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Jan 20, 2023

HOW TOShoga-yaki, a Delicious Taste of Japanese Home Cooking

Tackling Japanese cuisine as a home cook can be daunting, but Japan goes far beyond sushi and ramen. The traditional home-cooking sauce for shoga-yaki, or ginger pork, is a simple yet delicious delight.

Jan 20, 2023

Available pre-packaged for convenience, amazing from scratch

Japanese shoga-yaki sauce is a slightly sweet and savory sauce made with ginger, soy sauce, and sake. One of the more popular recipes in Japanese home-cooking, for many Japanese people, shoga-yaki conjures the same feelings as mac and cheese would for an American – a rich, hearty meal, made with love. A regular favorite in school cafeterias, it’s also a popular menu item at restaurants catering to business people in a hurry.

Delicious shoga-yaki ginger sauce can also be found in premade form in many supermarkets. While convenient and delicious, once you try a premade version, we recommend trying your hand at making this simple sauce from scratch.

Shoga-yaki is a simple and easy dish, taking less time from start to finish than cooking rice. It’s just as simple to make it for a family of four as a group of twenty. The heavy use of ginger the dish is known for gives it a delicious, spicy punch, and helps the dish stand out in a national cuisine known for highlighting delicate flavors with simple seasoning. 

From pantry staples to delicious sauce in minutes

While many families have their own variations, all you’ll need for a simple shoga-yaki sauce is mirin, cooking sake, soy sauce and a healthy chunk of ginger. In a pinch, it’s fine to use pre-grated ginger from a tube.

If using whole ginger, peel a two inch piece of ginger root. If possible, use a Japanese grater and grate about a third of the root. For the rest of the root, cut it along the grain into the thinnest slices you can, then cut the slices into matchsticks. Put the matchsticks in a bowl with two tablespoons of soy sauce, two teaspoons of cooking sake and one teaspoon of mirin, and mix well. A tablespoon of sugar is a common addition, balancing the heat of the ginger with sweetness, as well as giving a little caramel char to the sauteed pork. Preparing the rest of the ingredients will allow the flavors of the sauce to meld.

Japanese home cooking for an authentic taste sensation

To make shoga-yaki, you’ll want thinly sliced pork loin (though pork chops will do in a pinch), shredded cabbage, thinly sliced onion, tomato wedges, sliced cucumber and cooked rice, to serve. A nice bowl of miso soup will really help round out the meal.

Pre-season the pork by mixing the grated ginger root into two tablespoons of cooking sake. Pour the mix over your pork slices, and let sit for a couple minutes while you slice an onion. Add a tablespoon of oil to a wide saute pan on medium heat and cook the onion slices until soft, then move them to the side of the pan. Drain any excess liquid from the pork and add the pan so they don’t overlap. Right before flipping the pork, add the shoga-yaki sauce, then mix the onions back in with the pork. Give the thin strips of ginger enough time to soften, and bam – you’re done! From start to finish should take no more than ten minutes.

To serve, mound sliced cabbage on a plate, with tomato and cucumber slices on the side. Plate the onion, pork and ginger sauté on the side. Serve with a bowl of Japanese short grain rice, and ideally a bowl of miso soup, to enjoy the taste of Japanese home cooking.