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Gochujang brings the big flavor that skinny pork chops need

UPDATED: Wed., June 17, 2020

Gochujang adds flavor to quick-cooking boneless pork chops served over a citrus slaw.  (Tom McCorkle/For The Washington Post)
Gochujang adds flavor to quick-cooking boneless pork chops served over a citrus slaw. (Tom McCorkle/For The Washington Post)
By Ann Maloney Washington Post

When I hear a new song that I like, I sometimes listen to it over and over again until I know it well. I can’t get enough of it. The same thing happens to me with condiments. I’ll use one in a new way that grabs me and then I can’t stop using it.

I had tasted gochujang, the Korean chile paste, but it wasn’t until I cooked with it recently that I started thinking about all of the things that it could make better. The hot, salty, slightly sweet paste has long been widely popular, but it wasn’t something I’d experimented with at home.

I began hitting the replay button on it, using it in a variety of dishes and taking inspiration from others, including Ali Slagle’s three-ingredient skirt steak with gochujang (and honey), which I tested for a story here at the Washington Post. I bought some for my home kitchen and since have brushed it on shrimp, added a bit to a stir-fry and put a dollop in dumpling dipping sauce.

It came to the rescue on a recent evening, giving a flavor boost to thin-cut, boneless chops. I like the chops for weeknights because they cook so quickly, but often they are dry and not too flavorful. I have tried marinating them in a spicy concoction. That helps a bit, but making the marinade and setting aside the time for the meat to soak up the flavors almost negates the ease of the cooked-in-minutes chop.

Enter gochujang. I ran the chops under the broiler. Then, I pulled them out and slathered them with the paste on both sides and returned them to the broiler for a couple more minutes. The edges started to get a bit crunchy with chile paste. They were just delicious.

I sliced them and plopped them atop a citrus coleslaw for a brightly flavored supper that called to mind a summer cookout.

The meat actually plays a supporting role to the slaw here. This one calls for ginger, soy sauce and sesame seeds, which I think married well with the spicy pork, but cabbage slaws are seemingly infinitely adjustable.

Spicy Broiled Pork With Citrus Slaw

A cabbage slaw is great because it is adjustable to whatever you have on hand. This recipe, for example, can easily be adapted to go with any quick-cooking protein. Here, we used thin, boneless pork chops . You could top it with cooked chicken, shrimp or seared tofu. For the slaw, switch it up by substituting peanuts for the sesame seeds. Don’t like carrots? Add thinly sliced red peppers to the mix .

For the pork

4 thin boneless pork chops (about 3 ounces each)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons gochujang, plus more for serving, if desired

For the slaw

1 lemon

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger or ginger paste (optional)

2 cups thinly shredded green cabbage (about 1/2 medium head)

1 cup thinly shredded red cabbage (about 1/4 medium head)

½ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves

½ cup coarsely grated carrots (about 1 large carrot)

¼ cup sliced scallions (from 1 large scallion), plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Place the oven rack 5 to 6 inches from the broiler and turn on the broiler. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly grease the foil.

Pat the chops dry and then lightly salt and pepper both sides. Transfer the chops to the baking sheet and place it under the broiler. Cook for about 4 minutes, turning once midway through cooking.

Remove the chops from the oven and brush them liberally with the gochujang on both sides. Return the chops to the broiler and broil for an additional 2 to 3 minutes on one side, watching carefully so the sauce does not burn.

Remove the pork from the oven. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing into ¼-inch thick strips.

While the meat is resting, zest and juice the lemon. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and zest, lime juice, oil, soy sauce and sugar, as well as the red pepper flakes and ginger, if using.

In a large bowl, combine the cabbages, parsley, carrots and scallions.

Add the vinaigrette and sesame seeds, if using, to the slaw and toss until well coated. Taste, season with salt and pepper, if needed.

Divide the slaw among 4 shallow bowls and top with the sliced pork. Sprinkle with additional scallions, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings

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