A cross between Chinese char siew and siew yoke, this easy caramelized pork chops is one of the best ways to prepare pork chops. You will go for seconds.
These are the easiest and tastiest pork chops I have ever made. Well, maybe not the best like the best in the world, but definitely a keeper since they are so easy and so fast to prepare.
Give it a try if you are a fan of either one of the two Chinese delicacies. Actually, give it a try even if you have never tried char siew or siew yoke, you won’t regret it.
Ingredients for caramelized pork chops
We will need thinly sliced pork chops, light soy sauce, kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), five-spice powder, cornstarch, sugar, salt, and pepper.
Thinly sliced pork chops
Most grocery stores sell pork chop in thick slabs, though if you are lucky, your store may sell the thinly sliced version. If you start with thick slabs (about 1 inch thick on average), simply cut each slab into 3 thin slices. You may want to partially freeze the pork first to get an even cut.
Light soy sauce
There are two common versions of Chinese soy sauce, light soy sauce, and dark soy sauce. Light soy sauce is the one used most of the time, and if a recipe simply says soy sauce, this is usually what we mean.
Kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
Kecap manis is an Indonesian sweet soy sauce. We use it to create dipping sauces and chili sauces, and many Indonesian dishes will call for this as one of the ingredients. My favorite brands are Kecap Manis Bango and Kecap Manis ABC, both of these should be easy to find nowadays. :)
For a quick substitute, you can use a 50:50 ratio of soy sauce and coconut palm sugar. For example, substitute 1 tablespoon of kecap manis with 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1/2 tablespoon of coconut palm sugar. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best substitute I have found.
Preparing and cooking the pork chops
First, make sure your pork chop is cut into thin slices. Next, tenderize each slice with the back of a knife/cleaver, or pound with a meat tenderizer into 1/4" thick.
Place pork chop slices in a mixing bowl, mix with light soy sauce and kecap manis, and all the dry rub ingredients (five-spice powder, cornstarch, sugar, salt, and pepper). Let the pork marinate for 30 minutes.
Heat a cast-iron grill pan on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. You can check if the pan is ready by flicking a few drops of water on to the grill pan. If the water evaporates quickly, it’s ready. Also, you don’t want the pan to be too hot, meaning you shouldn’t see smoke rising from the pan.
Dip a brush/paper towel in oil and rub the surface of the preheated grill pan to prevent food from sticking to the pan, then start placing the marinated pork onto the hot surface.
Since we have ensured to use thinly sliced pork chops, we should only need slightly under 2 minutes per side to fully cook the pork.
Resting and serving the pork chops
Rest the grilled pork chops for 10 minutes on a cutting board loosely covered with a piece of aluminum foil. A resting period is important so the grilled pork chops can reabsorb and redistribute the juices, giving you a nice, juicy, and flavorful meat in every bite. So don’t skip this super easy but important step.
Once the resting period is up, use a sharp knife to cut the pork chop into thin strips.
You can serve the caramelized pork chop strips immediately with steamed white rice, as noodle topping, or even as a sandwich filling.
Caramelized Pork Chops
- 3 slabs of pork loin (about 700-800 gram), about 1" thick each
- 2 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon sweet soy sauce (Indonesian: kecap manis)
- Dry rub (mix together the following ingredients)
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- Cut each slab of pork loin into three equal slices. Tenderize each slice with the back of a knife/cleaver. You should end up with 9 slices of pork loin.
- In a mixing bowl, marinate the pork slices with light soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, and gently massage the dry rub into the meat. Let the pork marinate for 30 minutes.
- Heat a cast-iron grill pan on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. You can check if the pan is ready by flicking a few drops of water on to the grill pan. If the water evaporates quickly, it’s ready. Also, you don’t want the pan to be too hot, meaning you shouldn’t see smoke rising from the pan.
- Dip a brush/paper towel in oil and rub the surface of the preheated grill pan to prevent food from sticking to the pan, then start placing the marinated pork onto the hot surface.
- Grill both sides until slightly charred and caramelized, up to 2 minutes per side should be enough.
- Let the cooked pork chops rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board covered loosely with a piece of aluminum foil, then cut into thin strips and serve with steamed white rice.