Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Recipe: Japanese-style Sweet Potato & Pork Belly Stew


While I have a menagerie of other tasks I should be accomplishing, Callie really loved this recipe so I figured I'd take a few minutes off from digging through photographs and unpacking my new studio to share it. It's loosely based on a drop-lid cooking technique I picked up making Harmui's version of gyudon in "Harumi's Japanese Cooking" but went in to crazy-land from there.

The quick version of drop-lid cooking is that you make a circle of aluminum foil the exact size of your pan, then place that onto the surface of simmering broth and other ingredients to quickly cook them with a combination of steam and boiling. In the case of this recipe, it means the sweet potatoes retain their shape while still being cooked through. I wouldn't call this health food, but it's rich broth is a very pleasant while storm clouds roll in during late-winter's attempts to fend off spring.

Japenese-style Sweet Potato and Pork Belly Stew

 Ingredients: 
3/4 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in to 1" chunks
1/2 lb pork belly, cut in to 1" chunks (skin removed if needed)
1 small white onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1" ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 block tofu (7-8 oz.) cut in to 1" cubes
2 tbs + 1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp + 1 tsp mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
1 tsp canola oil
2-3 tbs good quality miso (depending on how strong the flavor of your miso is), dissolved in 1/2 c. filtered water
more filtered water as needed
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

For the Garnish:
3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved
1/2 bunch green onions, green tops and light green parts only, thinly sliced
toasted sesame seeds

Cooking the Pork Belly:
1) Sautee pork belly for 3-4 minutes over medium heat until lightly browned.
2) Add 1 tbs soy and 1 tsp mirin and cook for 1 minute.
3) Add a pinch of salt and water to cover.
4) Cover the pan and simmer very very gently over low heat for 30 minutes.
5) When done, strain the broth through a fine sieve and retain the broth.
6) Crisp the pork belly over medium high heat in a small pan.
7) Set pork aside.

Making the Stew:
8) Heat the canola oil over medium heat and add the onions + a pinch of salt. Cook 4-5 minutes until they just start to soften.
9) Add ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute.
10) Mix in sweet potatoes and cook for 1 minute.
11) Add the reserved pork belly broth and enough additional water to comfortably house all of the bits of the stew.
12) Put a tinfoil drop lid on the liquid and turn the heat down to medium low, simmering for 5-6 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes aren't quite done.
13) Add the tofu, mirin, salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
14) Add the reserved pork belly and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes until the pork is heated through.
15) Serve in to boils and divide up the garnishes.

Serve with a side of steamed rice and glass of good shochu on the rocks.

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