Monday, January 19, 2009

Shogayaki with sunomono

I just lost some of you, didn't I. It's just gingery pork chops and cucumber salad, nothing weird. I have noticed that I get a lot more comments on classic diner favorites and American comfort food than on the Asian food I make, but I'm hoping some of you will come around on that. There's a whole world out there, people.

Some of my friends, blog and real-life, are still mystified by Asian cooking. I was once, too, but started small: Thai curries (with store-bought curry paste, added to coconut milk). Hippie stir-fries flavored only with hoisin sauce and garlic. Pad thai made with ketchup and peanut butter. I eventually picked up Asia: the Beautiful Cookbook and made a real massuman curry from scratch, and it was all downhill from there.

Japanese food is so simple and clean, there's no good reason for you to not be making it yourself, and from scratch. "But I don't have your pantry," some of you are whining. Well, quit yer bellyachin'. All you need to make shogayaki are three ingredients (besides pork): shoyu (soy sauce - I used tamari), mirin (sweet rice wine) and grated ginger. I added a pinch of sugar to hit that sweet spot without being too boozy, but that's optional. Marinate for 15 minutes, then grill.


Sunomono is just any little vegetable dressed in vinegar, salt and sugar, and differs from tsukemono (pickles) only in that it's eaten soon, while it's fresh (not fermented or pressed). The ingredients for mine are all basic: a cucumber, the same mirin (I use Koku Mori, a Taiwanese brand that is pretty good), rice vinegar (an aged version that is malted, also Koku Mori), salt and sesame seeds. Again, you can add a pinch of sugar to sweeten it up a skosh.

Serve with steamed rice and a premium hot sake such as Momokawa Diamond, whose subtly cucurbitaceous, canteloupe sweetness and nectary mouthfeel complement the sunomono.

38 comments:

Vicki said...

I'm going to make sunomono and drink sake just because you used the word cucurbitaceous.

Elra said...

Heather, I have that book too. I'll look in to it. Sounds delicious.
Cheers,
Elra

Peter G said...

Darling I love all your recipes! This is dead easy and a good way to get into Japanese cooking.

dp said...

I'm also mystified that people don't make more Asian food at home.

I've been craving Japanese food lately. I think I need to do something about that.

Browners said...

This sounds so easy and you've made it looks so attractive. I'm hooked. Am going to give this a bash.

Peter M said...

I'm still here...diggin' PDX food cum' Nippon!

Foodycat said...

My problem is that my pork chops nearly always turn out wooden. I need practice on getting them cooked but succulent. And that sort of cucumber salad is my favourite thing with sweet sticky porky things - so cleansing!

Brittany said...

I could totally make this, I just would never know to call it shogayaki with sunomono.

Looks fucking delicious.
nom nom nommy.

Stacy said...

I love your Asian recipes, although I'll admit to being one of those who thinks it's harder than it looks. I blame that on my Asian cookbook which has incredibly complicated multi-step recipes.

I've been mentally stocking the pantry at home (I've officially had all of the pie and mash that I can handle for a while). When we get back, I propose a field trip to the Asian market of your choosing, if you don't mind helping me pick out the basics. I'm ready for something easy and fresh.

MrOrph said...

That looks like an excellent dish Heather.

I have only recently started getting into Asian inspired cooking at home as well. My thing is, if you enjoy eating it, why not make it?

Lydia said...

Sounds great! We've even got the pork...no cukes until July, though!

I wonder, what have you used to top the rice in the last photo? My sister makes a seasoning that we learned (among many other things) from my Thai step-mother that is basically dried red chiles, dried tofu sheets (or dried shrimp), shallots, sesame, soy sauce and sugar all stir-fried together. We don't know the name of it so we usually just consider it her eponymous spice mix!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

It looks like I'll have to try Asia The Beautiful Cookbook, as I'm one of those whose Asian cooking has always sucked.

I read your and Peter (Cookblog) blogs and I just get... awe-struck.

maggie said...

Nice pictures!!!
Thanks for the cookbook rec, sounds like a good place to start.

Heather said...

mmmm. that looks so good. i adore mirin. i put it on pretty much every vegetable! i'd definitely going to try this, because i have everything in my pantry. i'm gonna check out that cookbook, too. i'm not a big curry person, but my husband is.

Heather said...

Vicki - There's just something about a cucurbit, isn't there?

Elra - It's got some complicated recipes, but some really good foundations.

Petah - I love all of your recipes, too, sweets.

Darlene - We usually do go out when we want really good Japanese food (like sukiyaki), but this simple stuff is so nice at home.

Jonathan - It IS so easy! You should give it a whack.

El Greco - A little fistbump out to you, homie.

Alicia - These ones were thinner than I'd normally slice myself (when I buy a whole loin), so I just gave them five minutes on high, flip only after a good crust is formed, then when it hits the other side just turn it off. These were nice and juicy.

Brittany - I didn't either, I just didn't want to make tonkatsu so I hunted around a little and found out that this had a name.

Stacy - I would be tickled pink to take you to my favorite Asian groceries! I could see getting burnt out on Brit food.

Don - My sentiments exactly.

Lydia - That stuff is called furikake ("rice seasoning"), and it comes in different flavors if you buy it. I usually keep it simple, but I'm always tempted to try the salmon or egg furikake.

Jen - You can score a copy of AtBC for <$10 on Amazon. (Peter is very talented, it's true. Shh, don't tell him.)

Mags - It's just a good place to start. It has gorgeous photos and a variety of cuisines.

Heather - I really hope you give it a go, and let us know how it went. :)

Bellini Valli said...

I always head on over here for all of your recipes..even the one with the bacon on top of the donut. I love your twist on these favourites with added flavour and creativity...or is that your twisted mind..wink.

lisaiscooking said...

I'm trying to gain some competency in cooking various Asian dishes. Or, I hope to start sucking slightly less at it. Baby steps.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

*sighs*

Y'know, I was liking the meatloaf just fine.

And then you go and mess it all up again. ;-)

Manggy said...

Yes, there IS a whole world out there ;) I have just begun to realize the pitfalls of grilling in the States in this time, though, that I wasn't able to get when I was in sunny Manila. I could sure use some clean, simple flavors right now-- packaged foods are weighing down on me!

Brooke said...

I am one of those readers that never comments on the asian stuff because it scares me. I love asian food (especially thai and japanese), and I make the easy lame Americanized stuff, but I saw a recipe once that called for all sorts of weird shit that I can't get easily so I gave up. I'm such a quitter.

But you have swayed me, woman. I will give it another go.

Christine said...

I actually really like the Asian inspired recipes. In fact, totally stole inspiration from your Kare Udon yesterday and added some S&B Golden to my chicken (chinese) noodle soup. Not as good as udon, but still pretty darned tasty.

This looks great and reminds me that I have porkchops that I've been meaning to grill up (but Vietnamese style w/ the caramel sauce, wish me luck.)

Lo said...

How DARE you post obscure things that challenge my vocabulary:)

SRSLY. I TOTALLY love that you cook Japanese food. I'm not familiar enough with Asian ingredients to really consider myself more than intermediate on a knowledge scale, but I love the education.

Plus, this looks delish. Keep 'em coming.

Lunch Buckets said...

I love sunomono but can only order it at places with numbered menus. Why? Cause I can't pronounce it. It just won't come out of my mouth. I know, I'm a freak.

Elmy said...

Heather, I love your Asian recipes! They make me wish I had a kitchen. On that note, can you recommend any good (cheap) places to eat in Portland for college students? Your blog is great, thanks for writing!

Zen Chef said...

I love it! Me love when you cook Japanesy and teach me some Japanesy vocabulary at the same time. And i love the clean Japanese flavors as well. Can you tell i'm in a loving mood tonight? :-)

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

Looks great Heather! While soy sauce is the usual thing for shyogayaki, I make mine with miso (must be a regional thing). Also for sunomono, you can get the cucumbers more crunchy if you salt them for about 15-20 minutes then squeeze out the extra moisture. For extra flavor you can add dashi.

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

Oh, and I LOVE the plate, it looks like a small snowboard:-)

Heather said...

Val - It's definitely my twisted mind.

Lisa - It's all about perspective. Sucking less is always a good start.

Sketti - Don't worry, I see a simple soup in your future.

Mark - I wish you were closer! I'd cook you something nice. We're not all packaged food here, I swear!

Brooke - You just gotta love going to the Asian grocery, and make it a fun field trip. And buy something that you don't recognize, even just once.

Christine - Good luck! Though I doubt you'll need it.

Lo - Learn by doing! It's how I do.

Lunch Buckets - That is really funny coming from someone who blogs about bento. btw, the commenting on your blog is messed up.

Elmy - I only really do SE, so I'm biased. Pretty much anywhere on 82nd between Stark and Powell is the spot for Chinese and Vietnamese, and Ichidai is my secret sauce for Japanese. Email me if you want more.

M. Zen - I can tell you're in some kind of mood. Buzzed, I'd guess.

Marc - Miso had occurred to me, and I still think it woulda been great. But I was trying to avoid making my usual misoyaki. :P (The dishes are from Ikea, and include a little chawanmushi set.)

peter said...

You've given me a whole new appreciation for all things cucurbitaceous.

we are never full said...

you're so right about asian food - it does scare some people. some asian food doesn't scare me to eat, but to make at home, it kinda does. not sure why? maybe it's so easy and cheap to get made for me in my neighborhood? but, in 2009, i have promised myself that i will delve into try to cook some myself.

maybe that book is a good start?

Finspot said...

Scrumptious. Do you rec "Asia: The Beautiful" as a good place to start?

glamah16 said...

I have always loved how you present Asian styled food. The posts are always guaranteed to be intersting. Great dish as always.

Tokyoastrogirl said...

I love this kind of food and you're right- I think people think it's complicated when they probably have all of the ingredients to make it right in their pantry. In my experience, MOST Japanese dishes are flavored with some combination of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, mirin or sake, sesame oil, sugar and rice vinegar. All of those things are readily available at any major grocery store these days too, which is awesome, and it's a WORLD better than the bottled teriyaki-type sauces out there which are usually too sweet and too gloopy.

cook eat FRET said...

gawgess - and i KNOW you were talkin bout me there, girlie. i am a bad offender. but i learn from you. i do i do...

as for the saki description - you are totally hanging out with peter too much...

Caviar and Codfish said...

Pad Thai with KETCHUP!! Never heard of that, and ew. Though I used to rock the fried egg, bacon, and rice smothered in ketchup.

(And I love your Asian food.)

Anonymous said...

What cut of pork are you using? Can't wait to try this.

LindyV

Heather said...

Lindy - I usually use loin chops.

Andy B said...

My family loves tonkatsu, but it is a bit of a pain to make at home. This sounds like an awesome alternative, and I've got some loin chops that I've been trying to decide what to do with. Now I know. And you're right. Asian cooking doesn't have to be hard. We just make it that way by thinking you need all sorts of hard-to-find ingredients. Some of the best Asian food I've had in my travels there are dirt simple to make, and I've easily reproduced them when I got back home.