Golden Ginger Pork

#RecipeUpTop (details below):

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 25 grams fresh turmeric
  • 25 grams fresh ginger
  • 1 cup soy sauce diluted with an additional 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 – 2lbs pork roast, butchered as preference (chops, cutlets, shaved, etc)

Method: Peel the garlic, ginger, and turmeric, and add to the carafe of a blender. Add the diluted soy sauce, brown sugar, and oil. Blend until smooth, then pour over pork in a leak proof container (like a zip-top bag) and allow to rest in refrigeration for two (2) to four (4) hours, with bigger cuts like thick chops requiring more time than thinner preparations. Drain and simmer over medium heat until barely cooked through. Remove pork, reduce any remaining liquid and adjust for seasoning, and finish pork over high heat for service. Serve on a sandwich with quick pickled cucumbers and carrots, or over rice with steamed veggies.

The Details

It’s a new school year here on the 10Chickens mountain, and that means a hectic flurry of activities, appointments, runny noses, and… scrambling to put dinner on the table. This preparation is killer for this time of year because it’s cheap, easy, can be made in huge batches, and is the foundation for a thousand different tasty meals.

As recipes go here on the blog, we try to keep things pretty simple, but this may be the easiest one yet: blend the ingredients, soak the meat, cook it. But, in this simplicity hides a complex and restorative endgame that will make you wonder why it’s not a staple in every home kitchen.

So, let’s cook. Step one: peel your aromatics

From left to right, we have fresh turmeric, garlic (from our own garden!), and fresh ginger. How much? Well, that’s a bit of the magic. I like to grab my two cloves of garlic and weigh them (these came out to about 25 grams), then try and match that weight with each of the turmeric and ginger. It doesn’t have to be exact, but you want it pretty close.

Step two: add our soy and water, oil, and sugar, and blend it up.

You can do this in the carafe of a blender if you’d like, or if you’re making a huge batch (which we tend to do), but typically I just use my stick blender right in this big measuring cup because I’m a lazy clod and don’t like doing extra dishes.

A couple of notes here. First, there’s no acid in this which may seem odd for a marinade, but there’s a good reason. It’s not really a marinade, but more of a high-speed brine. Acid at this point would give the meat a rubbery texture (think “pork ceviche”) and that’s not what we want. Plus, we use this pork for everything from tacos to sandwiches to salads, and there are plenty of opportunities to add fresh lime juice or zingy dressing or whatever else at the end. We’re making bricks here, not the cathedral.

Secondly, we’re not adding any heat for the same reason. This stuff is a magnet for your favorite condiments, specifically great hot sauces.

Lastly, to my shame I have omitted one ingredient from the list above because, well, it’s optional and may scare off some would-be pork explorers: miso paste. I know it’s not hyper-exotic or anything, and more home cooks are keeping it on-hand, but, well, don’t you deserve this little extra secret for reading all this? Anyway, I go with about a tablespoon of it in the blend which boosts the umami succulence into the redzone.

Step three: consider your meat, and get it soaking.

So, long-time readers will remember how much I abhor gimmicky kitchen gadgets, particularly those which try to emulate a high-quality industrial counterpart, and this damn thing falls squarely into that category. But, it was on clearance for $50.00 and I’m a weak man. Look, it’s an exposed, high-speed spinning metal blade that plugs into your wall. How could I *not* buy it? But I digress.

The point is this brine/marinade/ambrosia works great on big thick chops, thinner cutlets, or shaved-down morsels, but each will need a slightly different treatment. Ultimately, the soak should be at least two (2) hours, and up to four (4), HOWEVER, the thinnest cuts will be too salty after the four (4) hour mark. Conversely, chonker chops will need the full time, and really can go longer. It’s just something to think about.

Also, why pork loin? Well, at the moment meat prices at the market are… unpredictable. That said, pork loin might be the best value going, and seems to still be in plentiful supply. A full loin may be less than $20.00, which would produce something like 40 chops. They’re boneless by nature, and relatively lean, which means the yield is enormous (as opposed to say, a bone-in leg of lamb that has a lot of extra fat and, well, a big bad bone in the middle of it). Plus, it’s really delicious.

As for us? Well, you saw the machine. We’re going thin:

Yeah. Like that. Then, everyone into leak-proof containment. I like a zip-top bag inside a cambro:

On goes the goodness, and give it a good massage:

If you’re doing a big batch, which we almost always are, split it up into batches so everything has some room to swim, so to speak. Then, into the fridge for the time you figured out earlier.

This whole situation may look familiar, and it should because it’s very close to our beef jerky method. But…we’ll talk more about that in a minute.

Step four: cook it off and adjust for seasoning.

This is the last real quirk to this recipe. You’ve probably heard ad-nauseum that you shouldn’t “crowd the pan” for any number of reasons, and usually that’s a good plan. But not today. CROWD THAT PAN LIKE WOODSTOCK ’99. Why? What is this madness?

Well, we’re going for a gentle simmer. We’re not “par cooking” exactly, because this will be fully cooked, but it’s designed to be re-heated or fired a second time before serving (we’ll get there). A lot of the liquid will cling to the pork even after draining the marinade/brine, and the meat will release its own juices as well to add to the party. This way, everything gets gently cooked while having time to release, then re-absorb some goodness. Just trust me on this.

Here we are rocking and rolling in ol’ faithful. By the way, at this point your face will fly off your body at how incredible this smells. It will fill your whole house with herby, aromatic, gingery magic like some sort of hermit apothecary. Just fair warning.

Once the meat is cooked through, remove to a bowl and pump the heat to reduce down the remaining liquid, and taste it for seasoning. It may need a little more salt, or not. By the way, it should taste pretty potent. This isn’t a soup; you’re only getting a thin coating on the outside of the pork.

Once your sauce is ready, add the meat back in, toss, and kill the heat. Let it sit until cool enough for storage, and that’s it.

Technically speaking, that’s the end of the recipe, but in practical matters it’s only the beginning. How to use this? Well, get a skillet good n hot, add a teaspoon or so of veg or canola oil, and a portion of the meat. Sear it hot, get some color on it, and add to a sandwich with garlic-lime aioli. Or, like we did tonight, toss in some steamed veggies and serve over rice with some fresh cilantro, lime, and a healthy dose of knock-off sriracha. Or add some crunchy kimchee and a little dose of crema to a tortilla for a berserk taco. Seriously, once you taste it for the first time it’s hard to stop saying “you know what this would be great in?” It really is that special.

So, get some cheap pork, soak it, simmer it, and have a fridge full of flash-bang dishes ready to go.

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