

            I’ll buy some fresh green beans and saute them very briefly as I think overcooking is why my mom’s beans (green, yellow … is that the same as wax beans I wonder) turned me off.

            1. I know that some people exaggerate… but gochujang is really crucial for Korean hot dishes (and I say this as someone who doesn’t have any Korean grocery shop here… I can buy it only in Japanese shops and not always). The good news is that in my opinion gochujang is very versatile. Do your remember my post with gochujang and sour cream sauce? I mix both and it creates a fantastic half European/half Asian sauce (great with Hungarian dishes and even with Indian!). I hope you will like crunchy beans. I will check wax beans.

                  1. There are much more extreme examples, Sissi. I certainly didn’t mean you. 🙂 I like that you do provide substitution ideas.

  4. Looks awesome, now I feel like eating meat. Did you garnish with chili? Double/triple chili pork stir fry?
    BTW the colors all match – bowl, chopstick and towel.
    There is a new variety of pork in Sweden called rapeseed pork. Rapeseed oil is added to the feed. As a result the meat has more unsaturated fats such as Omega 3 and less saturated fat. The meat is also juicier and tender. Thats what they claim, I haven’t tried it. Maybe your pork is rapeseed pork?

    1. Thanks a lot, Mr. Three-Cookies. The bowl and the napkin are my new sales “hunts” 😉 I love especially the bowl. It’s so rare to see something in this colour… The chilli is Turkish, medium hot, and the raw one has a particularly strong aroma, very nice to garnish a dish. Actually it’s quadruple chilli! Gochujang contains chilli+chilli flakes+fried fresh chilli+garnished with fresh chilli too! (I haven’t realised I’m such a chilli freak!).
      In France they sell such meat in some supermarkets too, but not in the ones I go to. I tasted it only once a long time ago and it tasted better I think. Now I have been buying only free-range and organic pork for at least two years. It tastes better, but for me it’s most important that pigs live happily (until a certain point…), walk, go outside etc. so I stick to it. Recently my organic shop in France has been selling pork tenderloin quite often, so the pork in this dish is organic (I’m glad and surprised because the French don’t eat much fresh pork compared to beef). I buy it in France because here organic/free-range tenderloin costs a fortune unless there is a special price for different reasons.

  5. Goodness! My mouth is watering looking at your picture! I love stir fry for the same reason too…quick and easy and dinner is ready in no time. 🙂 Can’t wait to try this.

  6. I have never been ‘in love’ with green beans either but just happen to have some lovely organics in the fridge so shall try it your way [possibly with a few tweaks 🙂 !] for tomorrow’s lunch! All things fair and equal, ’tis not that different from my favourite Szechwan recipes . . . lovely . . .

      1. Am having a bit of a laugh reading your comments: Of course we speak ‘English’ English here in Australia also and I too simply cannot write ‘color’ or ‘flavor’: to me the ‘u’ DOES belong 🙂 ! And we very definitely say ‘chilli’ whether it has to do with the wickedly hot little fruits of so many different kinds or the dish we very occasionally do eat!!!

        1. Thank you, Eha, for the confirmation. I read blogs written in English from different parts of the world and sometimes am confused about certain spellings…

  7. This dish looks like it will deliver on all promises, flavourful and surprising. I haven’t had much Korean food experiences but from the looks of your recipe, I’m pretty sure I would love it. Pork tenderloin is my favourite pork, it’s so lean that there is virtually no guilt in eating it (unless you eat the entire tenderloin!).

    1. Thank you very much, Eva. Korean food is extraordinary if you like a combination of hot and sweet flavours. There is also quite often the strong sesame oil or/and seeds taste. I am addicted to both.

  8. I have had very little Korean food in my lifetime and most has been the type that you grill on a little grill in front of you. This stirfry has really caught my attention because it’s made with one of my favorite cuts of meat – the pork tenderloin and one of my favorite vegetables – green beans. It also looks like it’s a little sweet & spicy which you know I love. Great meal Sissi and your photo is making me hungry! Have a great week!

    1. Thank you so much, MJ. I know you also love hot dishes, so I’m sure you would love this one too.

  9. Hi Sissi – how delicious this looks! Very professional-looking too… I must admit I don’t use pork tenderloin in stir-fries……. ever, in fact. I tend to use chops or something like this. It might end up a bit “dry” but to be honest I like it like this. Tenderloin is a lovely cut of pork though, I should try doing something more “exotic” with it like you! 🙂

    Remind me again what gochujang is? … I keep thinking it’s that plum wine stuff, but it’s not I guess, right?

    1. Hi Charles, thank you for the compliments. You are too kind… I prefer dried pork than no pork at all, but tenderloin is fabulous in stir-fries if you don’t want to use fat cuts. Gochujang is a Korean chili paste.

    1. Thank you very much, Nipponnin. When it’s tenderloin, it’s relatively harmless 😉

  10. Oooh, I love the fiery colour that gochujang lends to every dish. I also enjoyed reading that “chili/chile/chilli” comment thread above, as it was always something I was curious about. Even just the multitude of parallel lines (lilililililillili!!!) makes it more confusing!

    1. Thank you so much, Irina. We, the non native speakers, are really lost in the world of different versions of English and it’s difficult to stick just to one English… I do my best, but it’s hard.

  11. comfort stir fried dish,
    i think i’m gonna use my instant bulgogi paste for this recipe….
    btw, i don’t really like pork loin, too lean for my asian licking…..
    pork butt will the best option for me..

    1. I like fatty pork too, but I cannot have it in every pork dish alas. (This is not pork loin but tenderloin. A big difference.)

  12. I need to buy agave syrup when I get back. I see you use often and I’ve been tempted to try it. We love pork tenderloin dishes and this Korean version is wonderful recipe to add to my repertoire. I haven’t cooking much since I came here (besides helping my mom) and I can’t wait to try some new recipes when I go home, including your recent Korean dishes!

    1. Thanks a lot, Nami. I use agave syrup quite often because it’s apparently healthier than other syrups, I can buy its organic version, and it has a very neutral taste, so it’s quite versatile.

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