Classic Japanese ginger pork (Shogayaki) recipe. Tender sliced pork loin in a sweet ginger sauce, Ginger Pork is one of my favorite homemade dishes. Ready in 20 minutes!
Ginger Pork, or what we call Shogayaki (生姜焼き), is a homey Japanese dish. I loved it when I was growing up and still enjoy it very much these days. When I miss home, I’d often cook this for our family dinner and for the kids’ bento lunches.
The tender, juicy pieces of pork coated in a sweet gingery sauce, and served over rice? Pure comfort food. Today I’ll show you how to make this popular mom-style food at home.
What is Ginger Pork
In Japan, this dish is called Shogayaki (生姜焼き). Shoga (生姜) means ginger and yaki means grill or fry. Here, thinly sliced pork is cooked with soy sauce, sake, and mirin along with ginger.
Each family makes their ginger pork slightly different so you’ll find some variations. Some cook it without onion, some make it without any sweetener (no mirin or sugar), some may include garlic, and some may use different cuts of the pork.
How to Cook Ginger Pork
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Thinly sliced pork – You can use other kinds of meat, but in Japan, Shogayaki always refers to a pork dish.
- Flour – This is a new trick I learned to make sure the pork is not dry. More about this later.
- Sake – Sake is always used to sprinkle on pork (or other meats) to remove any gamey smell and taste.
- Ginger – Prepare enough ginger as we’ll also be using the ginger juice.
- Ginger Sauce: soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar, and juice from the grated ginger.
Overview: Quick Steps
- Make the ginger sauce.
- Pan-fry the pork slices in batches and take them out to a plate.
- Saute the onion until translucent.
- Add the pork back into the pan and pour the sauce.
- Once the meat is well coated with the sauce, transfer to a serving plate. Enjoy!
3 Important Tips to Make Juicy Ginger Pork
The biggest challenge with cooking pork is the meat can get dry and tough easily. Over the years, I’ve learned a few tips that help the pork stay moist and tender.
1. Use good quality pork
The quality of the pork makes a huge difference, and I have to mention this first.
There are two types of thinly sliced pork cut in Japan that are used for ginger pork: the first one is pork loin or pork chop, and the other one is country-style pork ribs (this post explains the cut in detail).
It’s up to your preference, but the country-style pork ribs have nice fat in the middle so it yields juicy meat.
2. Use thinner (⅛ inch or 3 mm-thick) pork
You can get a conveniently sliced and packaged “Ginger Pork Cut” at Japanese grocery stores. This cut is pork loin (pork chop), not the country-style pork ribs.
Asian grocery stores may carry thinly sliced pork for hot pot. These “hot pot” pork slices are thinner than the one we use for ginger pork. I personally do not mind these thin pork slices but keep in mind that you can’t “sear” paper-thin pork slices. The sliced meat will shrink and curl up (which is ok!) but it will be more of a stir-frying style.
If you don’t live near a Japanese market or Asian market, you can easily slice your own meat (follow my tutorial). Make sure your slice is less than ⅛ inch (3 mm). Thick pork slices get chewy and tough.
3. Make slits
It’s very important to make several slits on the connective tissue (white area) between the meat and fat. Red meat and fat have different elasticities, and when they are cooked, they will shrink and expand at different rates. These slits will allow the pork slices to stay nice and flat when pan-frying and prevent them from curling up.
If you don’t make slits, the sliced pork tends to curl up and it takes a longer time to cook evenly while other parts get overcooked.
4. Dust the meat with flour
This is a new trick I learned from my good friend and I’m totally sold by the great outcome, so I’ve been using this method when I make ginger pork.
The role of the flour here is to prevent the pork from releasing the moisture/juice from inside the meat. Oftentimes, thinly sliced pork gets so dry because the moisture is released from the meat as it cooks. The thin layer of the flour also absorbs the delicious ginger sauce, which results in more juicy meat.
Please note: If your pork slices are paper-thin, which is less than ⅛ inch (3 mm) thickness, you do not need to dust with flour.
5. Don’t overcook
The rule of thumb for cooking pork is never to overcook it. When the pork is no longer pink, remove from the heat as soon as possible, and yes, even when it does not have a nice ideal sear yet. It’s more important to have tender meat than nicely seared meat.
Remember, the remaining heat will continue to cook while cooking the onion, and we will cook the pork again in the sauce; therefore, don’t worry if you think it’s slightly undercooked.
What to Serve with Ginger Pork
You will notice that ginger pork is usually served with thinly shredded cabbage. You can cut the cabbage into thin slices with a sharp knife, or you can use a cabbage slicer as I do. My mom recommended it years ago and I love it!
I love eating the shredded cabbage with extra ginger sauce from the ginger pork. You can serve it with salad dressing of your choice, such as Japanese Sesame Dressing.
More Delicious Pork Recipes on JOC:
- Asian Pork Chop
- Pan-Fried Ginger Pork Belly from Kodoku no Gurume
- Honey Garlic Pork Chops
- Miso Pork and Eggplant Stir-Fry
Tableware from Musubi Kiln
I’ve partnered with a great ceramic online shop from Japan called Musubi Kiln. You will get 10% off with a coupon code JUSTONECOOKBOOK for your purchase. In this post, I’ve used:
- Fuji Kutani Chopstick Rest Set
- Soukyu Kiln Plum Flower Kutani Sauce Plate
- Soukyu Kiln Treasure Bag Kutani Sauce Plate
- Atelier Yu Brilliant flower Kutani Rice Bowl
Ginger Pork (Shogayaki)
- 1 knob ginger (2", 5 cm)
- ½ onion
- ¾ lb thinly sliced pork loin (I use sliced pork for "ginger pork" from a Japanese grocery store; If you can't find paper-thin meat, slice the meat on your own. See the tutorial on how to cut meat paper-thin.)
- 1 Tbsp sake (for pork)
- 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour (plain flour) (for pork)
- 1-2 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc.) (for cooking)
- freshly ground black pepper (optional sprinkle at the end)
- Gather all the ingredients.
To Make the Ginger Sauce
- In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the ginger sauce.
- Scrape off the outer ginger skin with a knife (or spoon) and cut off any tough parts.
- Using a grater (I love this one!), grate the ginger, keeping the juice. Collect the grated ginger and squeeze the liquid. You will need 1 Tbsp ginger juice.
- Add ½ Tbsp ginger juice (keep the rest for later) and add grated ginger as much as you like. We like the gingery taste, so we add about 2-3 tsp.
- Next, grate the onion until you get 1 Tbsp of grated onion, including juice. Keep the rest of the onion for later.
- Add the grated onion to the ginger sauce and mix it all together.
To Prepare the Ingredients
- Cut the rest of the onion into thin slices.
- If your pork slice is more than ⅛ inches (3 mm), you should make several slits on the connective tissue (white area) between the meat and fat. Red meat and fat have different elasticities, and when they are cooked, they will shrink and expand at different rates. These slits will allow the pork slices to stay nice and flat when pan-frying and prevent them from curling up.
- Sprinkle the rest of ginger juice and 1 Tbsp sake.
- If your pork slices are paper-thin, which is less than ⅛ inch (3 mm) thickness, you do not need to dust with flour. When you're ready to cook the pork slices, lightly sprinkle with flour. It prevents the pork from drying up and keeps the moisture/juice inside the meat.
To Cook the Pork
- In a large frying pan, heat oil on medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, cook the pork slices in a single layer, turning them over once the bottom is golden brown. Cook in batches so the meat can be seared properly without steaming the meat.
- When the pork is no longer pink, transfer to a plate; make sure not to overcook the pork at this stage as we will continue to cook in a sauce later.
- Once the pork is done cooking, add oil (especially if your pan is not a non-stick) and onion.
- Saute the onion on medium heat until golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. When the onion is tender and translucent, add the pork back in.
- Mix the sauce one last time and pour over the pork. Bring the sauce to simmer and spoon the sauce over the pork for about 2 minutes.
- When the sauce is thickened, transfer to a serving plate.
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for a month.
Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on June 20, 2011. The images and blog content have been updated and a new video is added in September 2021.