Tamari Mushroom Pork Chops
Tired of plain, sometimes tough, grilled pork chops?
All right, I’ll admit it – once in a while, if I’m in a tearing hurry, I’ll just grill a pork chop. But I vastly prefer to brown and braise. Tender meat infused with flavor from the braising liquid tastes so much better!
We eat pork chops fairly often. I often find reasonably priced family packs, I can cook them quickly and easily, and they taste good. A real bonus, as far as I am concerned, is that I can so easily vary the flavor by just using different braising liquid. Orange Spice, for instance is so different from tomato. I can walk into the kitchen and decide what I am in the mood to eat, if I want to! Or, more often, plan seasoning to complement the rest of the meal.
This time I chose a Japanese inspired treatment. It is common, in Japanese cooking, to season stock with soy sauce and vinegar (and often sake, though I didn’t use that) and use it to simmer (and season) other food. There are a few versions of the basic stock, but most are a little more complex than this. Instead of a real Japanese stock, here, I often use a simplified version, with just mushrooms.
I like to keep dried shitake mushrooms on hand, for this among other uses. It helps, of course, that I can get them easily, because there is a Japanese store in my neighborhood. You could use other dried mushrooms if you have them, or mushroom base or broth, or, for that matter, any other broth. But the shitake both make a rich stock and provide the mushrooms themselves to eat – I call that a win.
Then I seasoned it with tamari. Now, as the word is used in the US (I understand it’s a little different in Japan) tamari is a fermented seasoning very much like soy sauce, but with little or no wheat. The wheat free version has been embraced by the gluten free community, and is usually just called “Gluten Free Soy Sauce” although that is not quite accurate… It’s close enough for practical use, though. San-J is a brand that I believe is widely available in the US, is certified gluten free, and does specifically market to the gluten free community.
Take six dried shitake mushroom caps, and soak them in a cup of hot water. I find an easy way to do this is to pour my water into a measuring cup, add the mushrooms, and zap it for a minute or two – then make sure the mushrooms are fully submerged, and let it rest while I prepare the rest of the food.
Heat a little oil in a fry pan, and brown the chops over high heat, just a minute or two a side, Lower the heat, and add the mushrooms in their broth, two tablespoons of tamari, one tablespoon of rice vinegar, and a teaspoon of commercial ginger paste. (If you have fresh ginger root, and a ginger grater, use just half a teaspoon – you will have so much more flavor! I’d love to claim that I always do that, but… I think that ginger paste is an extremely useful product. Like commercial crushed garlic, it has more flavor than the dried version, but is faster and easier than fresh, and so more likely to be used if I don’t feel well or am rushed.)
Now simmer over low heat, uncovered, for ten minutes, Turn the chops over, and cook another ten minutes or until done. And serve the meat with the mushrooms, and the sauce poured over it.
A handy shortcut, by the way, is to remove the meat and mushrooms from the pan, and then use the remaining liquid to cook vegetables – spinach does particularly well, here. I just used frozen, but really, fresh is almost as fast if you have it, and the flavors combine beautifully. After I photographed the finished chops, I returned the sauce to the pan to reheat, added spinach, and… decided I needed to share that hack!
Tamari Mushroom Pork Chops
- 6 dried shitake mushroom caps
- 1 c hot water
- oil for pan
- 2 pork chops
- 2 T tamari gluten free soy aauce
- 1 T rice vinegar
- 1 t ginger paste
- Put shitake to soak in hot water, set aside.
- Heat oil in fry pan. Place chops in pan,over high heat. Brown briefly on each side. Lower heat.
- Pour mushrooms and soaking water into pan. Add remaining ingredients and stir.
- Simmer 10 minutes, turn over, simmer another 10 minutes or until done.