Featured in the popular Japanese drama “Kodoku no Gurume,” this Pan-Fried Ginger Pork Belly is cooked in a savory soy sauce base with a hint of sweetness and a touch of spicy ginger. It’s a quick meal that you can prepare in less than 20 minutes.
After requests from many JOC readers, I started to share recipes featured in the popular Japanese TV drama – Kodoku no Gurume (孤独のグルメ). The main character Gorō is a Japanese salaryman who is in sales. As a salesman, Gorō travels across Japan, visiting restaurants and street booths to sample the local cuisine. Each chapter features a different place and dish.
This TV drama has been around for years in Japan, and currently, Season 7 is on air. Unfortunately, it is not available on Netflix like Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories here in the States, but it’s available on Netflix Japan and other sources.
Whether you have access to the show or not, I want to share all the delicious foods the main character Goro-san enjoyed in the show and I hope you’d join me in cooking up the dishes wherever you are. Today we’re making Pan-Fried Ginger Pork Belly (豚バラ生姜焼き) from Season 6, Episode 2.
Pan-Fried Ginger Pork Belly Recipe from Kodoku no Gurume
The show shares a quick glance at how the dish is made, so I give my best attempt to cook the dish in the same way from the few seconds of the scene. It’s different from how I normally cook my Ginger Pork (Shogayaki), but I would like you to know that there are many ways to make this popular home-cooked dish.
This particular Ginger Pork – or Shogayaki (生姜焼き) in Japanese – uses pork belly slices. My recipe uses thinly sliced tender pork loin which has more meat and less fat. The pork belly slices have more fat, but they are juicier, tastier, and more fulfilling (especially for those who enjoy heavier food). And this ginger pork uses more sauce too. More sauce means ‘bring on your appetite!’. Even the drama character requested a (complimentary) second bowl of steamed rice to enjoy the delicious sauce.
Pan Fried Ginger Pork Belly “Set (Meal)” or “Teishoku”
In Japan, the lunch menu typically comes in a “set (meal)” called Teishoku (定食). The set usually comes with a main dish of your choice, along with steamed rice, miso soup, some pickles, and 1-2 side dishes (you get to pick sometimes). The “set meal” menu is based on the Japanese “One Soup Three Dishes” or “Ichiju-Sansai (一汁三菜)” concept when serving a meal, and you can read more details about it in this post.
In the show, he ordered “Pan-Fried Ginger Pork Belly Set (Meal)” and the set comes with:
- Steamed rice
- Asari miso soup (Clam Miso Soup)
- Simmered Bamboo Shoots
- Pickled Tomatoes with minced onion (Recipe coming soon)
- Pickled Cucumber and pickled napa cabbage
- Mentaiko with grated daikon
- Natto with chopped green onion
As you can see, the menu covers carbohydrates, protein, vegetables, pickles, fermented food, and a considerable amount of Omega-3-rich seafood. No doubt a highly nutritious and wholesome meal, it is also a representation of how much thought that goes into a typical Japanese meal.
In case you’re wondering how we can cook up so many dishes for one lunch, the strategy is advance planning. Most of the side dishes can be prepared ahead and last for the entire week. For those of you who are interested in making Japanese home-cooked meals more often, I hope this set menu gives you some inspiration.
JOC Kodoku no Gurume Recipes Series
Pan-Fried Ginger Pork Belly
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Make the sauce. In a bowl or a liquid measuring cup, combine 3 Tbsp sake, 3 Tbsp mirin, 2 tsp sugar, and 2 Tbsp soy sauce. Mix well. You can save the sauce for up to a week.
- Cut off the core of the cabbage and shred the cabbage into thin slices. I like using this cabbage slicer that yields super fine shredded cabbage.
- Cut the negi (green onion/leeks) as much as you like to use. Here I use about 2-3 Tbsp of chopped negi for one serving. Grate the ginger until you have about 1 tsp for one serving.
- I'm cooking one serving at a time. Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium-high heat and place the pork belly slices without too much overlapping. It’s okay if it does a little bit. Once the oil starts to release from the pork, add in the sauce. Note: If you’re using a stainless steel frying pan or cast iron skillet, I recommend applying a little bit of oil first. The oil from the pork belly should be enough to cook the meat without sticking to the pan.
- Then add the grated ginger and chopped negi.
- Mix the ginger and negi in the sauce. Flip the meat once in a while to cook thoroughly.
- Place shredded cabbage on a serving plate and transfer the ginger pork belly and sauce. Serve immediately.