This is also one of the dishes that is in my list of “storing-in-the-freezer-food”. I’m not sure if I’ve talked about my habit of storing premade food on this blog? Anyway when I started moving out, I formed a habit where every time I go for a big grocery shopping at the start of the month for the whole month’s food (I usually buy all my proteins, portion and store them in the freezer, so that during the month I only have to buy vegetables and fruits), I will spend the first weekend to make a big batch of several dishes, divide them into boxes and store them in the freezer. Whenever I’m home late or I just feel lazy to cook I just have to take one out of the freezer, reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave and I’d have a nice hot meal in no time.
Back to this Japanese charshu pork. Actually I wanted to make char siu in the beginning, but all the char siu recipes require roasting the meat. I don’t have an oven at the moment, so after surfing our dear friend Google for a while I found out about Japanese charshu that only require simmering on the stovetop, I guess it can be considered a distant cousin of char siu. Looking at photos of those mouth-watering shiny and tender slices of meat, I decided to give it a go and was not disappointed at all. This meat is usually served in ramen in Japan, so I think it would go great with bread, noodles, or rice as well. The original recipe has sake and leek, I simplified it a bit to ingredients that would be easily found in Asian supermarkets everywhere, and I find it not much less tasty.
Công thức tiếng Việt: Thịt xá xíu kiểu Nhật
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 2 people
- 400g pork belly
- Salt, pepper
For the sauce
- 220ml water
- 130ml soy sauce
- 40g palm sugar
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
Note: you can replace palm sugar with brown or white sugar
1. Skin the pork belly, rub a bit of salt and pepper all over. Heat a tablespoon of oil on medium-high heat, sear the top and bottom of the meat until golden brown (around 3-5 minutes each side). Take the meat off the heat and let it drain off the excess fat. This frying will help sealing in the natural sweetness of the meat.
2. In this next step the Japanese will use a kitchen tool called otoshibuta – a wooden drop lid with a diameter that is slightly smaller than that of the pan, it can be dropped and snuggle fit inside the pan. This drop lid helps focusing and evenly distributing the heat on the ingredient and thus cook it even with little liquid, the lid also prevent the liquid from over boiling, as well as keeping the ingredient from moving around in the pan, helping it get cooked to a tender texture and prevent soft ingredients from breaking.
Source: Just One Cookbook
I don’t have a wooden oshibuta, so I layer some aluminium foil in the bottom of the pan to get the diameter and then fold it into a somewhat round shape, you can also use a lid of a smaller pot. Just remember to take one that is only slightly smaller than the pot used to simmer, for a too small lid would not do much.
Add the ingredients for the sauce in a big pot. When the meat is seared, add it into the pot with the sauce, heat on medium-high heat until the sauce boils then reduce to medium low heat. Drop in the otoshibuta (an authentic or a self-made one ), simmer for 1 hour until the sauce reduced to 1/3 compared to the beginning and slightly thickens. Turn the meat once in a while during the simmering process so the flavour is evenly distributed.
3. When the sauce is reduced and slightly thickened, remove the otoshibuta, continue to simmer and turn the meat until the sauce is thickened and you can see the bottom of the pan when you scrape it with the meat.
Take the meat out, let cool for 10 minutes and slice into thin slices. You can keep the sauce, it’s really tasty to use in other dishes or as dipping sauce.
Tender and flavourful Japanese charshu, delicious even served only with rice and pickled mustard cabbage.
I just want to ‘show off’ my instant noodles meal the other day when I was in my lazy mood. A few slices of Japanese charshu, some pickled mustard cabbage, and a soft-boiled egg, it looks a bit ‘chaotic’ but I can guarantee you that it’s delicious!