Cumin-Chile Pork Kebabs

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Prep: 40 min
  • Cook: 20 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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2 tablespoons cumin seeds

4 scallions (3 roughly chopped, 1 thinly sliced)

1 jalapeno pepper, roughly chopped (remove seeds for less heat)

1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped 

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for brushing

1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 pork tenderloins (about 1 1/2 pounds total), trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-to-2-inch pieces

1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil


  1. Soak 12 long wooden skewers in water, at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, toast the cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, swirling the pan, until slightly golden, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Combine the 3 chopped scallions, the jalapeno, ginger, garlic, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, the brown sugar, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, the five-spice powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a food processor and pulse until a paste forms. Add the toasted cumin seeds; pulse once or twice to crack them slightly. 
  3. Lightly season the pork with salt and pepper; rub with about three-quarters of the cumin paste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. 
  4. Meanwhile, make the sauce: Combine 1 teaspoon of the remaining cumin paste, the remaining 1/4 cup soy sauce, the vinegar, sesame oil and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Stir in the sliced scallion and set aside.
  5. Preheat a grill to medium. Combine the remaining cumin paste and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a small bowl; set aside for basting. Generously brush the grill grates with vegetable oil. Thread 3 or 4 pieces of pork on each skewer and brush with vegetable oil. Grill the kebabs, turning, until marked all over, 6 to 9 minutes, basting with the cumin-oil mixture during the last minute. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Drizzle with the sauce.