If you’re anything like me, you don’t have a lot of time to cook. During the week, I want to go from hungry to full as quickly as possible. I also don’t want to spend a lot of money. Splurging on a meal is great sometimes, but it’s all going to eventually end up in my stomach.
Ginger pork, or buta no shogayaki, hits all the right marks. Made with affordable and standard ingredients, it costs just under ¥1,000, and you can cook it in ten minutes. Plus, it’s delicious. What’s not to love?
The word shoga means ginger in Japanese, while yaki means grilled or fried. Although any meat can be used for shogayaki, it universally refers to ginger pork in Japan. A staple in Japanese restaurants and bentos alike, it’s the country’s second most popular pork dish after tonkatsu.
Shogayaki is also versatile. Don’t like pork? Use chicken or beef. Do you want it sweet and savory? Add sugar. Want a bit of umami kick? Add a bit of straight sake. Are you vegan? Substitute pork for tofu, eggplant, or boiled konjac.
This is the recipe my girlfriend, who is Japanese taught me, but it’s pretty standard in Japan. It’s intended to feed four people, but I find it’s just enough for myself and her because I eat like a blackhole. However, for my attempt, I’ll add a bit of sugar for more sweetness.
- Thinly sliced pork shoulder loin, or buta rousu in Japanese (300g)
- 1 onion
- Cooking oil (1–2 tbsp)
- Shredded cabbage
- Cooked rice
- Tomatoes (optional)
For the sauce
- Grated ginger (1 tbsp)
- Sugar (1 tbsp)
- Soy sauce (4 tbsp)
- Sweet sake, or mirin in Japanese (3 tbsp)
- Begin by combining your grated ginger, sugar, soy sauce, and sweet sake in a large bowl and mix well. You may either set the sauce aside or use it to marinate your sliced pork. I prefer the latter.
- In a large frying pan, add the cooking oil and set to medium heat. Chop one (or half) an onion into thin slices and throw it in the frying pan. The onions will need to cook a little bit before the meat. You can add a little salt, pepper, and butter to the onions to caramelize them.
- Once the onions soften, add the sliced pork into the frying pan and cook evenly. Spread spoonfuls of sauce over the onions and pork while they cook. Add as much or as little as you like. The sauce will soften as it cooks.
- Once the pork is cooked evenly on both sides, pair it with your rice and vegetables. Shredded cabbage with a bit of Japanese mayonnaise and tomato is a staple combination with shogayaki.
So, how did it come out?
Delicious as always. Honestly, I’d have to be pretty inept to screw this up, even with my girlfriend looking over my shoulder and judging my every move. There are rarely leftovers in our home, but if you ended up making too much, wrap it up and use it for lunch the next day.
If you like sweet and salty, definitely add the tablespoon of sugar to your sauce. You can also add a couple of grated or chopped garlic cloves for an extra layer of flavor. If you don’t have sake, I’m told people like to use ketchup as a substitute, but I find that ketchup tends to overpower everything it touches. Stick with mirin if you’ve got it.
If you’re feeling particularly lazy, you can skip making the sauce and go straight for a bottle of Ebara’s Shogayaki no Tare. It can be found in most supermarkets in Japan.
Hungry? Check out more of our Japanese Recipe Adventure series. Let us know what recipe you’d like to see us try next in the comments!