Salt-and-Pepper Pork Chops with Vinegared Scallions

Time1 hour
YieldsServes 2
Salt and pepper port cops with vinegared scallions.
Salt-and-pepper port cops with vinegared scallions.
(Jenny Huang)
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When seasoned simply with salt and pepper, they remind me of samgyeopsal, or grilled pork belly, the kind you’d eat at a Korean barbecue restaurant, just from a different life and with less fat (not that there’s anything wrong with a little lard). I love this preparation on thick, bone-in chops too, as the simple palate lets you taste the pork as it is: rich, meaty and just a touch gamey (but in the best way). It’ll make you go, “Oh, that’s what pork tastes like.”

For an even cook, these pork chops get pan-fried for a couple minutes per side, then finished in the oven. A simple dipping sauce of sesame oil, salt, pepper and brown sugar adds a third element, nuttiness, and echoes the samgyeopsal inspiration. The scallions here are a nod to pa muchim, that wonderful gochugaru-slicked scallion salad that often accompanies samgyeopsal to cut the richness of the meat with its sharp allium power.

For the pork chops:
For the vinegared scallions:

Prepare the pork chops: In a small bowl, stir together the salt, pepper and brown sugar. Sprinkle the rub generously on both sides of the pork chops and let them dry-brine at room temperature for 30 minutes or up to 1 hour (any longer and you’ll end up with deli meat). Heat the oven to 400 degrees.


When ready to cook, blot both sides of the pork chops with a paper towel (removing the moisture will help you get a nicely browned crust) and smear the oil on both sides of each pork chop with your hands.


Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until very, very hot (you might see a wisp of smoke). Sear the pork chops until nicely browned, 2 minutes on the first side, then repeat on the second side, just 1 minute this time.


Transfer the pan to the oven and roast until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 145°, 8 to 10 minutes (with a thick pork chop, to get an accurate read, you’ll need to use tongs to hold the chop and then carefully insert the thermometer laterally from the side). Remove the pan from the oven and set the pork chops aside on two serving plates to rest while you prepare the scallion salad and dipping sauce.


Make the vinegared scallions: In a medium bowl, toss together the scallions, vinegar, gochugaru and brown sugar. Season generously with salt and pepper and scatter messily over the pork chops.


To finish: Make the dipping sauce by adding a pinch each of salt, pepper and brown sugar to two small dishes. Add 1 tablespoon sesame oil to each dish and stir until the sugar dissolves.


Serve each scallion-bedecked pork chop alongside a mound of white rice and the dipping sauce on the side (see note).

For the perfect bite, I like to carve the meat with a fork and knife and drag each piece through the dipping sauce before eating with some of the scallions. Then, for relief, I chase that nutty, salty, sour and sweet flavor bomb with a bite of white rice.

Reprinted from “Korean American” by Eric Kim (Clarkson Potter, 2022).