Pork Yakitori

By Isaac Delamatre, Food Service Coordinator

I want to share a dish that was created for an international language dinner we co-hosted with the language faculty. Inspiration came from a short list of Japanese dishes presented to us by adjunct faculty member Toyoko Osborne. She suggested ginger pork, which automatically made me think of yakitori. This led to me wanting to mash up the two dishes, which resulted in us creating something completely different. Like most winning preparations, this recipe started with an adventure.

I traveled to Fairborn, Ohio, to find most of the specialty ingredients we needed to complete other dishes in the meal. I found a Korean grocery,* of which there are quite a few, and methodically moved through my list pilling all manner of exotic ingredients on the counter. The family who runs the place was extremely helpful; translating labels that were not in English, making pairing suggestions, etc. I ended up grabbing a few items not knowing exactly what they were, but allowed myself to be enthralled with the packaging and trusting in my wine selection advice of “just buy the wine that has a nice label.”

Pork yakitori

It turns out that the product called “drinking vinegar” is fantastic. It is flavored with pomegranate and is only slightly acidic compared to the standard 5–7 percent acidity vinegars I typically use. It is syrupy and dark, and served as an awesome component to the marinade featured in this dish. Here it goes:

(Serves approximately 4 people)

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. pork shoulder (or any large cut of boneless pork will do. Slice the pork thin*—no more than ½ an inch.)
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Marinade:
    • ½ cup soy sauce or tamari
    • ½ cup black pomegranate drinking vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons black strap molasses
    • 1 tablespoons fresh ground ginger
    • 1 tablespoons fresh garlic finely minced
    • 1 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
    • 1 tablespoons red wine or rice vinegar
    • 1 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper

ProcedureKorean drinking vinegar

  1. Mix together all the marinade ingredients.
  2. Taste the marinade and adjust the seasonings to your taste. The trick here is to balance the sweet, salty, and savory notes to your liking. If you want it a little sweeter, think about adding some brown sugar. If you really enjoy the fruity sweetness, add more drinking vinegar instead. If you want a sweet and sour taste, add more rice vinegar. Feel free to load up on the ginger and garlic. It’s hard to go wrong with either.
  3. Place the sliced pork on the skewers. I try and put one large slice of pork on a skewer. Yakitori is not a kabob, so the idea is not to load it up. Usually yakitori is enjoyed similarly to tapas where you enjoy many different preparations so the individual portions are not gigantic.
  4. After you have skewered all of the pork, place them into a baking pan and pour the marinade over them. Mix it up really well and ensure the marinade has thoroughly covered the pork. Cover the pan and let it sit in the fridge until 30 minutes before you want to serve it. If you started this dish before others featured on your menu, you can work on all the other sides now!
  5. Heat your oven to 350°F or fire up your grill. If you are using a gas grill, keep in mind that this marinade could clog up your gas burners; you won’t have this problem if you use wood or charcoal, plus it will taste better. (Why you would use a gas grill over wood is anybody’s guess, but I’ll try not to judge.)
  6. If you’re a griller, you already know what to do; place the skewers nice and evenly on that hot grill, let them cook nice and slow until they are colored nicely and are cooked through.
  7. For the oven, place them in one even layer on a sheet pan and roast them for about 15–20 minutes. To test for doneness, open one up. If the meat is cooked through, they are done. All that’s left is to serve and enjoy!

* Korean groceries are all over Fairborn. I found mine on Kauffman Avenue. Good luck!

* It helps to place the meat in the freezer for 15–20 minutes before slicing. This firms up the meat and will allow you to achieve a more even slice.