Butaniku no Shogayaki (Japanese Ginger Pork)
Butaniku no Shogayaki, or Japanese ginger pork, is a well-known Japanese classic that goes excellently with rice. It is a hearty, sweet, and sour stir-fried dish. When I was younger, I adored it, and I still adore it greatly today. I frequently make this for our family supper and the kids’ bento lunches when I’m homesick.
There are some variances because each family prepares their ginger pork slightly differently.
The appeal of thinly sliced pork, briefly marinated in soy sauce, mirin, sake, and ginger, then quickly stir-fried with more ginger than needed, should be apparent to the majority of people who eat pork, though. It is salty, savory, and slightly sweet, both from the sugars in the mirin and sake and from the inherent sweetness of the pork.
Important Tips to Make Juicy Ginger Pork
Use thinner slices: For this recipe, you need thinly sliced pork. You can get it at Japanese stores for Yakiniku (the Japanese version of barbecue). My friend told me about “H-mart”, it is a nationwide store that sells thinly sliced pork. You can also check Asian grocery stores that sell items for hot pot.
The meat need not be thinly chopped to make pork ginger. It’s only that it tastes better when made with tougher pieces of pork, like the shoulder and belly, which both contain a good combination of fat, muscle, and tough connective tissue that may give them the appearance of juiciness and tenderness even after being thoroughly cooked. However, some connective tissue can also make them tough, unless you purchase the chops in very thin slices, which breaks up the connective tissue and guarantees that it will become tasty and easy to eat after only a little spell in a hot pan.
There were times when I could not get thinly sliced shoulders or bellies and I had to make do with slices of leaner pork tenderloin or loin. The end product is still delicious, but it lacks the kind of textural complexity found in a cross-section of a shoulder or belly, which has a nice band of fat that alternately alternates between being chewy and meltingly ephemeral, a fair amount of tender meat, and a little bit of tougher, collagen-rich connective tissue that can range from being toothsome to being gelatinously soft.
Keep it simple:
The marinade’s ingredient ratios are mostly determined by taste.
Nevertheless, I’ve concluded that adding grated garlic to the marinade is unnecessary (even though it is quite tasty), and I’ve discovered that in the final mix, I like to include julienned bits of ginger that have been softened a bit by a little heat. I’ve also added scallions as an entirely unnecessary but welcome bit of greenery (and onion-y flavour).
I decided to concentrate on the pork, making identical batches of the recipe with thinly sliced pork belly, loin, and shoulder and comparing them to variations made with thinly sliced pork tenderloin and a batch of pork ginger made with large slabs of pork belly. Choosing the right cut
While different cuts may require slightly different cooking times (the tougher, thicker belly needs to fry for longer to cook through and become reasonably tender, whereas the leaner tenderloin needs to cook very quickly and is a little more uninteresting unless you brown it deeply), they all result in eminently edible sweet-salty meat dishes that go great with rice. The thinner slices created a dryer stir-fry, but the fattier cuts produced more “sauce,” which was simply the expelled fluids combined with the marinade and any rendered fat.
Differences exist even in the world of thinly cut meats. In my experiments, meats that were sliced thinner (approximately 1 mm thick) resulted in jigglier chunks of cooked flesh than meats that were sliced thicker. Because of the harder bands of chewy and salty fat in the version I preferred, which was cooked using around 1/8-inch-thick (3mm) sliced pork shoulder, the tasters of some of these experiments appeared to prefer a comparable thickness of pork loin slices. Therefore, even though I advise locating and utilizing pork shoulder that has been finely sliced, you may use any kind of pork.
- Fresh ginger, one piece peeled and grated, one piece peeled and julienned, divided
- 15ml soy sauce
- 15ml mirin
- ½ tablespoon sake
- 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 227g pork butt, thinly sliced (about 1/8-inch thick)
- 15ml neutral oil, such as canola, divided
- 1 scallion, sliced thinly
- Cooked short-grain rice, for serving
- Mix the grated ginger, soy sauce, mirin, sake, and white pepper in a medium mixing bowl. Toss in the thinly sliced pork, coating each piece. Allow to marinate for no more than 30 minutes, but no less than 15 minutes.
- 1 tablespoon of oil should be heated over high heat in a wok or a 10-inch cast iron pan until it just begins to smoke. Add half the marinated pork, arranging it in a single, even layer, and cook for 1 minute without stirring. With a wok spatula or tongs, toss and swirl the pork, cooking it for another 1 minute or so, until it is almost done. Repeat with the remaining oil and pork once you’ve transferred the meat to a platter. Juices from the initial batch of pork should be added back to the pan.
- Julienned ginger should be added and cooked for about 30 seconds, swirling and tossing frequently. After removing from heat, mix and toss in the scallions. Serve right away with rice.