Red Braised Pork Belly – Morimoto Kakuni (his faster version)

Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –

* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/morimoto-scallop-congee/

Over the last several weeks, I started getting a little stir crazy since I hadn’t been able to get a chance to try and make some new dishes.  Work pretty much had my attention  –  trying to get another product out the door.

…and then I ran across the following:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/experience/food-and-wine/2016/07/05/japanese-cooking-chef-masaharu-morimoto/86708852/

Recalling how I recently made Iron Chef Morimoto’s scallop congee that accompanied his 10 hour kakuni, I thought this 3-4 hour version would be wonderful alternative.  So I had to start by taking some time to translate the ingredients list translated to non-metric values. So the USA Today recipe listing ended up being:

1/2 slab pork belly (4 servings) – a half slab@Whole Foods turned out to be 7 lbs!
8 3/4 cups water
5.9 (6) cups sake
29.983 (30) ounce  sugar
1.875 cups soy sauce
4.058 teaspoon  dark soy sauce
5 3/4 Tablespoon scallion oil
0.529 ounce  scallions cut into 2-inch sticks
0.353 ounce ginger, skin on, sliced thinly
1.058 ounce  takatnosume (dried chili)
3 pieces (dry) Bay leaf

So a microbatch version turned out to be:

1/8 slab pork belly (2 servings) – ~1.5 lbs!
4 cups +6 T water
3 cups sake
15 ounce  sugar (it measured out to 426g by weight – just about 1/2 of the original recipe; this came out to 1 2/3 c of sugar – really?!?)
1/2 cup + 7 T soy sauce
2 teaspoon  dark soy sauce
5 3/4 Tablespoon scallion oil
1/4 ounce  scallions cut into 2-inch sticks (about 2 scallions)
0.353/2 ounce (~1 g) ginger, skin on, sliced thinly
1 T ounce  takatnosume (dried chili)
1 1/2 pieces (dry) Bay leaf

The video of the preparation process can be found here:

In the video, Iron Chef Morimoto begins the process by searing the pork belly using scallion oil.  He doesn’t so much as steam his pork belly as he ‘blanches’ it with some of the scallion and ginger (sounds like the beginning of making chinese chicken stock) for an hour.  At the end of that time, the pork belly is removed and cut into 40g squares (looks like 1″ thick slices from the video). To the blanching pot, he adds the rest of his seasonings to create a braising liquid for the pork belly.  The portioned pork belly is carefully stacked into an oven safe cooking pot which is then filled with the braising liquid to cook (submerged) in the oven for 4 hrs (he says 2-3 hours in the video) at 350 degrees F.

To begin the process, I really wanted to know what 15 oz of sugar looked like.

Weighing out 15oz of sugar

Weighing out 15oz of sugar – which turned out to be 1 2/3 cups

It turned out that 15oz was actually 426g which was pretty much 1/2 of the amount of sugar in the original recipe.  When I transferred the sugar to measuring cups – it turned out to be 1 2/3 cups.

beginning to build the braise

beginning to build the braise

So I began by building the braising liquid with water and sugar.

Measuring out the soy sauce base for the braise

Measuring out the soy sauce base for the braise

To the sugar and water, I added the soy sauce and the tamari (since I didn’t have dark soy sauce).

small sliver of ginger for the microbatch braise

small sliver of ginger for the microbatch braise

I needed to add a microbatch amount of ginger which was a bit more than 1g.

The blanching/poaching base for the pork belly (about 3 scallion stalks and 4 ginger slices)

The blanching/poaching base for the pork belly (about 3 scallion stalks and 4 ginger slices) in about 4 cups of water

As per Iron Chef Morimoto’s instruction, I had to also build a blanching/poaching liquid; and as near as I could tell from the video, I guesstimated that I was looking at 3 scallion stalks (cut into 2″ lengths) and 4 slices of ginger.  Hmm. That sounded like someone getting ready to make chinese chicken stock.

Searing the pork belly

Searing the pork belly

At this point, I was ready to actually start cooking and so I put 2 tablespoons of Morimoto’s scallion oil into a really hot pre-heated pan.  To that hot pan, I added the pork belly, fat side down. Once the fat side had gotten a good sear color, I seared all the rest of the sides of the pork belly.

Bringing the braise to a boil

Bringing the braise to a boil

While the pork belly was searing, the 3 cups of sake was added to the braising liquid which I then brought to a boil.  At the boil, I added the scallion and ginger from the recipe ingredient list.

Adding the rest of the braise seasonings

Adding the rest of the braise seasonings

Once the braising liquid came back to the boil, I added the gochugagu and the bay leaf and a half.

Pork belly pulled out of the blanching/poach after an hour

Pork belly pulled out of the blanching/poach after an hour

At the end of the hour of simmering/poaching the pork belly at just under 50% max heat, I transferred it to the cutting board.

Cutting the pork belly into ~1" wide pieces

Cutting the pork belly into ~1″ wide pieces

The size of the meat seemed a bit wide, so I made the decision to split it along the long axis. When I reviewed Iron Chef Morimoto  cutting the meat into 40g pieces, I guesstimated the width of the pieces was about 1″ wide, so that’s what I chose to do.

Going into the braise for the 3hr cooking process at 350 degrees F

Going into the braise for the 3hr cooking process at 350 degrees F

With the braise nice and warm and ready to go, I loaded in the pork belly, covered my pot and got it into a preheated 350 degree oven and let it cook for 3 hours.  While the pork belly was slowly cooking away, my wife volunteered to make garlic sauteed cabbage as a bed for the pork belly to be served.  And like the video, we put down a base of cooked cabbage and then the slices of pork belly on top.

Morimoto 'Momo-san Kakuni' on Garlic Sauteed Cabbage

Morimoto ‘Momo-san Kakuni’ on Garlic Sauteed Cabbage

Both my wife and I looked forward to tasting this offering from Iron Chef Morimoto.  My wife commented that she liked the idea of putting the pork belly to braise in the oven instead of having to worry about using a slow cooker all day (she disliked the idea of cooking a dish for 10 hours). As mentioned ealier, we served the portions of the pork belly over cabbage with a side of white rice.  It was a delicious dish and the pork was wonderfully tender.  My wife did comment that it reminded her of the Tainan version of a similar dish – a tad too sweet for her palate (as compared to the Taipei variant).  It’s interesting to note that Iron Chef Morimoto’s 10 hour Pork Kakuni (Morimoto: The New Art Of Japanese Cooking, p. 146) specifies 4 T soy sauce and 2 T sugar (about 2:1 ratio).  In this recipe, there is ~16 T soy sauce and ~34 T sugar (about 1:2 ratio).   I would have to wonder what would happen if I changed the soy/sugar ratio in this recipe to match the ratio from the 10 hour kakuni recipe.  I look forward to do this recipe again as the weather turns much cooler.  Iron Chef Morimoto, thank you for sharing this very accessible recipe. ありがとうございます!

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

, , ,

  1. Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: