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Friday, July 24, 2009

Buta no Kakuni

Buta no kakuni is Japanese braised pork belly. Since Japanese food is considered healthy (we do have the longest average life expectancy in the world) and bacon is made from pork belly, this is the healthy version of bacon. Yay! Healthy bacon! I'll keep telling myself that! I usually make enough so that I can freeze enough for when I want a small portion for my ramen.

On to the recipe ... So let me be honest, I rarely measure anything when I cook. This is just my disclaimer. I will list the ingredients with approximate volumes, but just go by taste. Besides, you might not even like my cooking since all most of you guys are seeing are pictures but have never tasted my cooking. Btw, this is a recipe using a pressure cooker. You can simmer it slowly over the stove, but I don't have any idea how long it will take to cook, maybe 2 hours or so?

Recipe for Buta no Kakuni (Simmered Pork Belly)

1 package Pork Belly (about 2 lbs)
Thumb sized chunk of ginger, unpeeled, but smashed slightly under knife
2 cloves of garlic, smashed under knife
1 Leek, cleaned of all sand and cut into 3 chunks
1/2 c Soy Sauce
1/4 c Cooking Sake
1/4 c Mirin
1/4 c Sugar
2T vinegar

Cut the pork belly into 2 inch cubes. Rinse the pork under cool water. Place the pork belly into a large pot with water filled until its covering the pork. Bring this to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer for 15 minutes. Skim any of the foam that floats to the top. Drain the pork in a colander and rinse with cool water to rid the pork of any coagulated foam, yuck!

Brown the each pork belly piece on all sides in some oil over medium heat. (This is optional, I was being lazy and didn't do this for the pork belly pictured above. Its suppose to taste better and it keeps it from falling apart as easily.) Place the browned pork belly pieces and all the remaining ingredients into the pressure cooker and cover with water until almost all pieces are covered. The cooking liquid should be pretty dark in color. Taste the cooking liquid (the pork is already cooked so it should be safe), make sure it is salty enough with a touch of sweetness. If not, add more soy sauce and/or sugar. Bring to high pressure and cook for 15 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. The meat should be pork tender, but not falling apart. If it is not ready, cook it a bit longer. If you like hard boiled eggs in the kakuni, after the pressure is released, place peeled hard boiled eggs into the cooking liquid and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the ginger, garlic cloves, and leeks, do not eat, it was only to flavor the liquid and pork.

Eat with a squeeze of lemon (this cuts the fatty taste) and karashi (Japanse mustard). The kakuni tastes even better if left overnight to absorb more of the sauce. If you make alot, freeze aliquots of 2 or 3 pieces of pork wrapped in saran wrap to use in ramen.


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