Time to Prepare: 20 minutes
Cost: $$ (out of $$$$$)
Cleanup: Less than 5 minutes
While it can be used in a vast array of oriental dishes ranging from tonkatsu udon, to traditional ramen, all the way over to the protein base for northern Chinese congee, it also easily fits into American recipes as a hearty addition to an artisan sandwich or as a standalone pork chop meal.
Today, let's take a look at what goes into making it.
Cooking Utensils Needed:
For a less oriental and more "American" flavor profile, you could replace the michiu with salt water, replace the dashi with twice the amount of a rib rub seasoning, replace the sesame oil with extra virgin olive oil, remove the soy sauce, and replace the ponzu with lemon juice.
We'll start off by setting our liquid base in our skillet. Add the sesame oil, dashi, red chilis, soy sauce, and ponzu in.
At this point, depending on how big your skillet is, add just enough michiu to give you roughly 1/8 inch of liquid base altogether along the bottom. Top things off by adding in 1/4 tsp. of your ground ginger, and use your cooking brush to gently mix everything evenly.
How much heat we apply to our skillet depends entirely on the thickness of the pork we're using. Reference the below chart to help set a guideline if you're cooking a thickness you haven't successfully done before, in addition to keeping an eye on the skillet. (no "firing and forgetting" cooking today!)
Stove Heat - 4
Stove Heat - 5
Stove Heat - 6
Flip every 3/3/1 minutes.
Flip every 4.5/4.5/2 minutes.
Flip every 6/6/2.5 minutes.
Since I'm doing thick chunks today, I'm going to set my stovetop heat to '6' in preparation. While that's going, I've gone ahead and cut up my pork as noted.
Once you start to see a little bit of steam coming out of your skillet, it's time to add in the pork. Use your cooking brush to apply some of your liquid base onto the top of the meat to help the seasoning work its way in, and also to help prevent the meat from drying out at all. Upon completing that step, use the remaining 1/4 tsp. of your ground ginger sprinkled over the tops of your pork pieces.
Let things cook for the necessary interval on the first side. Since I'm using some thicker chunks here, I'll let them simmer for just under 6 minutes on this side before I flip them over to the other side.
Something to note - if you have your skillet set to a higher heat as I have, by the time you're ready to make the first flip, there's a good chance you'll need to add a little bit more michiu because the existing michiu will be mostly evaporated. You can tell that you need to add more michiu if the liquid base in your skillet starts to lose its translucency and thickens up substantially. (or, the old visual inspection test of "Hey, wasn't there more liquid in here before?")
Add just enough michiu back in to restore your base to the state it was in at the beginning, making sure to add at various spots in the skillet to make sure things are mixing as evenly as you can get them.
By the time you've completed the second flip, you'll have between 1-2.5 minutes left of cook time. You're on the home stretch! Again, if you're cooking at a higher heat level, don't forget to check if you need to add in a little bit more michiu here.
Another thing to check at this point is if your soy sauce and ponzu has started to texturize a little bit up the side of the skillet. Soy sauce has a tendency to do this due to the nature of soy proteins once they get heated and dehydrated. If you see this happening, use your cooking brush to break apart the solidifying soy sauce and brush the residue from it back down into the liquid base in your pan.
By the time you're finished checking for that, your pork should be done. To be safe, pull the smallest piece of meat out of the pan and briefly cut into it to check for undercooked spots in the center. Seeing a little pink here is OK, as long as it's not an overwhelming amount of pink - in which case, it will likely need another 5 minutes or so in the skillet.
Of course, what recipe would be complete without seeing the end result?
Today, I'll be using the pork for some small meat skewers, along with some basil chicken chunks I slow-cooked over the weekend. I've put a few salad greens in the bottom of my bento box to enhance the visual aspect a little bit, along with some blueberries, chick peas, and goat cheese.
Looks pretty tasty! In addition, I can also attest that my kitchen smells gosh-darn amazing right now.
Comments? Variations you've made on this recipe that worked out well? Drop me a note - I'd love to hear about them.