Skewers of pork tenderloin and slabs of vegetables are marinated satay style, brushed with the coconut milk based, spice infused marinade while grilling, then topped with a unique coconut cucumber yogurt dressing and satay sauce.


pork and veggie satay on skewers with coconut cucumber dressing.

This recipe is based on the premise that thin slabs of anything marinated and skewered, create more surface area for marinade and grill charring, and dry out less, which is why I’ve always loved satay. While satay refers to a Southeast Asian style of skewered meat, I’ve only experienced those skewers in the form of thin slabs of meat at Thai restaurants, marinated in wonderfully flavorful coconut curry spices. Combine this idea in my fusion style brain with the desire for a new way to prepare pork tenderloin, and a way to infuse vegetables with the delicious Thai style marinade and you have this preparation. Aside from taking the time to skewer the slabs of pork, cabbage and onion, the recipe is a breeze, and comes together quickly.

finished tray of pork and veggie satay skewers.

Above: finished skewers of pork tenderloin with red cabbage and spring onions take a little time to skewer but cook quickly and yield highly flavorful results.

Why this recipe works

  • Lean pork tenderloin can easily be turned into thin slabs to marinate. Skewering the slabs and grilling them quickly, allows the pork to become more flavorful than whole roasted pork tenderloin and less at risk for drying out.
  • Both cabbage and onion come alive with flavor when grilled.
  • The coconut milk based curry marinade brushes nicely over the veggies and also makes a wonderful drizzle sauce for the finished dish.
  • Typically satay is served with a peanut dipping sauce and a cucumber/vinegar salad. This recipe incorporates two inventive sauces, a coconut cucumber dressing and a coconut curry satay sauce. More flavors, more to love!

Above: In the spring I find young/spring onions frequently in New England. If your area does not sell these types of onions, use regular onions (red or Vidalia are tasty choices) or scallions/green onions. Either choice will be delicious grilled.

Ingredient notes

  • Pork tenderloin– the shape of the tenderloin makes it easy to cut into slabs that take on lots of flavor from the marinade. I’ve read that pork is actually the most commonly used satay meat in Southeast Asia.
  • Coconut cucumber dressing– coconut milk is added to yogurt to create a unique tzatziki style dressing, tangy with lime and fragrant with fresh herbs. Pickled or fresh jalapeno adds a welcome kick (in place of Thai chilis typically used in the marinade part of satay) to the dressing but you can leave it out if you do not want the element of chili heat.
  • Veggies– the red cabbage and onions both hold up well on the grill and offer great texture and substance. You can sub other slabs of veggies if you prefer. I find this combination unique and filling.
  • Satay Sauce– half of the marinade is held aside to heat up and thicken with a slurry so you can drizzle it over the finished product. So good (photos coming soon).

Step-by-step instructions

If using wooden skewers, I always soak them in water for 15 minutes or so, so they are less likely to burn on the grill.

Then you will want to get the pork going, by cutting it, mixing the marinade ingredients and placing the slabs of pork in the marinade while you complete the rest of the prep.

Above: protein prep begins by cutting the tenderloin into thirds across the length, then cutting each third into 4 slabs before marinating.

Next you should prep the ingredients for the coconut cucumber yogurt dressing, and mix them altogether in a bowl, then set the bowl in the fridge to chill and marinate.

bowl of coconut cucumber yogurt dressing.

With the items done that need time to sit and marinate, next you can prepare the vegetables by cleaning them and slicing them into slabs about 1/4-1/2″ thick. This should allow you to then thread them onto skewers. Place the finished skewers on some parchment on a sheet pan, brush with a tad of olive oil and brush both sides with the marinade.

With all the other prep complete, you can thread the pork slabs onto skewers, taking care to thread them through the long way, and keeping the meat stretched out on the skewers versus bunching it up.

The last thing to do before heading to the grill is to create the thickened satay sauce by heating the reserved half of the sauce in a small pan over medium heat. Once it is bubbling around the edges, keep it to a simmer, and add the slurry mix of cornstarch and water, then whisk continuously, in a chill way, no worries here 🙂 for a few minutes until it thickens enough for your liking. It should dribble off the spoon rather than pouring off like water.

It’s grill time. Head out to the grill. I recommend brushing the grill surface so it is clean, and brushing the surface with a bit of oil, since the veg and pork do not have much fat in them.

all the satay components ready to grill.

I like to grill the veggies first, for a few minutes on high with lid closed, flipping to get both sides, then move them to the side and grill the pork skewers, only for about 5 minutes per side, and also, on med-high with lid closed. For all the skewers brush both sides as you grill them, with the extra marinade you should still have.

Your finished skewers should look lovely. They should have a golden hue from the turmeric and curry spices and some delicious char and grill marks. Time to dig in with the coconut cucumber dressing and satay sauce!

plate of finished grilled satay skewers of pork and veggies.

Tips for making this recipe

  • Make the coconut dressing ahead by a few hours or a full day.
  • Make the marinade a day ahead and prep and marinate the pork a day ahead.
  • Create the thickened satay sauce a day ahead or the morning of.
  • Prep and skewer the veggies ahead.
  • If you do the above ahead of time, then you’ve only got threading the pork and grilling the food to do at meal time.
  • Keep the veggies and pork on separate skewers since they cook in different amounts of time.
  • Grill cleaning and treatment- since the skewers and marinade do not contain much fat, I recommend cleaning and wiping grill with oil before cooking, and also drizzling a tad of oil on the veg skewers when threading them to avoid sticking.
  • Grill time to avoid sticking- I also recommend letting the skewers of both the veggies and pork grill for a solid 5 minutes before attempting to move and flip them with tongs, to avoid sticking and breakage. Take care to loosen the meat the full lengh of skewer before attempting to pick it up to flip.
finished platter of pork and veggie satay, on platter with coconut cucumber dressing.

Related Recipes

This is the first skewer and grilling recipe I’ve posted but check out my other protein and vegetable recipes!

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pork and veggie satay on skewers with coconut cucumber dressing.

Pork and Veggie Satay with Coconut Cucumber Dressing (using Tenderloin)

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Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Threading the Skewers: 15 minutes
Servings4 see notes
Calories487
Skewers of lean pork tenderloin and slabs of vegetables are marinated satay style, brushed with more of the coconut based, warm spice infused marinade during grilling, then topped with a unique coconut yogurt cucumber dressing and satay sauce.
Kitchen Tools
  • 1 outdoor grill, sub indoor grill appliance

Ingredients
 

  • 1 pound pork tenderloin (or a bit over a pound, as they often are.)
  • 1/2 purple cabbage (sliced into 1/2" slabs)
  • 4 spring (young) onions (sub small onion any type or scallions (green onions) – see notes)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (to drizzle on veggie slabs before grilling)
Satay Marinade
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 4 tsps lime juice (fresh squeezed, to taste)
  • 4 tsps brown sugar (sub coconut sugar)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp curry
  • 1 tsp garam masala
Slurry
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp water
Coconut Yogurt Cucumber Dressing
  • 1 cup chopped cucumbers (I use baby w/skins on)
  • 1/2 cup greek non-fat yogurt (sub whole milk and/or regular yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup coconut (milk)
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsps fresh basil (chopped)
  • 2 tbsps fresh cilantro (chopped, sub parsley)
  • a few slices of pickled or sweet/sour jalapenos (sub 1/2 fresh jalapeno finely minced.)

Method:
 

Prepare Pork
  • Cut pork tenderloin in thirds, across the length (see photo in post)
  • Cut each third into 4 slices, lengthwise (the opposite way from how you cut it into thirds) to create four rectangular (ish) 1/4" thick slabs from each third.
Make Satay Marinade
  • Mix all ingredients in bowl and whisk for a bit to dissolve the sugar.
  • Divide the marinade in two. Put half aside to make thickened sauce for finished satay and divide the other half in two for use as the marinade (half for pork, half for veggies).
Marinate Pork
  • Mix half the marinade (as mentioned above) w/the pork and refrigerate while you finish prep.
Make Dressing
  • Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and let chill while you finish the prep.
Prepare Veggies
  • Cut cabbage into 1/4" (ish) thick slabs. Cut spring onions into 3 lengthwise slabs per onion. Depending on what type of onion you are using, you want to cut across onions to create slabs thick enough to thread onto skewers.
  • Skewer the veggies, by threading through the slabs as per photos. This isn't always easy, but the flat slabs can hold a lot of marinade which makes for a tasty and pretty dish.
  • Lay on sheet pan, brush or drizzle with a little oil, then brush both sides with the other half of the marinade, leaving some to brush when the meat and veggies are being grilled (you should have about 1/4-1/3 left for the grill time).
Skewer the Pork Satay
  • Once all the above is done, you can pull the pork and thread 2-4 pieces, lengthwise (for flat skewers of meat) on each skewer, depending on the size of your skewers. Take care to keep the slabs stretched out on the skewers versus bunching the meat up.
Make finish satay sauce (thicken with slurry)
  • Heat small pan on medium with the other half of the marinade you put aside.
  • Once it comes to a low simmer, add the slurry (whisk cornstarch and water together to form the slurry), and whisk continuously for a few minutes until slightly thickened. Set aside until serving.
Grill the Skewers of Pork and Veggies
  • Heat outside bbq grill to high, and lay the veggie skewers first, brush with more marinade, and close grill cover. Grill for 5-10 minutes, then turn and repeat.
  • Once veggies have cooked, move to edges and grill pork. 5 min per side. Since there is no oil in the marinade I recommend wiping the grill with oil, or brush a bit of oil on the pork before laying to grill. As with the veggies, brush the remaining marinade on the pork as you cook it.
  • Serve up with the cucumber dressing and satay sauce drizzled over the top of the dish and/or served on the side. Add cooked rice to the plates if you are super hungry!

Notes

Servings-this recipe is written as serving 4 with one pork tenderloin, yielding 1/4 lb per person. Scale up or down depending on how many you typically serve with one pork tenderloin.
Spring onions- as per the photos in this post, I’m using young onions with the green tops attached. You can use large shallots, small onions w/out the tops, or scallions/green onions. The flavor of all of these is heavenly w/the marinade and charred on the grill.

Nutrition (an estimate)

Calories: 487kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 861mg | Potassium: 1.364mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin C: 84mg | Calcium: 178mg | Iron: 5mg | Magnesium: 115mg | Net Carbohydrates: 38g
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