Weeknight Cooking

Instant Pot Soy-Braised Pork for When Life Feels Extra Chaotic

It practically makes itself!

November 26, 2018
Photo by Mark Weinberg

We all need recipes that can solve the dinnertime conundrums life throws our way.

For example, say you have family staying with you over the holidays. You need meals that’ll feed a crowd but won’t tie you to the kitchen. Or you’re hosting friends on a weeknight and want a luxe low-effort main that can be made completely ahead and reheated. Or you’re settling in for a lazy Sunday and want something cozy, warming, and so simple you barely have to lift a finger.

Enter this Soy-Ginger Pork with Noodles and Greens. It’s what I turn to for all of the above, as well as when I need a satisfying weeknight dinner that practically makes itself (Really, it’s that easy!)

It’s an ‘Instant Dinner Party’ in much the same way as Andy Ward & Jenny Rosenstrach's Pork Shoulder Ragu, which Kristen Miglore wrote about in her Genius Recipes column. It’s dead simple to execute, impossible to mess up, and a surefire crowd pleaser. (A big bowl of pork and noodles—whether in red sauce or soy sauce—never fails to make people swoon.) And here, I mean ‘instant’ quite literally. I adapted the dish to an Instant Pot, which shaves the total cooking time from over 3 hours to just 60 minutes.

I’ve been making variations of this dish for years, testing and tweaking the ingredients and steps along the way. The most important thing I’ve learned? Because the braising liquid is so flavorful and umami-packed, there’s no need to brown the pork or sauté aromatics to build flavor. In fact, I find the flavors of the dish to be cleaner and brighter when ditching these steps. (Isn’t it wonderful when simpler is better?!)

Which means that prep is beyond easy: combine cubes of pork (cut from a small shoulder or country-style ribs) with a zippy mix of soy sauce, fish sauce, chile-garlic sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar, add a chunk of unpeeled ginger and whole scallions, and let your oven (or Instant Pot) do all of the work. (I’ve included instructions for both oven braising and pressure cooking in the recipe.) You’ll be left with fall-apart tender pork and the most complex, heady, mind-blowingly delicious broth you can’t stop slurping.

Even better, you can make the pork completely ahead; refrigerate it (broth and all) for two days or freeze for several months and rewarm when you’re ready to eat. Your future self with thank you.

For serving, I like to toss the pork with noodles (lo mein, Chinese egg noodles, and even linguine work well), kale or spinach, lots of broth, and simple garnishes of toasted sesame seeds, slivered green onions, and chile sauce. The whole thing is delicious over rice, too. That’s it—so little work for such big pay-off.

If only all of life’s problems were so easily and deliciously solved!

What's your best dish for holiday chaos? Share 'em in the comments section!

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Written by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.


Stephanie January 12, 2019
I can’t have fish sauce, is there a good alternative? Or will it work to just omit entirely? Thanks!
EmilyC January 12, 2019
Hi Stephanie—I think it’ll be fine to just omit it! Let me know how it goes! : )