(Recipe) Pork Chop, plain and delicious

(View caption for tips) As an asian chinese, I have had countless experiences with pork in a myriad of dishes. Pork in soup, braised, minced, cured, sliced and stir fried with vegetables, noodles, grilled as a kebab/satay etc. All these dishes use pork as the base for either taste or texture, and they build on the flavor through additional seasoning and marination.

It is clear that we chinese love our pork. Yet, it is almost miraculous that we do not have a cooking technique that graces the pork for all its porky goodness. Actually, we do, in the form of the most delectable roasted suckling pig, the equivalent of peking duck in the pork kingdom. Ah, the crackling skin with a dash of hoisin sauce… There is a certain romance with eating a succulent piece of pork for what it is, and nothing quite comes close to the suckling pig, except maybe a perfectly grilled, succulent and savory pork chop.

I was always told growing up that we should not eat pork that has been cooked anything less than well done for safety reasons. It did not help that the ‘steakhouses’ I frequent back home (jack’s place, swensons) only cooked their pork loins one way (rubber), so I never learnt to appreciate juicy pork chops and actively shunned it. However, thanks to media exposure to the culinary world (aka procrastination through watching food network and youtube), I am hearing more and more chefs claiming that it is safe to eat pork done to a pink as long as the meat reaches a certain temperature. Naturally, my guts beseeched that I do just that. Macad_140124_DSC0046.jpgPan frying a pork chop shouldn’t be too different from steak preparation, right? Turns out, there are few differences, but in general, if you know how to do your steak right, you should have no problem with a pork chop. Compared to a steak, a pork chop tends to curl up a little more, resulting in an uneven sear, so score appropriately. Overcooked pork chop is also a lot more unforgiving than steak, so its best that you monitor the inner temperature with an insteant read thermometer. Lastly, the aroma from seared beef is something to die for but not pork. Heck, the beef stock I made previously is so much more intense than my tonkotsu broth, even without extra seasoning! Nonetheless, if you grill the pork chop right, you will be rewarded with an ever so succulent piece of white* meat that cost a fraction of what a similar grade of steak will cost. (Ribeye $15 to $20 per lb at whole foods, pork loin $6-8 per lb) Macad_140124_DSC0047.jpg Now for the interesting comparison between the two pieces pork chop. The piece on the left (bone-in) is dryer than the one on the right despite being more pinkish. I am guessing it is because the bone-in was frozen for two days and then thawed gently, while the other one was fresh from the shelf. The cut shouldn’t be a huge factor since I have achieved a similar juicy tenderness ¬†with a bone-in before. Moral of the story? Freezing meat makes a huge difference to the final product depending on what kind of dish you are making. For a pork chop dish where the quality hinges primarily on the meat and technique, do yourself a favor and get nothing but the freshest.

To conclude, a pork chop done right is every bit as sexy as a ribeye grilled to perfection, and at a fraction of the cost (and caloric penalty) too! I will be doing more pan frying real soon.

*Ok, some may consider pork as red meat, but really, who cares! So long as it tastes good.

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