Ginger, sake, cinnamon and star anise give this modern Japanese dish a deliciously fragrant aroma. Chef Kenji Ito prepares this dish over three days, but to simplify this for homecooks, we’ve reduced the cooking time to four hours. You will still need to start this recipe a day ahead. 

Serves
6

Preparation

20min

Cooking

4hr
20min

Skill level

Mid
By
Average: 3 (34 votes)
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Ingredients

  • 1 kg pork belly, rind removed, cut into 7 cm-wide pieces
  • 200 g (1 cup) white rice
  • 250 ml (1 cup) cooking sake
  • 250 ml (1 cup) mirin
  • 5 cm piece ginger, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 3 spring onions
  • 110 g (½ cup) caster sugar
  • 125 ml (½ cup) Japanese soy sauce
  • baby rocket (optional) and Japanese mustard (see Note), to serve

Soy-simmered pumpkin (kabocha nimono)

  • 300 g Japanese pumpkin, peeled, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 litre dashi stock (see Note)
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) mirin
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) cooking sake
  • 110 g (½ cup) caster sugar
  • 150 ml salt-reduced soy sauce

Soy-simmered eggplant (nasu nimono)

  • vegetable oil, to deep-fry
  • 8 Lebanese eggplants, trimmed
  • 1 litre dashi stock (see Note)
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) mirin
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) cooking sake
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 125 ml (½ cup) salt-reduced soy sauce

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Drink 2010 d’Arenberg Stump Jump Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre, McLaren Vale ($10).

Chilling time overnight

You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.

Place pork in a stockpot with rice, cover with water and bring to the boil. Remove pork, discard water and rice, and rinse pork. Return to pan with 2.4 litres water, sake, mirin, ginger, garlic, star anise, cinnamon and spring onions. Place a plate on top to ensure pork stays submerged. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 hours.

Stir in sugar and simmer for a further hour. Stir in soy sauce and simmer for another hour or until pork is meltingly tender. Set aside to cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.

To make soy pumpkin, place pumpkin in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until almost tender. Drain, then return to the pan with dashi stock, mirin and sake, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in sugar and soy sauce, and simmer for a further 5 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Cool in liquid and set aside.

Meanwhile, to make soy eggplant, fill a deep-fryer or saucepan one-third full with oil and heat over medium heat to 180°C (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 10 seconds). Drop eggplants into oil and fry for 3 minutes or until almost tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of hot water for 2 minutes. Drain well, then set aside.

Place dashi, mirin, sake, sugar and soy sauce in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add eggplants, reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes or until eggplants are tender. Cool in liquid and set aside.

Warm through the pork and cooking liquid, and place pork into bowls with pumpkin, eggplant and a little of the pork cooking liquid. Scatter with rocket, if using, and serve with Japanese mustard.

 

Note
• Japanese mustard is sold in tubes at Asian food shops. Substitute hot English mustard.
• See dashi stock recipe or dissolve 1 tbsp (20 g) dashi granules in 1 litre water.

 

As seen in Feast magazine, Mar 2012, Issue 7. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.

Photography by Scout Edwards (Whitewall).