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PREP: 15 Minutes COOK: 30 Minutes

Serves 2-3

Difficulty: Simple

A global twist on the iconic pork tenderloin sandwich The Iowa Skinny, that's packed with fragrant Chinese flavors. Tender venison lightly pounded, seasoned with savory and spicy seasonings, and pan-fried for an even crispy coating. This sandwich delivers both in taste and crunch appeal. 



  • 2 Maui Nui venison tenderloins (about 1 lb total, pack size may vary – adjust the recipe accordingly)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • ¾ tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tsp Chinese 5-spice, divided
  • 4 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • ¼ tsp Maggi Seasoning (or soy sauce)
  • 3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar, divided
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • ½ tsp toasted sesame oil
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup diced English (hothouse) cucumber
  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 2 tsp chili oil or hot sauce (or to taste)
  • 1-1/2 cups thinly sliced cabbage (green or red, or a mix)
  • ½ cup All-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup rice flour (or just use all AP flour)
  • Neutral vegetable oil
  • 3 buns, toasted
Step 1:
Cut each tenderloin in half (each cut piece should be about 3-4”). Slice open each piece lengthwise down the middle, opening the meat up like a book until you almost reach the other side (be careful not to cut all the way through). Gently pound each piece with a meat tenderizer until they are about ¼” thick (be careful not to tear the meat). Note* optional to cover with saran wrap before pounding.
Step 2:

Mix buttermilk, soy sauce, garlic powder, and 1 tsp 5 spice powder in a medium bowl or container. Place the pounded meat in the marinade and coat thoroughly; set aside.

Step 3:

In a small bowl mix together the mayonnaise and Maggi Seasoning; set aside.

Step 4:

In another small bowl mix together 2 Tbsp vinegar, ginger, sesame oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper; set aside.

Step 5:

 Place the cucumber and scallion in another small bowl and toss with chili oil, 1 Tbsp rice vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper; set aside.

Step 6:

Then mix together the flours, 2 tsp 5 spice powder, and 1 tsp salt and spread out on a large plate or small baking dish.

Step 7:

Set up a sheet pan with a rack. Remove a tenderloin cutlet from the buttermilk solution, let excess marinade drip away, and coat with the flour mixture. Place on the wire rack to let the coating set up. Repeat with the remaining pieces. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Step 8:

 Meanwhile, toast the buns, toss the cabbage with the vinegar-ginger dressing, and get the rest of the sandwich components ready for assembly.

Step 9:

Add a thin layer of oil to coat the bottom of a large heavy skillet and place over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering add the venison cutlets, being careful not to overcrowd the pan (watch out for splattering). You may have to cook the pieces in batches (add a little more oil if necessary and let it come up to heat). Fry until golden brown on the bottom and carefully turn the pieces over and continue to cook until golden brown on the other side. Remove to a clean rack or plate.

Step 10:

To assemble the sandwiches spread mayo on both sides of the buns, add a few tablespoons of the cucumber relish to each bottom bun, evenly distribute the cutlets on top of the relish, add a handful of the cabbage, and finish with the top bun. Enjoy!

An alternative method of cooking tenderloin:

If frying’s not your thing you could always grill the venison tenderloin cutlets if you choose – just make a marinade out of the soy, garlic, and 5 spice powder and soak the cutlets for 30 minutes before cooking them.

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