Japanese Braised Pork Belly (Buta no Kakuni)
Makes 3 servings
Recipes Notes: The meat is first simmered in a whole piece, and then cut into chunks before simmering for a second time. The meat will shrink down if cut prior to the first round of simmering.
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/4 pounds pork belly
1 1/2-inch knob fresh ginger
3 cups dashi (sea stock)
1/4 cup mirin
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1. Heat the canola oil in a fry pan over high heat. Put the pork belly in the fry pan, fat side down, and sear until brown. Once browned, turn the pork belly over and quickly cook all six surfaces until browned.
2. Once all of the surfaces have been browned, put the pork belly in a stock pot and cover with warm water. Cut the green part of the leeks into two pieces, and then cut each piece in half. Reserve the white portions of the leeks to use for garnish. Peel the ginger and then cut the ginger into thick slices. Add the leeks and ginger to the stock pot with the pork belly and place the pot over high heat.
3. Once the water has come to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the meat with a drop-lid (otoshibuta). Simmer the pork belly for 2 hours. Skim off any fat that floats to the surface of the water during cooking.
4. After simmering, move the pot to the sink and run cool water over the pot (keeping the drop-lid on), to cool the meat.
5. Cut the cooled pork belly into 2-inch chunks. Lightly wipe any liquid off of the meat with a cloth. Discard the leeks and ginger.
6. Clean the stock pot, then put the dashi, mirin, and sugar in the cleaned pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the cubed pork belly and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer the pork until it is soft enough for a bamboo skewer to pierce the meat smoothly, and then the meat drops from the skewer when lifted, approximately 20 minutes. Remove any fat that rises to the surface while cooking.
7. Add 3 tablespoons of the soy sauce. Cover the pork again with the drop-lid and simmer until the pork is tender and the sauce has reduced (approximately 30 minutes), then remove the drop-lid and continue simmering until the sauce thickens (approximately 25 minutes).
8. Add more of the remaining soy sauce as needed. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Place the meat, along with the sauce, in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator overnight. The meat can be eaten right away, but is even better when you let the flavors develop overnight. To serve, gently warm the meat and sauce and serve with the reserved whites of the leeks, cut into thin matchsticks.