The fragrant spice rub is good on chicken and spareribs as well. Make extra and store in an airtight container for up to a few weeks--it's like money in the bank. Prep and Cook Time: about 40 minutes, plus at least 1 hour marinating time. Notes: Cooked pork is best when still a bit rosy and juicy. (Trichinosis in pigs is nearly nonexistent in the United States now, but if you are concerned about it, cook the pork till well done--155° instead of 140°. Its temperature will rise another 10° as it rests after cooking.) Reserve some in the fridge for replenishing the buffet (reheat in a 200° oven).
3 pork tenderloins (1 lb. each)
Coarse salt for sprinkling on tenderloins
2 tablespoons star anise (about 8 pods crushed with the back of a heavy saucepan)
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon coarse salt
About 2 tbsp. olive oil
Good-quality balsamic vinegar for drizzling
How to Make It
Liberally season tenderloins with salt. Coarsely grind star anise, coriander, and fennel using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. Add five-spice powder, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, and salt; pound or whirl to combine. Rub spice mixture on pork until thickly coated on all sides (save remaining mixture for another use). Let pork sit at least 1 hour (at cool room temperature, covered) or up to 1 day (covered and chilled).
Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a 10- to 12-in. heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tenderloins and brown well on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes, drizzling in additional olive oil as needed. Meat is done when it registers 140° on a meat thermometer (cut to test--it should be cooked but still rosy). If meat is not done, cover pan, lower heat to medium, and cook until thermometer registers 140° (cut to test), up to 10 minutes more.
Remove tenderloins from pan, cover with foil, and let rest at least 10 minutes. Cook remaining tenderloin the same way, but brown it over medium heat and check temperature after 10 minutes. Slice meat into 3/4-in. rounds and drizzle with vinegar.