Japanese Ginger Pork (Shogayaki) is a recipe hailing from Milk Street. They explain that shoga means “ginger” in Japanese, and yaki translates as “grilled,” though the term is sometimes applied to foods that are fried or griddled. In the popular dish known as shogayaki, thinly sliced pork is cooked with a lightly sweetened, very gingery soy-based sauce.
Here, pork tenderloins are cut into quarters and pounded into thin cutlets. A quick soak in a marinade that later becomes the sauce ensures the cutlets are thoroughly flavored. Shredded green cabbage and steamed rice are the classic accompaniments so we paired them with the entrée.
In Japan, the meat of choice for shogayaki is thinly sliced pork loin. The thin cuts of meat cook quickly and make it easier for the seasonings to penetrate. But because making thin, even slices requires some challenging knife work, the thin slices of pork tenderloin are pounded even thinner. As a bonus, the pounding breaks apart the muscle fibers, making it even easier for the meat to season. Additionally, ginger has an enzyme called zingibain that helps tenderize meat.
After another recipe once-over, we decided to double the sauce—soy sauce through fresh ginger. We’re glad we did, but would not double the white sugar next time, it was a tad too sweet. Another major change we made was to coat the shredded cabbage with a one-to-one mixture of rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil with a pinch of salt. Overall, we feel the cabbage should be increased by utilizing the entire head, especially if this meal is to feed four. Finally, we also added an extra half bunch of scallions.
TIP: Don’t crowd the skillet when cooking the cutlets. It’s usually best to cook them in two batches so they brown rather than steam. But how they fit in the skillet depends on their shape after pounding. If you can fit all four in your pan without them touching, cook all at once using the 2 tablespoons of oil.
Japanese Ginger Pork (Shogayaki)
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp. mirin
- 2 Tbsp. sake
- 1 Tbsp. white miso
- 1½ Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
- 1¼ 1b. pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin
- 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
- 2 tsp. white sugar
- 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch piece
- ½ small head green cabbage, cored and finely shredded (about 3 cups)
- 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
- Cooked Japanese-style short-grain rice, to serve
- In a wide, shallow bowl whisk together the soy sauce, mirin, sake, miso and ginger.
- Cut the pork tenderloin in half crosswise, making the tail-end half slightly larger, then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Place 2 pieces of pork between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat pounder, gently pound each piece to an even ¼-inch thickness. Repeat with the 2 remaining pieces.
- Add the cutlets to the soy mixture and turn to coat, then let marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes.
- Mix the rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil together then add to a large bowl with the shredded cabbage and a pinch of salt. Mix well, and set aside.
- In the meantime, cook the Japanese rice according to package directions.
- Remove the cutlets from the marinade, letting the excess drain back into the bowl; reserve the marinade. Pat the cutlets dry with paper towels.
- In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add the cutlets in a single layer and cook undisturbed until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip each piece and continue to cook until the second sides are well browned, about another 2 minutes.
- Transfer to a large plate, then wipe out the skillet with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining oil and cutlets.
- Return the skillet to medium-high and add the reserved marinade, the sugar and ¼ cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the mixture thickens and a spoon drawn through it leaves a 1- to 2-second trail, about 3 minutes. (Because we doubled the sauce, it took twice as long to thicken properly.)
- Stir in the scallions, then add the pork and any accumulated juices. Cook, stirring gently, until the scallions are wilted and the pork is heated through, about 1 minute.
- Serve with the shredded cabbage and cooked rice.
Recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street