Friday, April 10, 2015

Japanese Ginger Pork (Shoga Yaki) and Aromatic Pork Salad

I've had Japanese food on my mind lately. Overdue for a date, my hubby and I are treating ourselves to a francophone film part of Toronto's annual Cinéfranco Festival with their opening flick Tokyo Fiancée... about a young French girl returning to her native Japan determined to be Japanese, a writer and falls in love. I can't wait!

My brother back from a decade long in Japan tells me his seven-year old son's favourite home-cooked meal is hands-down shoga yaki, a simple ginger pork dish served over steamed rice. A dish served over and over that never goes stale. Sounds easy and delicious to me, and of course I had to try my hands on making it for the family. Taking queues from my favourite Japanese cookbook author Harumi Kurihara, Japan's beloved culinary personality equivalent to Martha Stewart, here are recipes for Ginger Pork and a refreshing pork salad with aromatic herbs, crunchy peppers, shoots, sprouts and Korean pear.

Ginger Pork (Shoga Yaki)
Makes 4 servings

1-1/2 Tbsp. oil, divided
4 cups bean sprouts
salt and pepper
3/4 lb. pork, thinly sliced *NOTE: to make slicing easy, freeze pork for two hours before
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. mirin
1/2 to 1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger- to taste
1 clove garlic, minced

Freezing the pork for two hours makes slicing thinly easy!

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in skillet over medium-high heat, add the garlic, let sizzle for 15 second then add the bean sprouts and stir-fry for three minutes until crisp-tender. Season with salt and pepper, and remove onto serving plate.

A handy ginger plate with spikes to make grating ginger a cinch!

Mix together the soy sauce, mirin and grated ginger, and dip the pork into this marinade briefly, then place into skillet over medium-high heat with remaining 1/2 Tbsp. oil. Make sure it cooks evenly. Cook until both sides are brown about a couple minutes on both sides. Do not overcook.  

Make sure the pork cooks evenly and doesn't stick together or curl up.

Lay the pork slices on top of the bean sprouts. If there are any remaining juices from the skillet, pour that on top. Served with steamed Korean or Japanese rice, simple roasted broccoli and Aromatic Pork Salad- recipe follows.

Extremely easy and wonderfully tasty, your taste buds will be thanking you after! The culmination of flavours and textures will have you coming back for more! I just used what I had in my fridge with a few bought ingredients. You can't go wrong with any toppings!

Aromatic Pork Salad
Makes 4 servings

1 Tbsp. oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 lb. finely sliced pork (use freeze technique above to make slicing easier)
salt and pepper
bunch cilantro leaves
green onions, sliced
shiso leaves, thinly sliced into strips
red pepper, thinly sliced
alfalfa sprouts
pea shoots
Korean or Asian pear, sliced into thin sticks
1 Tbsp. finely sliced ginger (optional) 
toasted sesame seeds
splashes of lemon juice
1 Tbsp. soy sauce

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Cook garlic for 15 seconds, then add the pork. Stir-fry until cooked through about four minutes. Remove into serving vessel.

Cover generously with the vegetables, herbs and pear in layers or scattered over the pork. NOTE: You can have your kids help you with the assembly!

Give a few squeezes of lemon, drizzle over the soy sauce and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

We were wowed with all the crunchy toppings and flavourful pork... a stand-out ingredient in this colourful dish is the shiso leaves- citrusy, minty and hints of basil! So complementary!

Now let's eat.... Itadakimase!

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