With meetings in the city every day this week and a cold that doesn’t seem to get the clue, I haven’t exactly been looking forward to spending time in the kitchen. That’s why I have tried and true standbys like this Shōgayaki to get me through the week.
Shōgayaki (生姜焼き), literally means “grilled with ginger” and is a super simple, fabulously flavorful way to prepare your favorite protein. In Japan, it’s usually made with thin pork chops (I’ve used both rib and shoulder chops), but this marinade will work equally well with lamb chops, chicken thighs or even tofu.
Savory, aromatic, and pleasantly sweet, the marinade caramelizes around the outside of the meat, giving it a magical mahogany glaze that’s redolent of ginger and earthy miso. But this pairing is about more than just harmonious flavors. The enzymes in both miso and ginger help tenderize meat. That’s why this ginger pork is ready to cook in minutes rather than hours.
Because the pork chops are thin, it’s important to cut slits into the meat to break up the connective tissue, otherwise the chops will curl as they fry making it difficult to cook evenly. If you’re using chicken thighs, you can skip the slitting, but you’ll need to make sure it’s filleted to an even thickness so it cooks evenly. You’ll also want to start off with a cool pan , otherwise the marinade will burn before the chicken is cooked through. As for tofu, use a firm tofu and dry it thoroughly with paper towels before marinating it to keep the marinade from getting watery.
- Use a sharp knife to slice shallow slits about 1/4" apart in one direction all the way across one side of each piece of meat.
- Flip the cutlets over and make the same slits perpendicular to the directions of the slits on the first side. If you make the slits in the same direction you run the risk of cutting all the way through the meat.
In a small bowl, whisk together the sake, miso, sugar and ginger to make the Shōgayaki sauce.
- Dip each piece of pork in the ginger miso marinade and place them on a tray. Pour any remaining marinade on top of the pork. Let this marinate as you prepare the rest of dinner. Five minutes should be plenty of time, but you can let it marinate overnight if you want.
- To fry simply heat a frying pan over medium-high heat until hot (but not smoking hot). Lightly oil your pan (if you're using a lean piece of pork or other meat you may need a bit more oil) and add the marinated pork chops in a single layer.
- Brown on one side, flip and brown the other side. Because the sweet marinade will burn easily If the pork starts to burn before it's cooked through, turn down the heat.
Serve your Shōgayaki with steamed veggies, or shredded cabbage and rice.