Japanese pork pot roast 焼豚/煮豚

japanese cake
This is another favorite sino-Japanese dish, which I mentioned when I posted the Ramen noodle. I learned that the original Chinese version is called 叉焼  “Cha-siu” and the pork is indeed grilled. The Japanese version is essentially a pot roast. “Yakibuta” 焼豚 in Japanese means “grilled” pork as opposed to  “Nibuta” 煮豚 “simmered” pork. But Japanese use them almost interchangeably, although the words “Yakibuta” or “Chaashuu” チャーシュウ (adapted from the original Chinese pronunciation) are most commonly used for this dish. Even though the main mode of cooking occurs in a liquid, many recipes call for browning the surface (thus, justifying the name  “grilled pork” or “yakibuta”) before and/or after cooking in a liquid. As I mentioned in the Ramen post, this is by far the most common topping for ramen noodles but there are many other ways to serve up this dish. Here I simply sliced it and served it as h’or doeuvre.

My recipe has changed during the year but I gave up on searing the surface since it does not add that much and can dirty up the stove top. So my dish is indeed “Nibuta” or pork pot roast. The ingredients I used are shown below. Here I used pork loin but I suppose pork shoulder or butt can be also used. I trimmed the extra fat and silver skin and trussed it as seen below. Trussing, to me, is necessary to maintain the oval-round shape of the pork. Other ingredients include one scallion (I pound it lightly with the back of a knife), two thin slivers of ginger, three small cloves of garlic (smashed), about 10 black pepper corns, 1-2 star anise. Use of the star anise is optional but we definitely like to include this spice.

 

 

 

I marinate the pork in the mixture of soy sauce, mirin and sake (2:1:1 ratio) as seen below in a small sauce pan, in which the pork snuggly fits, for 1-2 hours. I turn the pork every 10-20 minutes. After marination, I add water (about the same amount as the marinade) so that the pork is just barely covered. Put “otoshi buta” 落とし蓋 or aluminum foil to loosely cover the meat. When the liquid boils, turned down the heat to a gentle simmer and cook it for about 20-30 minutes. I turn the pork over mid-way through cooking. After shutting off the flame, I put on a tightly fitting lid and let the pork cool in the liquid to room temperature, then take the meat out. I put the remaining marinade in the refrigerator. When it cools down, I skim off congealed fat on the surface and reduce it to the original (before adding the water) volume. This leftover marinade can be used as a sauce for the pork or to season other items, especially soft boiled eggs.

 

 

 

I sliced it and served this just as is with a small amount of the reduced marinade, celery salad, and tomato. Since I peeled the skin off the tomato using my knife (as oppose to blanching it), I made a small rose for my wife as decoration. This pork is mighty good. I could use this pork as I would use ham. We actually made sandwiches for lunch the next day. I’m hoping this will last until next weekend, so that I can make another example of ramen noodles…but at the rate it is going it may not last.

 

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