Sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, a bit of sweetness, a bit of heat. Whenever you apply this combo of flavors to ….well pretty much anything, you are going to get something good.
In this case heat heat comes from a traditional Korean ingredient, and one that’s become very readily available, Gochujang sauce. Gochujang is a classic Korean hot paste, traditionally made with chili peppers, fermented soybeans, brown sugar glutinous rice, and salt (really, it’s so much better than that description would lead one to believe) that is winning new fans every day for its pungent heat.
It lasts for ages in the fridge. Just a little dab will do you, but I love it, and I’m adding it to everything these days.
Look for toasted sesame oil which has a darker color and a richer flavor. Sesame oil, once opened, should be kept in the fridge to prevent it from spoiling too quickly. A little bit is all you need to impart that toasty nutty taste to any Asian dish.
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If you have thinner pork chops, reduce the cooking time. You really want to make sure that they don’t overcook. Anyone who’s ever eaten an overcooked pork chop, which is most people who’ve ever eaten a pork chop, knows why.
There is one other thing that in good conscience I must mention. Whomever has to clean the pan may have a bit of scrubbing to do. It would be less work with a nonstick pan, but you get such a great crust with a cast iron or heavy metal pan, that I think it’s a sacrifice worth making. But I guess I should also mention that my husband usually does the dishes. So it’s not usually my personal sacrifice. But life is filled with comprise. I’ll see if this philosophical nugget flies while he is cleaning the pan.
Korean Pork Chops
- 4 1 ½-inch thick boneless pork chops 2 to 2 ½ pounds total
- ½ cup less-sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons Gochujang paste or Sriracha sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Hot cooked rice or mashed potatoes to serve
- In a medium size bowl combine the soy sauce, honey, garlic, sesame oil, ginger, and Sriracha sauce. Place the pork chops in a shallow dish or container and pour the marinade over the pork chops. Turn to coat well and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, and up to overnight.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet (such as cast iron) over medium-high heat. Remove the pork chops from the marinade, reserving the marinade, and place them in the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes until the bottom is browned with a nice crust, then turn the pork chops and cook for another 5 minutes, until the bottom is also nicely browned, but the chops are still a bit pink inside. Pour the remaining marinade into the pan and bring to a simmer, cooking until the chops are just cooked, with an internal temperature of 145°F.
- Serve the pork chops, whole or sliced, with the rice or mashed potatoes, spooning over a bit of the sauce from the pan.
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