This miso-glazed pork chop is a tasty and easy tribute to Niku miso

In the seventh grade I started at a new small middle school. As for the schools, I think you would consider mine “strange”. For example, we had exercise every morning, but after lunch we had health and personal reflection. Some might say it was a free hour, but we had work to do before the end of the quarter. This can range from a journal entry on a specific topic to creating a WordPress blog for a hobby. In one semester we talked about cultural differences in our everyday life. This included a weekend overnight stay with another student from the school. If you’ve ever seen the episode “The Proud Family,” where Penny spends a week with the Zamin family, it was.

I was matched with an exchange student who came mid-year. Mei, who was born in Japan, has lived in the States since she was 4 years old. We had a lot in common – we both liked Ron Weasley, watched anime and hated walking.

When we watched “Degrassi” in her house, intoxicating smells entered my nostrils. On the way to the kitchen I was greeted with an abundance of ingredients – soy sauce, mirin, herbs and vegetables I had never seen before. Miso soup bubbled on the stove while her mother prepared the main course.

“Have you ever drunk Niku Miso?” She asked. Thinking she meant miso soup, I replied, “No, because I don’t like chunks of tofu, but I do like wonton soup.” After a little chuckle, she asked me if I eat pork, then revealed the source of the wonderful smell. When I placed two heaped balls in a lettuce leaf, I finally got the answer I was looking for.

Niku miso is braised ground pork flavored primarily with miso but also with other delicious flavors. The pork is so juicy and moist. I could have eaten 100 more lettuce wraps. I spent the rest of the weekend offering to help cook while Mei and her mother shared stories about their grandmother and life in Japan.

This miso-glazed pork chop pays homage to the smothered pork chops I grew up with and my first real introduction to miso and Japanese cuisine. The boneless pork chop, cut in half, is seared before being finished cooking in a miso glaze. Pair it with your favorite veggies and a starch for a quick and easy meal that’s sure to please.

Pork chop glazed with miso

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serving size: 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 boneless pork chops, cut in half
  • 4 tablespoons miso (either white miso or awase; I used awase)
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon neutral oil
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch
  • Optional: freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Optional: 2 spring onion stalks

STEPS:

  1. Pat pork chops dry. If there is a thick chunk of fat around your pork chop, score it from top to bottom several times. This will prevent it from curling up as it cooks. Poke holes with a fork and place back in the fridge until ready to cook.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the miso, rice wine vinegar, mirin, honey, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. Set aside whisk until combined.
  3. Heat neutral oil in a pan over medium heat. Season both sides of the pork with pepper, if desired. I would not recommend using salt due to the salt content in miso and soy sauce.
  4. Place the pork chops in the pan and press down lightly to ensure contact with the pan. Bake 4-5 minutes on each side. If necessary, work in batches. Place cooked pork chop on a cooling rack set on a baking sheet.
  5. Remove all pork chops from pan and reduce heat to medium/low. Pour miso mixture into pan. Stir slowly with a rubber spatula. In a bowl, whisk cornstarch with ½ cup water. Add to the miso mixture.
  6. When the mixture begins to bubble, about 2-4 minutes, return the pork chops to the pan. Turn a few times to coat.
  7. Cook for another 3-5 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken; Spoon glaze over pork chop.
  8. Remove from the heat, garnish with spring onions or sesame seeds and enjoy!

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