Buta no shoga yaki (豚の生姜焼き) means "ginger grill" in Japanese, and it's a home cooking staple in Japan that's usually made with pork (though it can be made with chicken as well). Marinating the pork with sake and grated ginger imparts the zesty zing of ginger while naturally tenderizing the meat. The result is an easy weeknight recipe that's tender, juicy, and flavorful, making this ginger pork a satisfying Japanese dish that is perfect for any occasion.
Table of contents
Why This Recipe Works?
- Ginger contains proteolytic enzymes such as zingibain, which breaks down protein. This naturally tenderized these Japanese pork chops.
- By dividing up the ginger sauce, you're able to marinate the meat in the ginger (to get it tender) without adding other ingredients that will burn as you cook the pork.
- Shogayaki is traditionally made with thinly sliced meat (like the stuff used for hot pot), but using pork chops yields more juicy and tender meat and doesn't take much longer to prepare.
- Applying a thin layer of potato starch to the pork chops helps the savory glaze cling to the meat, giving them a gloriously shiny appearance while ensuring they're well seasoned.
- Pork - Shogayaki is traditionally made with thinly sliced pork so that it marinates and cooks through quickly, but making it with pork chops is more satisfying, and it only takes a few additional minutes to cook. I don't recommend using pork loin because it's so lean it will tend to dry out. I used a ¾-inch thick boneless rib chop, but other thick cuts of pork will work; you'll just need to adjust the cooking times to account for any differences in thickness. Thicker chops will take longer and should be fried over lower heat to prevent burning. Thinner chops will cook faster, so you'll want to increase the heat to get them to brown more quickly. Another option is to use a totally different kind of meat such as chicken or beef.
- Ginger - Ginger gives Shogayaki its trademark flavor and contains enzymes that help tenderize the meat by breaking down the connective tissue. I use a generous amount of grated ginger to marinate the meat and then scrape off the excess pulp before frying it, but you can also grate the ginger and squeeze out the ginger juice.
- Potato starch - A thin coating of potato starch helps set the glaze on the exterior of the chops. I like using potato starch because it doesn't get as gummy as corn starch, but other starches will work in a pinch. You could also use wheat flour, but this prevent your glaze from getting as shiny.
- Sake - Sake is an alcoholic beverage made with rice, but it's also an essential ingredient in Japanese cuisine because it contains a high concentration of amino acids. These compounds are responsible for creating the taste of umami in your mouth. The alcohol burns off when you cook it, leaving just the flavor and umami in the sake. I generally don't like to use mirin because most mirin sold outside of Japan is not brewed (its just alcohol with corn syrup and flavorings), but if you want to use it, you can substitute half the sake and eliminate the honey.
- Soy sauce - Shogayaki can be seasoned with either miso or soy sauce. I've chosen soy sauce for this recipe to give the pork chops a glossy appearance, but you can substitute miso 1:1 if you'd like.
- Honey - Ginger pork is not supposed to be as sweet as a dish like chicken teriyaki, but it's important to add a little sugar to the sauce to balance out the saltiness of the soy sauce and the sharpness of the ginger.
- Garnish - I like to sprinkle on some chopped scallions, but Shogayaki is also delicious, sprinkled with some toasted sesame seeds, freshly cracked black pepper, or fresh ginger cut into thin strips.
How to Make Shogayaki (Ginger Pork Chops)
You first want to marinate the pork chops with ginger and salt by rubbing them into both sides of the meat. You'll want to let this marinate for at least an hour to let the enzymes do their thing and tenderize the meat, but you can also do this in the morning, so the ginger pork is ready to cook at dinnertime.
Add the sake, soy sauce, and honey to a bowl and whisk the ingredients together.
To make the Japanese ginger pork chops, pat them dry with paper towels and remove any large clumps of grated ginger (leaving a little is okay). Next, sprinkle the potato starch over the marinated pork and pat the chops against each other to give them a thin, even coating.
Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the oil and pork. Pan-fry on one side until it starts to brown. This should take about two to three minutes.
Flip the shogayaki over and brown the second side for another two minutes or so. Once the second side is browned, flip them back over and use a paper towel and tongs to remove as much excess oil from the pan as possible. This keeps the glaze from becoming cloudy or greasy.
Turn up the heat and add the sauce to the pan. Glaze the pork chops by flipping them over repeatedly in the sauce until it forms a thick, shiny coating on the outside. You can serve these whole with steak knives immediately. If you want to slice them up before plating, I recommend letting them rest for a few minutes to give the protein time to relax, so all the meat juices don't leak out. Garnish the shogayaki with chopped green onions.
Serve it With
Shogayaki is traditionally served with a shredded cabbage salad, Japanese Short-grain Rice, and Miso Soup. These Japanese pork chops also pair well with side dishes like Japanese Potato Salad or a fresh green salad with sesame dressing. Leftover ginger pork is a fantastic addition to bentos so you can save any leftovers to pack with rice and vegetables in a bento box for your lunch the next day.
- 400 grams pork rib chops (¾-inch thick)
- 30 grams ginger (peeled and grated)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sake
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon potato starch
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- scallions (chopped, for garnish)
- Rub the grated ginger and salt onto both sides of the pork chops. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to marinate.
- To make the sauce, combine the sake, soy sauce, and honey in a bowl.
- When you're ready to make your shogayaki, use paper towels to pat the pork chops dry and scrape off any large clumps of ginger.
- Dust both sides of the pork with a thin, even layer of starch.
- Preheat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil and pork chops and fry them until they've started to brown (~2 minutes).
- Flip the ginger pork over and fry the second side until golden brown (another 2 minutes).
- Flip the chops back over, and use a paper towel to wipe out as much excess oil from the pan as possible. Then, turn up the heat to high.
- Pour the sauce into the pan and glaze the ginger pork chops by flipping them over repeatedly in the boiling sauce until they're coated in a thick, shiny layer.
- Serve the shogayaki whole, or let it rest for a few minutes before slicing it up. Garnish with chopped scallion greens.
Kathy Stroup says
Holy heck, Marc. How does this recipe take an inexpensive cut of pork and turn it into a restaurant-quality entrée?!?! I made your earlier version and it was very good, but this method knocks that one off the page. And it's simple and easy to produce on a weeknight! The honey in the glaze is an inspired touch. We have a favorite restaurant that uses honey in their teriyaki, and this tastes the closest to that I've ever made. The potato starch helps keep the meat juicy, browns the outside, and thickens the glaze. GENIUS. Every time I see a pork loin on sale I'm making this. Jenna even agreed to eat it without ketchup!😮
Marc Matsumoto says
😄 Happy to hear you all enjoyed it so much and 🙌🏼 on getting Jenna to eat it without ketchup (it's a constant challenge in our household too).
Kathy Stroup says
Back at this one! We were seriously squabbling over the leftovers, so I'm making a huge batch! This was so good cold in the lunch box. It was juicy and flavorful reheated, too. I got to thinking what a good sando this would make. As long as it didn't sit too long and soak the bread. But the sauce is pretty thick, so it might not be a problem.
One thing that shocked me was how little juice ran out when it came out of the pan. Pretty much nothing came out! The meat was so juicy, so there's no mystery what happened. It just stayed in there. Maybe I'll have to try potato starch on steaks.🤔