I have been looking forward to sharing this recipe for months...I just had to make it a second time to make doubly sure it was a winner. IT IS. If you know miso's intense brininess and gochujang's savory pungency, then you might hesitate to believe me that using both of these together in this recipe results in a braised pork roast that is deeply flavorful, yet mellow. Wonderfully mellow.
There's a bit of a cultural mash-up, wherein the miso hails from Japan and the gochujang from Korea. They are both fermented condiments involving soybeans and rice and yet they are definitely different, but works in harmony in the recipe. The saké in the recipe imparts a subtle floral note that adds another level of nuance.
My recipe uses a 4-lb pork roast which would technically feed 8 adults (assuming 1/2-lb each). But don't hesitate for a second to make the full recipe even if you have a smaller crowd or smaller family to feed like me. I always want leftovers. There are so many ways to stretch the leftover pork into another meal or two or even three! In fact, I have posted some ideas before to use leftovers from a more "classic" beer-braised pork roast recipe from last year, such as this 'Pulled Pork & Brussels Sprouts Fried Rice' or 'Pappardelle with Pulled Pork & Wilted Spinach'.
As for the pork itself, do invest in the best quality you can find and afford, even if it means eating it less often and/or less of it at any one meal (and eating more veggies and sides). For a pork roast, I first ask my butcher if they have a 'capicola' (which is usually less lean than their 'standard' pork shoulder) or a Berkshire pork shoulder (the Berkshire breed is renowned for it's more tender and fatty meat). Even if they don't have either and I go for the regular pork shoulder, I ask to see a few pieces and select one based on the visible marbling. More marbling (of fat and collagen) means more tender and juicy roast! You're paying your good dollars for it, so it may as well be the best one available, don't you think? If you do have access to a Berkshire pork roast, do go for it. Admittedly I cringe at the relatively higher cost but since I make one roast stretch into at least two if not three meals, I don't feel too guilty about it.
If you're looking to switch up your been-there-done-that Sunday roast, then make this one instead. We love it!
p.s. stay tuned for a follow-up post next week for another leftover pork roast meal idea. It's definitely outside the box. BE excited ;)
Miso + Gochujang Braised Pork Roast
Recipe serves 7-8. (I often make this for our family of 4. Leftovers are easily reinvented into different meals! See head notes.)
4lb boneless pork shoulder (see head notes about picking a pork roast)
3 leeks, white and light green parts only (discard dark green ends or use elsewhere such as for stock), cut into 1" pieces
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1" large pieces
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tbsp gochujang
2 tbsp white miso paste
300ml bottle of saké (Japanese rice wine)
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp tamari (or light soy sauce if gluten intolerance is not an issue)
2 C chicken broth, homemade or quality store-bought low sodium
Water to top up braising liquid, as needed
Kosher salt & pepper
1. Place a large, heavy-bottom dutch oven on the stove and heat it over a medium-high heat. Give it a good 5-8 minutes to fully preheat. Meanwhile, season the entire pork liberally with salt. I use Diamond Crystal kosher salt and use about 1 tbsp of that per each pound of pork roast, in other words 4 tbsp of Diamond Crystal kosher salt for a 4-lb roast. This may seem like a lot, but imagine you are seasoning the entire thickness of the roast too, not just its surface. Not to mention, some of that seasoning is for the braising liquid (or 'for the pot').
2. Add just a little bit of oil (I usually use high-heat oil like coconut, ghee or avocado oil) and immediately put in the pork shoulder, fat cap side down. Very soon the fat will render into oil and continue to brown the pork on all sides, making sure to get a nice golden brown all over including the sides of the roast. Set it aside.
3. If there is a lot of oil rendered into the pot, use a pair of kitchen tongs holding some paper towels to mop up the excess oil. You only need a few tablespoons worth for the next step, which is to saute the cut leeks, carrots and smashed garlic cloves in the oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Once the veggies start to soften, add in the gochujang and miso paste, stirring to break them down a bit and to heat them through to develop flavor. Deglaze the pot with the saké. Allow it to simmer for a minute to dissipate the alcohol (admittedly not scientific, but I stick my face above the pot to smell the steam coming off the pot. Once the sharp alcohol smell has diffused, I move on to the next step). Stir in the honey and tamari (or soy sauce). Add the chicken broth, and top up with water as needed such that the liquid line is 3/4 way up the sides of the roast. Bring to a boil. Cover and braise on a low simmer for about 1.5 hours. This amount of time gets the roast to a tender stage but still firm enough to slice into ~3/4" thick pieces for serving - which is the way we like to enjoy it. You can braise longer if you prefer it to be "fork tender" aka you can pull the meat apart with two forks. Check occasionally until desired texture.
p.s. Don't forget to check out the posts for using leftover braised pork that I linked above in the headnotes. Make this roast on Sunday and have weeknight dinner sorted!