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Welcome to Mad Men Week! I’m celebrating the April 7 return of Mad Men with recipes inspired by the show and its (rumored) season six premiere setting: Hawaii. Today’s Char Siu Pork Sliders were inspired by last season’s episode, “Tea Leaves,” where Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) gets the munchies and demolishes an entire sack of White Castle burgers. It’s OK, Harry. We’ve all been there.

Due to my seafood allergy and our goal to cut back on beef, we have pork (or chicken) approximately 9 million times a week. It can get a little boring, which is why I jump up and down and high-five myself every time I find a new pork recipe that we both really love.

Ladies and gentlemen, Char Siu Pork:

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“Char Siu” means “fork roast,” since the Chinese have traditionally barbecued the pork by skewering it onto long forks and roasting it over a fire. In this case, the pork is marinated first in a mixture of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sugar and ketchup, so the outside gets nice and sweet while the inside stays tender.

Don’t miss the finishing touch: those toasted sesame seeds. It’s a simple step that’d be tempting to just chuck, but that extra layer of crunch and salty, toasted flavor balances the sweetness of the pork and takes these slices to the next level.

You can eat the pork as-is, but I decided to make sliders, mainly so I could break out the tater tots. Just pick up a pack of Hawaiian dinner rolls, split them, slather on the Chinese hot mustard (and/or mango chutney), and dig in.

And don’t forget to high-five yourself.

Char Siu Pork Sliders 

Slightly adapted from “Trader Vic’s Tiki Party!”

Makes about 32 slices

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 2 pounds total), trimmed and silver skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted, for garnish (see Note)
  1. In a small bowl or sealable plastic bag, combine the sugar, ketchup, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce. Add the pork, and let it stand, refrigerated, for 4 to 24 hours. 
  2. Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-hot. Remove the pork from the marinade, and place it on the grill. (Discard the marinade.)
  3. Grill the pork until it’s dark golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 150 degrees F, about 15 minutes. (Check the meat often, since the sugar in the sauce can burn quickly.)
  4. Transfer the pork to a cutting board, and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  5. To serve, sprinkle the pork with the sesame seeds, and slice it thinly, cutting diagonally across the grain.
  6. Slice the rolls horizontally, spread with Chinese hot mustard and/or mango chutney, and stuff them with pork.

Note: Toast sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, shaking the pan until the seeds are golden.

To Roast the Pork in the Oven: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place an aluminum foil-lined pan in the oven. Set the pork directly on the rack over the pan (to catch the drippings). Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, turning once during cooking. (The meat should register at least 150 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.) Let the meat rest for 10 minutes, and sprinkle it with the sesame seeds.