It’s hard to believe, but apparently we’re already in back to school mode. And that means easy dinners that will bring everyone to the table. These Teriyaki Meatballs really fit the bill. A juicy and tender mixture of pork and beef with a yummy teriyaki read more
This Pork Stir Fry is the kind of simple dish that every Japanese home has a version of. Known in Japan as nira buta, the nira refers to garlic chives (also called Chinese chives), and the buta is the pork. This is a lightening fast recipe that works well with other dishes on the dinner table. It’s also something a parent might whip up after school to hold you over until dinner and it could even satisfy as an exceptional late night snack. Quick, easy, and delicious. Let’s get started!
Like many stir-fries, there is room for experimentation. Sometimes the chives are stir fried with bean sprouts or chicken and sometimes the egg is omitted. When meat is used, like I am here, it’s in a typically Asian way. The meat is more of a flavoring than the star of the show. The 8 ounces of pork here serves 4 as an appetizer, which is a far cry from the standard Western practice 0f 6-8 ounces of meat per person. So this is a pretty economical and healthy dish as well.
Garlic chives are a totally different animal than the chives you are probably already familiar and should not be confused with the fine delicate French chives in the herb section of the grocery store. Those chives will not work in this stir fry. There are two main types of garlic chives you will find available here in the States. You can find both of them at an Asian grocery store in the produce section. The first type is flat and looks like a blade of grass. It is soft and tender, and used in Korean dishes like kimchi, in Chinese potstickers, and in Japanese stir fries. You can use that garlic chive here, but it cooks in seconds so you’ll want to cook it for less time. But the type of chive we’re using today is the flowering type. It has a more sturdy look with a thicker stem capped with a bud. The buds are typically closed tightly. When purchasing garlic chives, look for a bunch that is green and fresh. Avoid any that are slimy, a faded color, or dried out.
Stir Fry Basics
Since stir fries come together so quickly, it’s important to have everything prepped and within reach before you start cooking. Otherwise you run the risk of your pork burning while you dash around the kitchen frantically trying to find the sesame oil. So prep the chives, cut the meat, scramble the eggs, and lay it all out with the sauce ingredients by your stovetop.
Just a note, the ends of the flowering garlic chives are very fibrous. I always take a generous 1 1/2 inches off of the bottom so that the I don’t end up with a mouthful of tough bits. And the buds are completely edible so there’s no need to cut them off. However, if you’re using regular garlic chives, which are more tender, a little trim off the bottom will do it.
Heat the pan for several minutes before adding the oil. You want that pan very very hot. Then add the oil right before the other ingredients so it doesn’t smoke. The key to successful stir frying without a wok and incredibly high heat is to let the protein cook undisturbed with plenty of space before continuing with the stir fry. This technique gets a good sear on the meat and prevents liquid from pooling in the pan, which would interfere with your stir fry.
I like a softly cooked egg so I turn off the heat when I add it in. The residual heat in the pan will continue to cook the egg. What you end up with is similar to a carbonara where the egg turns into a thick sauce. Of course, you can cook the egg how you like; that’s the beauty of cooking for yourself! Next, transfer the stir fry to a plate and you’re all set.
You can serve this Pork Stir Fry with Java Rice to make it a complete meal. It’s also delicious served with:
Or you could just devour it to keep the hangries at bay, like we do in Japan. Try it this week and let me know what you think by rating and commenting on the recipe below, and don’t forget to tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!
- 8 ounces pork loin
- 2 Tablespoons neutral oil
- 1 bunch flowering garlic chives, about 11 ounces
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- Trim the bottom inch of the garlic chives and discard. Cut the chives into 2 inch pieces and set aside.
- Cut the pork in half lengthwise and then into thin strips. Set aside.
- Crack the eggs and lightly scramble with a fork. Set aside.
- Heat a large 12” skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil and tilt the skillet and swirl the pan to coat with oil. Add the pork, let it cook for 1 minute undisturbed and then stir fry for 1 minute.
- Add the garlic chives and continue cooking for 1 minute, stir frying to move the ingredients around the pan.
- Add the oyster sauce, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.
- Add the scrambled egg, stir, and turn the heat off the pan. Gently stir a couple times until the egg is cooked to your liking. I typically only cook it halfway through so it’s more like a thickened sauce.
- Transfer the pork stir fry to a plate and serve immediately.
Keywords: nira buta, stir fry, pork, garlic chives, chinese chives,
As a restaurant couple, my husband and I never dine out on Valentine’s Day. We’re too busy making sure everyone else has a romantic evening. But he loves pork, and I think this year I will make him Japan’s beloved Pork Shogayaki when we do get around to celebrating. It’s super easy, but feels really special, in part because it’s rare for a Japanese dish to feature a big piece of meat. We usually enjoy meat as more of a flavoring than a center of the plate ingredient. If meat is the focus of the dish, it’s most often sliced thin or cut up. Rarely do the words Japanese cuisine coincide with steaks or chops.
So these beautifully marbled chops are a rare treat. And the sauce will make you swoon. Shogayaki is a combination of the Japanese words for ginger and fry, and the method produces meat that is both juicy and bathed in a luscious gingery sauce. Don’t be alarmed by the large amount of ginger, it IS an aphrodisiac you know…
Ginger is a big part of shogayaki-it’s even in the name! And I use ginger 2 ways here. I grate it and cook it with the pork, and I also make some fine shreds of it to use as a garnish. Of course garnishes are completely optional, but I think it adds both visual and textural appeal, especially if you soak the shreds in ice water for a couple minutes first. The soaking makes them crisp but also tames some of the bite.
If you prefer a more subtle flavor, you can eliminate the ginger threads and garnish with some minced scallion instead.
Pork-The Other White Meat
Pork Shogayaki is most commonly prepared as a stir-fry where thin slices of pork are sautéed, often with onions, and the sauce is drizzled in at the end. It’s always served with hot rice and usually some kind of shredded cabbage salad. But that’s not the kind of pork we’re making today.
Pork can be a tricky thing to buy here in the US. Many years ago, probably because pork cuts weren’t selling well and were seen as less healthy, pork was rebranded as “the other white meat”. Do you guys remember this? It was during the fat free craze sweeping the country. Everything had to be fat free: snacks, baked goods, and apparently even meat. This campaign had us believing that the food we love would taste just as good and be healthier without the fat. WHAT?! The best part of eating meat just got stripped. And thus began the era of flavorless, tough, and bland pork.
Fortunately, you can now find pork the way it was supposed to be enjoyed: juicy, tender, and robust. My favorite is Berkshire pork, which is known for looking a little redder than conventional pork, having a sweeter flavor, and containing more intramuscular fat. If you’re lucky enough to have access to it, I highly recommend buying some. It’s so scrumptious, you’ll thank me!
Typically I buy thick bone-in rib chops, because my daughter Zoe loves to call dibs on the bones and then saves them until the end of the meal to savor. Because my first choice was in short supply, I was forced to change up my game plan. So instead, I bought what was labeled coppa steaks. What are coppa steaks? I didn’t know either. A quick search told me that they are a neck and shoulder cut. At first, I was a little worried that they might be a tougher cut, but I was totally wrong! Incredibly juicy, unbelievably succulent, and really tasty. Wow people, you need to try this coppa steak. I’m truly thankful to have stumbled on this cut and I’m never going back.
Of course, you can use whatever type of pork chop you prefer, even boneless country style ribs would be fine here too. Look for thicker chops with some marbling within the meat and not just a layer of fat on the outside.
Searing To Build Flavor
I begin cooking pork shogayaki by getting a nice sear on the pork chops. The searing will start to build up the layers of flavor. Without it, the sauce and meat will be less interesting and a little bland. Heat your pan for a few minutes to get it really hot before adding the oil. You want the meat to sizzle when it hits the pan. A cool pan will just cause the meat to steam, denying you the awesome flavor. Do not heat the oil with the pan as this will cause the oil to overheat and smoke, giving off a bitter taste.
You can serve this very simply with a traditional pile of shredded cabbage or maybe a green salad with Sesame Dressing for a not too filling Valentine’s or date night meal. It is also fabulous served with:
Your date will love Pork Shogayaki, and they don’t need to know it took only about 15 minutes to make! Let me know what you think, please take a moment to rate and review the recipe below. And show off your creation by tagging us @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!
- 4 medium thick boneless pork chops, about ¾ inch thick (approximately 2 pounds)
- 1 Tablespoon neutral oil
- 3” piece of ginger
- scallion (minced for garnish if not using the ginger threads)
- 4 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 Tablespoons mirin
- 4 Tablespoons sake
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
Make the sauce:
- Combine the soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar in a small bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set the sauce aside.
Make the Pork:
- Scrape the ginger with the back of a spoon (or knife) to remove the skin. Then grate half of it and set it aside. You need about 1 ½ Tablespoons of grated ginger (do not squeeze it out. A little ginger juice adds flavor).
- Make thin julienned shreds with the other half, by first slicing the ginger into paper thin slices. Next stack the slices and cut through them to make thin threads of ginger. Set aside.*
- Heat a large 12″ skillet over medium high heat for several minutes. Add the oil, swirl the pan to spread the oil, and then place the pork chops in the skillet.
- Sear the pork chops for 3 minutes and then flip the pork and sear the other side for another 2 minutes.
- Take the pork out of the skillet and set it on a plate.
- Add the minced ginger to the pan and stir for 10 seconds. Next add the sauce and stir to combine.
- Place the pork chops back in the pan with the juices, cover with a lid, and lower the heat to medium. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until the pork chops are cooked through. (You can cut into a chop to check or take a temperature read if your chop is thick enough-160 degrees).
- Transfer the pork to a serving plate.
- Reduce the sauce in the pan for 2-3 minutes on medium high heat until it has a syrupy consistency. Pour the sauce on top of the pork. Serve immediately, garnishing with the ginger threads.
* Soaking the ginger shreds in ice water for a few minutes will give them a nice crispness and tame some of the bite. Though it isn’t essential, the soaking allows you to put a generous amount on the finished dish, giving you a polished look without an overwhelming ginger flavor.
*I prefer a medium cook on pork. If you like your pork well done, increase the cooking time in the sauce by a couple of minutes.
*If you are using thin slices of pork, decrease the cooking time in the sauce. And you will not need to cook it with the lid. Just sauté it in the sauce for a couple minutes after searing the pork for a minute on each side.
Keywords: shogayaki, japanese, pork