Pork Tenderloin with Plum Sauce

I've been making this recipe for almost 30 years.  I'm not sure how long before that my grandmother had been making it, but it is a recipe that has lasted through the years.  The original recipe called for canned plums.  In summer I use real plums and make big batches of the sauce and freeze it for future recipes.  You can also "can" the sauce in canning jars using the normal preserving methods you would use when you make jam or tomato sauce or anything you want to preserve for future use.

Serves 4-6

This is an incredibly delicious and very healthy main course that I learned from my grandmother, Jean Darling.  I've been making this now famous Pork Tenderloin with Plum Sauce since I was 19. I called my Granny for her recipe when I was in college in Washington, DC. I remember Granny reading the ingredients over the phone to me (no measurements, just ingredients and technique.) My grandmother is an amazing cook and this was one of my favorite recipes that she made.   I generally serve it with couscous that I cook in chicken broth, and either asparagus or green beans.  As I became a chef and learned more about sauce making I improvised the original recipe and began using fresh ginger and fresh plums.  I'm including the plum sauce recipe in both its original version as well as the updated version.  

For the pork tenderloin:
2 pork tenderloins, approx 1 pound each (if larger than 1 pound you'll need to cook them a few minutes longer)
4 tablespoons canola oil or grapeseed oil
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground pepper
ground ginger
ground cloves
ground allspice

(Plum Sauce recipe follows below.) 

1. Make the plum sauce before you make the pork.  The plum sauce can be made 5 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator or months in advance if your freeze it.  

2.  Light grill and keep on high.

3. Trim excess fat and silverskin from pork tenderloins. Rinse and pat dry. Coat pork well with canola oil or grapeseed oil by rubbing the oil all over the meat with your hands.  

4.  Generously salt and pepper both sides. The sprinkle with ground cloves and ground ginger. Lightly sprinkle with allspice.

5.  Put pork on high heat on the grill. Sear one side for approximately 4-6 minutes.

6. Turn over and continue to cook for 5-7 minutes. The pork will feel firm to touch and will be very slightly pink in the center when sliced. Remove from the grill and cover with tin foil to keep warm. Let it stand, covered, for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

7. Slice meat and cover generously with plum sauce, as the meat will absorb it. Serve additional plum sauce at the table. 


I'm writing both recipes, one using fresh plums and one using canned plums, because so many people make Granny's original recipe and they want that kept intact.  The updated version using fresh plus, fresh ginger and red pepper flakes is also listed. They are both delicious so make whichever one is easiest for you.  

Recipe using Fresh Plums:
photography Amy Albertson

photography Amy Albertson
Plums Chopped Up and Ready to Go

 Add 1/3 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon allspice,
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) 
and one tablespoon fresh minced ginger

Cook for about 20 minutes.  Do not add water, the plums will release liquid as they cook.  

 The finished sauce, ready to serve.  Delicious!


6 plums, pites removed and roughly chopped
1/3 cup sugar
Juice from two lemons 
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
     (or substitue 1 teaspoon dry ground ginger.)
1/2 teaspoon allspice

Place all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook over medium high heat for 20 minutes or until plums are broken down.  Stir with a spoon.  If you want a smoother sauce, you can puree it after it has cooled a bit.  If you like chunkier sauce, serve it as is.

It keeps for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.  It also freezes extremely well, so you can make this in advance for a dinner party and then reheat it just before you serve it.  In fact, the flavor improves when you reheat it.  You can also put it in canning jars using normal preserving methods.

Granny's original recipe using canned plums
Granny (Jean Darling) in 2002 at the Ballard School Luau Fundraiser

These plums are found in many grocery stores.  Usually they are not with 
the other canned fruit.  They are typically in the baking aisle near pie filling.  
They aren't pie filling.  They are just plums in sugar syrup.  You can order
them on-line from amazon as well as other various sources.  

Jean Darling's Plum Sauce 

1 15-ounce can of plums in heavy syrup
Juice from 1 ½ large lemons, (use fresh lemon juice only)
1 ½ teaspoons light soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ cup red wine, (optional)

Make the plum sauce before you put the meat on the grill. Pit the plums and discard the pits.  Pour all  of the pitted plums and liquid from the can into a saucepan. Add the juice from the lemons, the soy sauce, sugar, red wine, and spices. Either purée with an emersion blender or pour contents of pan into a blender and purée. Heat contents to a boil and then cook on low for at least 10 to 15 minutes. (It can be cooked on low heat for up to 1 hour).

Maili Karen Darling Halme


Carole said…
Lovely use of plums! Would you be happy to link it in to the new Food on Friday which is all about plums? This is the link . I do hope to see you there. Cheers
Anonymous said…
Made this for dinner tonite. Just one word for it AWESOME !

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