Japanese Ginger Pork (豚の生姜焼き) Buta no Shogayaki

by Jackie Miao

One cuisine that my family does not seem to tire of is Japanese. As such, I have been cooking a lot of Japanese dishes at the turn of the new year. So far, I’ve made tempura udon, three types of sushi, and chicken katsu. This evening I attempted to make shogayaki, or Japanese ginger pork dish.

My 3-year old has been watching this video on YouTube about What Japanese Really Eat for Dinner and there’s this girl in there who tells that she “likes ginger pork.” This prompted my little one to request for his mama to make ginger pork!

What is Shogayaki?

Shogayaki is a fried ginger pork dish from Tokyo, Japan. It can be made using chicken and beef too, but the shogayaki more commonly refers to the pork version of the dish. Buta no Shogayaki (豚の生姜焼き) is the full name of the dish. Shoga means ginger, and yaki means to fry in Japanese.

How I approached this dish

Before I make anything, I make it a point to read different recipes of the same dish from at least three different cooks that are native to the cuisine I’m attempting to make. This is so that I get a sense of the essence of a dish, and also get to choose how I want to make it.

Today I referenced the shogayaki recipes of Nami Chen from Just One Cookbook, Marc Matsumoto from NoRecipes.com, and Asako Yoshida’s cookbook Classic Home Cooking from Japan. I cherry-picked portions of two recipes, and cooked them with whatever cut of meat I had in my freezer. I also tweaked the moisture of the dish to my liking.

If you don’t care about the details, you can skip right to the recipe. However, I want to honor the chefs and cooks whose work informs and inspires my own meals. It is because they share their recipes, that my family gets to enjoy these meals.

The reason why I feel the need to even put up a recipe, is because I take things I learn from everywhere, then mash it all up with to my own liking. This is why it is important for me to mention my sources. So here goes:-

  • Meat Prep – The meat prep of marinating the pork in ginger juice and sake to remove the smell of pork is from Marc Matsumoto of NoRecipes.com. Ginger is used in Chinese cooking to do the same. Marinating meat in ginger juice is a technique my paternal grandma taught me to make her ginger chicken dish, so this step to prep the pork was very familiar to me.
  • Flouring the Meat – Nami Chen of JOC suggested coating the meat in flour before pan-frying them. Coating meat with starch before frying is coincidentally also a very Chinese technique to yield juicy and moist meat. I chose to use this technique because it’s how I cook most meat dishes at home anyway.
  • Portion – I used more meat than Chen, Matsumoto, and Yoshida. About 1 lb, which probably means my dish is less salty than theirs (which is what I like).
  • Sauce – The sauce ratio is from JOC, but Yoshida’s sauce ratio is similar, even though her prep and cooking technique is different. I’ve always liked Nami Chen’s sauce flavors, even though I don’t think there is ever enoughsauce to some of her recipes. To fix how dry the dish got, I just added back 1/2 cup of water at a time (up to 1 cup) when cooking to make everything lower sodium tasting, but saucier. The result was perfect.
  • Pork cut – All three recipes use pork loin, but since I had some pork butt meant for char siu in the freezer, that was the cut I used. It has more fat than loin, which makes the meat more moist and tender. I later found a fourth recipe after the fact. In his blog SudachiRecipes.com, Yuto Omura uses pork shoulder or pork belly for his shogayaki. I’d say this is definitely a dish that you can make with whatever cut of pork you can get that won’t turn out tough after cooking. I’ve also made it with pork loin, and it’s just leaner but delicious too.
  • Pork slice thickness – Both Chen and Matsumoto suggested cutting the meat to about 3mm. Yoshida makes hers thicker at 6mm. Mine is somewhere in between that (about 4-5mm). Omura’s recipe calls for thinner pork slices.

How it turned out

My husband and son really loved the shogayaki. Hubby said it had good flavor, and my little one ate a lot pork tonight. He even learned a new word and said “ITADAKIMASU” by himself.

All things considered, this came out really delicious. I think this is the way I like to make it. I can see how other methods would yield a slightly different result, and I’ll try those recipes next time.* There was nothing to be improved upon, except maybe an addition of sunomono for a side dish would tie the meal together more perfectly. We served this with brown rice, shredded cabbage, tomatoes, steamed broccoli, and miso soup with aburaage.

Gluten-Free Version

Just substitute the flour with cornstarch.

ENJOY!

Japanese Ginger Pork (豚の生姜焼き) Buta no Shogayaki

Tokyo-style ginger pork dish
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Author: Jackie Miao

Ingredients

  • 1 lb sliced pork butt, loin, belly or shoulder 3-5mm thickness
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour for dredging
  • 1 onion (sliced) 3mm thickness
  • 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil neutral tasting

Pork Marinade

  • 1 tsp ginger juice
  • 2 tsp sake

Ginger Sauce

  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp ginger finely grated
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

  • Prep and get ready all the individual ingredients. Prepare the onions, grated ginger, and ginger juice. Set aside.
  • Slice the pork to about 3-4mm thick slices. Place the pork in a bowl, and add the 1 tsp ginger juice and 2 tsp of sake marinade. Mix the marinade evenly, then set aside to rest for about 5-8 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, add all the ingredients for the ginger sauce. Mix thoroughly.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a nonstick pan on medium high heat.
  • Dredge the pork with the flour, making sure all sides are coated. Then shake off the excess, then sear the pork slices on each side for 3 minutes. Remove from the pan.
  • Add 1 tbsp of oil to the pan and stir fry the sliced onions for about 5 minutes. Add the pork slices back to the pan.
  • Pour the ginger sauce and mix thoroughly. Once all the pork pieces are coated with the sauce, stir fry that for a minute or two.
  • Add 1/2 cup of water, and mix the shogayaki well. Reduce the heat to medium, close the pan lid, and steam for another 5 minutes. If the dish doesn't have enough sauce, just add a bit more water at 1/4 cup increments.
  • Serve with steamed rice, grated cabbage, steamed broccoli, tomatoes, and miso soup for a complete meal.

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