Fire Up the Grill for Korean-Inspired Pork Chops

Juicy, big pork chops get a dash of Korean flair.

Juicy, big pork chops get a dash of Korean flair.

 

Firing up the grill this Memorial Day weekend?

Add a little more heat with “Korean-Inspired Pork Chops.”

This straight-forward recipe is from “Cooking Light Mad Delicious” (Oxmoor) by Keith Schroeder, culinary educator, founder of High Road Craft Ice Cream, and columnist for Cooking Light magazine.

The book, which came out last year and of which I received a review copy, includes 126 recipes written in a unique chart-style format. After each ingredient listed, Schroeder adds a phrase to explain why it’s essential to the dish. For example, in a recipe for “Carrot-Ginger Consomme,” he writes after the entry for 3 cups fresh carrot juice: “It separates when boiled, breaking into vibrant orange solids and a muted orange, almost clear broth.” In that same recipe, he notes why enoki mushrooms are used: “They’re meaty. They’re cute.” And why fresh chives finish the dish: “Makes the dish decidedly savory. When used as a finish, the perfume of chives is on the front end of the olafactory experience. It says, ‘I am a meal — here to satisfy your soul.’ ”

For seasoned cooks, all of that might be more than you really need. But for others who always question the “why” of everything — tech engineers who like to cook, for instance — the info can be a fun addition.

The pork chops caught my eye because I always like finding new recipes to make use of my big tub of gochujang in the fridge. The dark red Korean red pepper paste, as thick as tomato paste, is spicy, sweet and full of umami.

Gochujang is an indispensable ingredient in Korean cooking.

Gochujang is an indispensable ingredient in Korean cooking.

You can pick up a container at an Asian or Korean market, along with the kimchi you’ll need for the marinade, which couldn’t be easier to make. Just blitz kimchi, water, gochujang, ginger, sugar and garlic in a blender. Smear it all over thick pork loin chops and allow to marinate for two hours.

Then, grill the chops, along with long green onions. The onions get super sweet from the fire. The pork chops end up juicy, with their exterior a little sweet, a little spicy and a little garlicky.

Don’t let the kimchi in the marinade scare you if you’re not a fan of heat. The flavor of the marinade on the pork chops is pretty mild. The porkiness is what’s dominant. If you want more heat, just serve some extra kimchi on the side.

It’s the perfect way to add a little more fire to your holiday weekend.

P.S. If all of that has whetted your appetite for Korean food, be sure to read my story in last weekend’s San Francisco Chronicle about where to find the best Korean food in the Bay Area.

MadDelcious

Korean-Inspired Pork Chops

(Serves 4)

1/2 cup spicy kimchi

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons gochujang

2 tablespoons grated fresh gingerroot

1 tablespoon sugar

4 grated garlic cloves

4 (6-ounce) bone-in pork loin chops

8 whole green onions, roots trimmed

Combine the first six ingredients (through garlic) in a mini food processor. Process until smooth

Place the pork chops in a large, sturdy zip-lock-top plastic bag. Pour marinade over the top.

Massage the marinade into the chops, and then seal and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Fire up your grill for direct heat or grill pan to medium-high heat.

Remove pork chops from the marinade and discard the marinade.

Grill the pork chops for about 2 1/2 minutes on each side, or until a thermometer reads 140 degrees internally. Move them to a platter to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Grill the green onions for about 1 minute on each side. Serve with the chops.

Serving size: 1 pork chop and 2 green onions. Calories: 291. Fat: 10g (saturated 3.4g, mono 4g, poly 1.4g). Protein: 37g. Carb: 11g. Fiber: 1g. Cholesterol: 100mg. Iron: 2mg. Sodium: 547mg. Calcium: 99 mg.

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