Pork kakuni with scallop congee
So I have the itch to blog again… and what better time than now, when it’s time to hash out those lovely winter recipes that have been sitting around the kitchen for months on end? The last time I made buta no kakuni was last Christmas; impatience and a loose hand with the soy sauce led to a sad and salty affair with rough meat. This time, I was going to bring out the big guns. Cue this excellent recipe I came across from Chubby Hubby‘s blog, which in turn comes from Masaharu Morimoto’s ‘The New Art of Japanese Cooking’. When I first came across it, it looked impossibly complicated – with a very long cooking time and lots of waiting about, I was turned off of the idea. But I decided the effort would be worth it, and took the plunge.
I didn’t take any photos during the process because (a) who said I was cooking this for purpose of blogging about it? (b) I wasn’t sure how successful it’d be. Well, here I am now, blogging about a very successful dish… and it has inspired me to blog more again!
I did, as I’m prone to do, make a few alterations. One was using ordinary white short grain rice in the initial braising process instead of brown – I just couldn’t be bothered to buy a pack of brown rice (weirdly expensive in Japan Centre) and I couldn’t find any information on what the effect would be, except that it ‘tenderises’ the meat – not sure what the difference is between brown and white rice, though. For the first part, I’m guessing the rice keeps the pork tender by ‘insulating’ it as it braises, protecting it from too much direct heat? Brown rice probably doesn’t break down as much as white in that time, therefore ‘protecting’ the pork for longer? Err, Heston, give us a hand…?
The initial braising process is 8 hours, but I cheated. I did it only for 4 – my pork belly was already sliced into strips when I bought them, so I figured it needed less time. I started at 8pm after work and couldn’t leave the oven on all night, either! Then it was left to rest, as Chubby Hubby did, in the oven overnight. The next night, the pork was removed from the thick rice mixture and, instead of wastefully discarding the rice as suggested, I bunged it into my rice cooker, added some chicken stock and the soaked dried scallops and made the congee that way! The rice, afterall, had soaked up so much flavour from the pork during that initial cooking process so it would have been silly to throw all that away.
So then the pork went on to be braised again for several hours with a mixture of soy sauce, sake, sugar and water, along with bamboo shoots and chunky pieces of daikon (my own additions, because I love the way they soak up the flavours of anything it is braised with). Result! The pork was already falling apart after the first cooking process and by the second it was meltingly tender. Gorgeous.
See that piece just falling off? ;)
I’d recommend anyone to give this recipe a shot. It may sound daunting at first, but you really do just leave it to do its own thing most of the time. Set it aside for a weekend when you’re home, shying away from the cold.
The full recipe can be found on Chubby Hubby’s blog. Remember not to throw the rice away! ;) Times like these you really can tell I’m of an Asian (or ‘Oriental’ as they say here) persuasion…
Oh, and I’m intending to do a few more posts that I’ve been meaning to do for ages. Yes, I am talking about Colombia! And I have also recently discovered an unfinished draft of a second Vienna post hidden in my dashboard. Oops. So, yeah. Stay tuned.