Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Stewed "Kakuni" Pork belly, the 3rd time is the charm 豚の角煮、三度目の正直!

As I mentioned, the new gourmet grocery store that recently opened near us has a much nicer meat section. To my delight, they had pork belly. I just had to try making this dish again with genuine pork belly. I have posted two previous attempts using salt pork and pork spare ribs. The pork spare rib version was better than the salt pork but finally I can try the "real McCoy" using pork belly.
As before I used this recipe by Atsushi Tsuchiya. I cut slightly more that one pound of pork belly (474 grams as seen below upper left) into 2 inch blocks. You can see how fatty the front portion of the belly meat is (below image upper right). I marinated it in soy sauce (4 tbs) (Image below lower left) for 10 minutes at room temperature. I then browned all sides of the pork in a sauce pan starting from the fatty side. I removed the meat and blotted the excess fat from the pan. I then put the meat and the remaining soy sauce from the marinade into the pan and turned the meat over to coat several times on medium low flame. I added sugar (20 grams) and sake (200 ml). After it simmered for 2-3 minutes and the alcohol evaporated, I added enough water to cover (about 200 ml) and covered the meat with hydrated kelp. I put a Piggy drop lid (otoshi buta) on the pan along with a regular lid (askew) and simmered it for 1 hour (below image lower right). I added more water as the liquid evaporated. I turned the meat over and simmered 2 more hours.

We tasted a little at this point--it was mighty good. I let it cool down to room temperature and then put it into the refrigerator. The next day, I removed the congealed fat from the surface and reheated.
I served it with blanched broccolini and thinly sliced scallion and a dab of Japanese hot mustard. The best part is the most fatty portion of the pork belly (you guessed it right!). It just melts in the mouth and is so sweet. The more meaty part is less tender. So for this dish, it is best to use pork belly and second best to use pork spare ribs. The only problem is that this is so incredibly good it must be lethal--so we should not be eating this too frequently. 

With this in mind we quickly and liberally self-medicated with red wine to counteract the effect of the pork fat. This was another vanilla-laden California Cab, Maxwell Creek Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. The sweetness of the pork fat combined with the fruit forward and vanilla-laden cab was sublime! We will go back to enjoying more "subtle" and "austere" wines but this was a fun wine to sip. It was especially fun sitting outside in the sun on the deck enjoying perfect spring weather consuming pure pork fat.

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