Archive for ‘pork belly’

June 12th, 2011

My pork belly is better than yours

Pork belly; it seems to be the “in” food these days.  Today, you can get it at Whole Foods, sold as if it were some kind of fancy meat, but 10 years ago, it had the opposite reputation; I had to go Chinatown just to find it!  I’ve been enjoying telling everybody “my pork belly is better” every time we’d see it on the menu.  Then a few years ago, I was humbled by David Chang‘s pork bun, and completely knocked out by April Bloomfield‘s pork belly dish.  Let’s talk about how I lost the battle of the pork belly to these great chefs some other time.  Instead, let me give you my recipe, before another humbling experience comes my way.

All you need is pork belly and these:1) Sake, soy sauce, brown sugar, and honey.  Optional: Green onion and/or ginger and/or garlic.  These are to lessen the dish’s ‘porkiness’.  First, wash the pork belly in cold water, then put it in a deep pot, cover it with water and throw in the green onion (or ginger or garlic).2) Cook until tender (45 minutes+ in the pressure cooker; 90 minutes or more in a regular pot with a lid on; high-low med heat), next, take the pork out, discard boiled water and green onion, and when the pork belly is cool enough to touch, cut it 2-3 inches wide.  Give the pot a quick wash.

3) Put the pork belly back into the pot with 2 cups of sake, 2 cups of soy sauce, 1 1/2 (cups) of sugar, 1 cup of water, and a half cup of honey.  The liquid should reach top of the pork belly.  Feel free to change the proportions depending on your taste preference;  if you prefer saltier, more soy sauce (or tiny bit of sea salt); if you prefer milder, more sake (or plum wine is a great alternative to give it more sweetness).4) Cook at med/low heat for 30 min with the pressure cooker or an hour or more in a regular pot with a parchment paper lid.  The longer you put on the heat, the more tender it gets, and the more the flavor intensifies.  So if you are planning on leaving it heated longer,remember to adjust the seasoning prior to cooking.

This is called Kakuni in Japanese.  It’s a staple at Japanese tapas places (izaka ya), great with beer with a bit of Japanese mustard on it, or with udon noodles with little bit of chopped green scallion.  You can slice it thinner and make a little sandwich adding a slice of cucumber and Sriracha, a la David Chang; chopped and put them in fried rice, ramen topping, etc…  My all time favorite is adding it to a bowl of white rice, with a soft boiled egg.  It’s pretty damn good!