An authentic simple Korean marinade is the star of this spicy, sticky Korean pork stir fry that will leave you wanting more long after you licked your bowl clean! This requires just 30 minutes marinating time – which can be skipped if you’re in a hurry!
If you like BIG flavours – and I mean BIG, HUGE flavours, then this stir fry is for you. The flavours are much more intense than usual stir fries – it’s spicier, stickier and stronger. The jammy sauce is the type that will have you smacking your lips and licking your fingers, wanting to marinade everything in this.
And actually, you could. For those who have sampled Korean Fried Chicken (the “other” KFC), the flavour of the sauce will be familiar because the sticky coating for KFC has similar ingredients to this marinade.
A technique that is not used widely but is fantastic for getting incredible flavour into marinades and sauces is grated onions and pears / apples. I first learnt about this technique from my Korean hairdresser who dictates recipes to me while she does my roots!!!
The reason that grating is such a fantastic technique is that juice is created which forms part of the marinade. Fruit juices simply don’t compare – far less flavour, even when they’re cold pressed fresh juice. And as for grated onions – to my knowledge, you can’t buy that!!!
I made this with pork shoulder (boneless) which is a really great value cut of meat because it is typically considered to be a tougher cut suited to slow cooking. But actually, if you slice it thinly against the grain, it is wonderful to use for quick cooking purposes like in a stir fry.
The one ingredient in this recipe that you might not be able to find easily is Gochujang which is a Korean spice paste. It comes in a bright red tub and the paste is a deep red colour. It’s spicy, savoury with a touch of sweet, and it’s a secret weapon in Korean cooking because it’s go so many layers of flavour. It is used in a lot of Korean dishes.
It can be purchased at Korean grocery stores and most Asian grocery stores for a few dollars. But don’t worry if you can’t find it, I have provided a substitute that yields a very similar result – my taste testers actually couldn’t tell the difference!
Gochujang aside, this is a seriously quick midweek meal. I think you’ll be quite surprised at how short the ingredient list is – thanks to Gochujang which provides much of the flavour base – and just 30 minutes of marinating time.
In fact, I’ve made this without marinating and it still worked out great because the flavour of the glaze is so strong.
I served this with plain white rice and lightly pickled vegetables (I popped the recipe in the notes below). Typically I would have served this with kimchi which is the spicy Korean pickled cabbage that is served with practically every dish for every meal in Korea, but I didn’t have any on hand.
This is a MUST TRY for anyone who loves food with big bold flavours!!! The sticky/sweet/spicy/savory flavours remind me of Mongolian Beef. It is quite spicy, but not “blow your head off” spicy.
Ugh. Writing this up just reminds me how lip smackingly delicious this is and now I’m craving it!!! I’m going to make this for dinner tonight. Using chicken. YUM! – Nagi x
- 1 lb / 500g boneless pork shoulder (excess fat trimmed) (Note 1)
- 1 small pear , grated (1/2 cup) (or nashi pear OR apple) (Note 2)
- 1/2 medium onion , grated (1/4 cup) (brown, white or yellow)
- 1/2 tsp fresh ginger , minced or finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove , crushed
- 1 tbsp soy sauce (all purpose or light soy sauce)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 3 tbsp gochujang (Korean Hot Pepper Paste) OR see Note 3 for substitution
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 garlic , minced
- 1 onion , halved and sliced (brown, white or yellow)
- 1 scallion/shallot stalk , sliced
- Sesame seeds
Cut pork into thin slices. If using pork shoulder, as I did, halve it lengthwise to form two long pieces, then slice the pieces. See photo below.
Combine Marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add pork. Marinate for 30 minutes, or overnight.
To cook, heat oil in a large non stick skillet (Note 4) over high heat. Add garlic and onion, cook for 2 minutes until translucent. Add pork and cook for 5 minutes or until dark golden and caramelised, and just cooked through.
Serve immediately with rice, garnished with sliced shallots and sesame seeds.
1. Pork shoulder is ideal for this recipe because it's got a bit of fat marbled throughout it. At Korean BBQ, this is made using pork belly which is too fatty for a stir fry like this (in my personal view). It will also work with any pork cuts suitable for stir frying, like tenderloin, but the meat will be leaner.
2. This recipe works best with pear, next best with nashi pear and as a last substitute, red apple works great too. The use of pears and apples in marinades is a classic Korean technique which works brilliantly.
3. Gochujang is a Korean paste that is used in a lot of Korean recipes. It's spicy and savoury, with a touch of sweet. It's a secret weapon because it's got so many layers of flavour! It can be purchased at Asian grocery stores (~$3), or online here (Aus) or here(US). It's a bit difficult to make your own, but if you are interested, you can read about that here.
However! The good news if you are keen to try this and can't get Gochujang is that you can achieve a similar flavour by using the following instead: 2 tbsp sriracha + 1 tbsp miso paste + 1/2 tsp sugar (white or brown). The stir fry does not taste exactly the same but is very similar, with the same sticky spicy slightly sweet glaze with great depth of flavour!
Also NOTE! The stir fry will taste very similar but will not come out the same dark colour, it will be paler because the sriracha / miso substitute does not have the same colour. You could compensate for this by using DARK SOY SAUCE instead of all purpose or light soy sauce that the recipe calls for which will make the colour closer to as pictured. Update: As readers note below in the comments, it still tastes amazing! It just looks different!
4. I strongly recommend cooking this in a NON STICK pan because the marinade is quite jammy so it will caramelise and stick to the pan. If you do not have a non stick pan, an easy way to clean the fry pan is to fill with some water and bring it to a simmer on the stove. This will loosen the caramelised bits stuck to the fry pan.
5. Adapted from this Dwaejibulgogi Korean Spicy BBQ Pork recipe from Maangchi, a wonderful authentic Korean food blog. The original recipe is for Korean BBQ Pork rather than a stir fry, but I find that the marinade is plentiful and comes out beautifully juicy and sticky, making it a perfect base for a simple but flavour loaded stir fry!
Traditionally, this is made with thin slices of pork belly then served in lettuce wraps with Ssamjang Korean sauce (recipe link to Maangchi website) - classic Korean BBQ way!
6. QUICK PICKLED VEGETABLES: Bring 1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) to a simmer with 2 tsp sugar and 3/4 tsp salt. When sugar has dissolved, pour over 3 cups sliced cucumbers and carrots. Cool and bring to room temperature, then chill before serving. I sprinkled mine with red peppers.
7. Nutrition per serving, excluding rice. assuming this is made with pork shoulder. If made with pork tenderloin, it reduces to 297 calories per serving.
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