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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Island Pork with Sticky Coconut Rice

My friend Jessica had us over for dinner a few weeks ago and served Island Pork with Sticky Coconut Rice. People. PEOPLE. You are going to love me (well, Jessica) forever for introducing this recipe to you. I am head over heels for this dish.

The rub for the pork is savory and the glaze is sweet and the flavors all complement each other in such a lovely way…and there is just enough heat. Enough that I can taste the kick, but not so much my kids wouldn’t eat it. Quite the opposite, they loved it, too. The technique yields a perfectly cooked pork tenderloin – tender and juicy. And the sticky coconut rice? Again, it just pairs so nicely with the pork…and, seriously, I could eat it for dessert. Yum yum yum. Last selling point…the recipe is quite simple to prepare and doesn’t require any super fancy ingredients. I personally just had to pick up some pork and coconut milk at the store – everything else was already in the cupboard!

Without further ado, the recipe!

Island Pork
Someone named Mary Fetzer gave Jessica this recipe. The pork preparation originally comes from an Epicurious salad recipe. You could bop over to their website to check out the salad, but I really loved the pork served with the rice.
Recipe type: Main Dish, Pork
  • For the pork:
  • 2 pork tenderloins, 2¼ – 2½ pounds total (they generally come in one package together)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Rub:
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Glaze:
  • 1 cup brown sugar (Jane note: I now only use ½ cup of sugar, and it's plenty!)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix “Rub” ingredients, then coat pork with spice rub.
  3. Heat olive oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until just beginning to smoke, then brown pork, turning, about 4 minutes total. Leave pork in skillet.
  4. Mix glaze ingredients. Pat onto each tenderloin and roast in the center of oven until instant read thermometer inserted diagonally into center of each tenderloin reads 140°F, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let pork rest 10 minutes in skillet. Slice into ½”³ – 1”³ slices and serve over sticky coconut rice, pouring some of the remaining glaze over the pork and rice.

Sticky Coconut Rice
Recipe type: Side Dish, Rice
Serves: 6
  • 1½ cup jasmine rice (or whatever rice you like, I use brown)
  • 1 15-oz can regular or light coconut milk
  • 1 cup milk or water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (original recipe called for ½ cup, but we've reduced that amount over and over again over the years...2 tablespoons is perfect for our family now)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  1. Put rice in a medium sauce pan and combine with coconut milk, milk (or water), sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly, then reduce heat to low and cover pot. Simmer for about 25 minutes (could take up to 45 minutes depending on the type of rice you use). Stir regularly but cover pot between each stir.
  2. Rice and pork may be served with fresh, cubed mango, but this is optional (although I am certain it is delicious!).


  1. 1
    Ada Reid-Watson

    Tell me about the broccoli and cauliflower. That beautiful browning on the cauliflower makes me think that it was roasted. I’d love to know how that was made too!

  2. 3

    When I can I like to use brown rice but I’m guessing that for sticky rice it really wouldn’t work even if I modified it to add more liquid. Am I right? It looks so delicious I may need to try it anyway!

    • Jane Maynard

      they do sell brown jasmine rice, so I would definitely try it! I don’t even think stickiness is a huge factor here, the flavor is why it’s so yummy, so it wouldn’t be terrible if it was less sticky. I’ve never used brown jasmine, but brown calrose is still sticky, so maybe the jasmine would be too! definitely try it! and if you do, let me know how it is! 🙂

  3. 4

    Yum! Totally making this tonight, as I have a pork tenderloin in the fridge and all the rice ingredients in the pantry. I have made a modified version of the coconut rice using just coconut milk/water to cook the rice in, but I have always wondered how to pump up the creaminess factor, and I am sure this recipe is it. When I make mine, I will often throw pineapple chunks into the rice at the end…super yummy!

  4. Been trying to figure out what to make for a dinner with friends tomorrow night. Now I know! Thanks, Jane! 🙂

  5. 6

    How do we feel about using coconut milk in the rice cooker? Anyone ever tried it?

    • Jane Maynard

      got a response on twitter – woohoo!

      sabrina modelle @thetomatotart
      @janemaynard Yes yes yes. Do it all the time. Actually, just did a vegan rice pudding/sticky rice

    • I have not yet tried it, but imagine depending on the rice cooker there might be some extra cleanup. I already have to deal with that when I use mine to cook pearled barley. Just basically extra debris in the steam to clean off.

    • laura in san diego

      Do it! It’s just like adding water, or stock to your rice. My husband and kids love when I flavor the rice with coconut milk (we use lite) I’ll even throw the veggies in the top the last couple of minutes to steam them…less pots to dirty:)

  6. 7
    Lisa @ GF Canteen

    Carina – Yes, I’ve used coconut milk in my rice cooker. Turns out great. I make coconut rice pudding, plain coconut rice. It tastes fabulous. Works great. Smells wonderful.

  7. 8

    Coconut sounds delicious. I always flip over the package and make sure it comes from Thailand or such as well. It tastes soooo much more authentic than the tasteless starch grown in california and associated locations.

  8. Brown glutinous rice will give a stickier texture than brown jasmine rice. Glutinous rice, brown or white and coconut milk are great combinations.

  9. 10

    Thanks for the rec on the cauliflower! We are doing it tonight!

  10. YUM! I love pork tenderloin any way….but this way looks great! I’ve never used coconut milk to cook rice. I’ll have to try that soon. It’s sounds great!

  11. 12
    megan flowers

    Do you think the glaze would be to spicy for the little ones?

    • Jane Maynard

      there’s a little kick to it, but my 4 year old and 7 year old had no issues with the spiciness…you could always cut back on the tabasco and even the chili powder in the rub if you want to make it less spicy. it’s not super duper spicy but there IS some warmth. hope that’s helpful!

    • megan flowers

      Thank you! It look so yummy! I am in kind of a rut with dinners with my 2 year old. I don’t want to make him a separate meal so I tend keep making the same things over and over. He eats chicken shrimp and broccoli and of course bread and cheese. That rice sounds so yummy! That would go well with the chicken satay you posted a few months back.

  12. Sounds yummy and my 20 month old needs to gain weight so, coconut milk in her rice would be perfect (she LOVES rice!).

    Also, completely a different subject, how did you end up liking (or not) your Epiphanie camera/diaper bag? I’m thinking of getting one, but want some input before spending so much on a bag. I currently just use the little sling backpack thing they gave me at the hospital and it probably isn’t so good for my camera. Size, durability, function….?

    • Jane Maynard

      I am loving it. I have to warn you it doesn’t have as much space as a normal diaper bag, so I have to be very thoughtful about what I bring with me, especially when I have the camera and my lens in the bag as well. But I love all the compartments, it keeps my organized. AND…the big test was yesterday…my first time flying with the bag. It was full to the brim, and I had my camera and lens with me, and I was able to pack everything I needed, including 6 diapers and my wipes case. SOOOOO. I love it! it’s not huge, but it’s big enough and totally working for me. And I love knowing my camera is protected AND I can carry all my baby crap around, too!

  13. Made this for lunch today. The pork was moist and tender and none of my three older kids (8, 5, and 3. Also have an 8mo old, but she didn’t have any) even commented on the spiciness, which surprised me. The rice was not a hit, everyone thought it was too sweet. I might try it again without the added sugar… we just found the combination of the sweet rice and the sweet meat to be too much. You’d think the kids would have loved it for that very reason, but such was not the case. It was fun to try something new! Thanks for sharing.

    • Jane Maynard

      glad you liked the pork!

      and what can I say…I have a major sweet tooth. 😉 but what you believe the original recipe called for TWICE as much sugar as what I did and listed in the recipe? can you imagine how ridiculously sweet that must be? even I think that would be too much…

      I think it would be very worth trying the rice with just straight-up coconut milk, no sugar…would probably still be quite delicious!

      thanks for the great feedback!

  14. Made it! Loveeeeeed it! So easy and so amazing. Loved the rice and want to eat it like candy.

  15. 16

    Jane, I made this for dinner as planned. What a hit! So much yumminess. Can’t thank you enough! PS the tip about sticking a slice of bread in with the brown sugar worked like a charm. brilliant!

    • Jane Maynard

      yippee! so glad you guys liked it! you’re most welcome…

      and that brown sugar tip is the best, huh? 🙂

  16. 17

    Made this on Tuesday – unbelievable!! Thank you for sharing what will be a regular meal in our house!

  17. 18

    I made this for dinner last night and my husband had I what I call a foodgasm lol! We’re in love with this recipe and I’m glad you shared it. Thank you!

  18. 19

    Also, for the comments on the spiciness: I have a 3 year old, and I did cut back a smidge on the chili powder. I didn’t have any tabasco, but I did have siracha (sp?) and I used half a tablespoon instead of a whole one and it was super yummy! Just a little bit of heat, not too much. Still, he wouldn’t try it anyway which was frustrating, but I figure he just missed out. Ah well.

  19. 20

    This looks deish, thanks.

  20. 21

    Holy yummy dinner! This was incredible. Clean plates all round, double thumbs up AND several “Mummy you must make this again!”.

    Thank you 🙂

  21. 22
    Sara T.

    This is in my oven & on my stovetop as I type 🙂 For the veggie I have some ears of corn roasting in the oven alonside the cast iron skillet. Can’t wait to try it all! Thanks for sharing this recipe. I like that there’s a good portion of it that I can prep ahead.

  22. 23
    Sara T.

    Trying both of these again tonight. The husband has been especially asking for the coconut rice. Tonight we are trying it with light coconut milk and almond milk.

  23. 24

    This takes a lot longer than 20 minutes to cook. Mine was raw inside.

    • Jane Maynard

      maureen – it is important to cook it to the temperature stated, not the time. 140 degrees (which took about 20 minutes for me, but I put that in there just as a guide). definitely be sure to use a thermometer and it will come out perfectly cooked every time! the recipe is amazing, so I hope you’ll try it again and cook to the temp rather than the time

      thanks, maureen!

  24. 25

    The pork was amazing. Truly. I found that it was best after the rest on the pork to move it to a plate and reheat the glaze over low heat to smooth it out. Rice was okay but took a long time and much more liquid until I didn’t taste the coconut but thats a combo of the rice and my cooktop which is flakey. I added about a teaspoon of sirracha to the glaze too. Added a depth and heat that we love in our house. This was a great tenderloin recipe. Thank you! It’s going in my own recipe book.

  25. 26

    This was “amazing”…… My family couldn’t get enough!

  26. 27

    This recipe is de-lish!! I am a newlywed and learning to manage my new role as a wife. This recipe has been my greatest cooking success thus far! My husband and I both LOVE it! THANK YOU! & also thank you for your blog and general meal-planning advice. It has really helped me with my transition into cooking several meals per week.

    I have one question! I took half of the pork with the sauce and placed it in the freezer for a later meal. Do you have any tips for freezing/reheating this dish? What is the best approach to reheating to maintain the tenderness and deliciousness of the tenderloin?

    Thanks again! 🙂

    • Jane Maynard

      hi kate! thanks for your sweet comment! I am SO happy that my blog has been a help for you!

      I would take the leftovers out of the freezer the day before you want eat them and have it defrost in the fridge. then I would probably reheat in the oven at around 300-325 degrees or so, with foil covering to keep all the moisture in. we hace a toaster oven with a “reheat” setting and it defaults to 325 and things always come out great that way! I think this probably ideal for reheating it and maintaining texture and moisture. let mek now how it goes! (I would avoid the microwave!)

    • Kate

      The defrosting/reheating tips work perfectly – thank you! It is just as delicious the second time around. I am making this again tonight & the smell from the oven is so wonderful! Thanks again! 🙂

    • Jane Maynard

      oh, I”m so glad to hear it! yay!

  27. 28

    Jane, I’m planning to make this for some friends tomorrow night. You know how I love this dish! Will be thinking of you and bemoaning the fact that we never did get together and now you’ve moved. Hope you and the family are well!

  28. 29

    Yum that looks good (you should hear my tummy growling right now. I reckon my kids would really like this one. And that rice is perfect to mop up all those juices. Thanks 🙂

  29. 30

    Hi Jane,

    Just found your website, I’m moving in with my partner at the end of this month and he can’t cook for toffee so he’s going to be the cleaner and I’m going to be the cook! Love cooking but never know what to cook! It’s particularly hard because he’s not a fan of potatoes and I always use them as a side to bulk up a meal!

    He’s a huge coconut fan so I’m going to have to add this to the list (along with a lot of other recipes I’ve found on this ridiculously helpful blog!)

    Thank you 🙂

    • so glad you found the site – welcome! this meal is one of my FAVORITES ever, so you have good taste! and I think your division of labor sounds good…I would much rather be the cook than the cleaner! 😉 hope to “See” you around!

  30. 31

    Ty for yumy Recipe!

  31. 32
    Mary Hale

    Can I make the rice in the instant pot?

    • somehow your comment slipped through the cracks and here I am a year later not being super helpful 😉

      I’m sure that you could! but I haven’t…definitely make sure you follow conversion recipe from someone who knows what they are doing!

      Although I will say that roasted pork loin is quite divine and I like being able to check the temp and take it out when it’s ready…so even if you can instant pot it, I would probably go with baking anyway.

      hope that is helpful!

  32. 33

    Delicious recipe! Great flavor and very quick to put together. It was a hit and will be on regular rotation.

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