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Sake Braised Pork Belly

Makes 6 servings

The cooking in milk, cooling as well as the final simmering process of sake, sugar, then soy is very unique to Japanese cooking, creating flavor-permeated meat. While the recipe has a couple of steps, it can be completed while you’re doing other things. It keeps well and is even better the next day.

3 lbs. (1.5 kg) boneless pork belly
2 Tbsp. (30 mL) vegetable oil
1 cup (250 mL) milk
3 1/2 oz. (100 g) fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups (625 mL) chicken stock
3/4 cup (180 mL) sake
2 Tbsp. (30 mL) sugar
4 Tbsp. (60 mL) soy sauce
4 green onions

Cut the pork into 1 1/2-inch cubes. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok and stir-fry the pork in batches until lightly browned. Transfer the pork to a colander and pour boiling water over the pork to remove the oil.

Transfer the pork to a large pot. Add the milk, half of the sliced ginger and enough water to comfortably cover the pork. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered for 40 minutes.

Remove from the heat and still partially covered with a lid, let a very thin stream of cold tap water pour into the pot to cool the pork. Let the water trickle into the pork for 20 minutes. Drain the pork and remove the ginger.

Return the pork to the pot and add the remaining ginger, chicken stock and sake. Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer, partially covered with a lid. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the sugar and cook for 15 minutes longer. Add the soy and cook for 5 minutes. Cut the green onions into 1-inch pieces, add to the pot and simmer for 2 minutes longer.

Chef Karen Barnaby has helped shape the evolving face of the Vancouver food scene with her extensive work in the city's kitchens and food media.
 She has been executive chef at the acclaimed Fish House restaurant since 1995.
 
Karen is a regular food columnist for the Vancouver Sun and is the author of several cookbooks. She is also currently working with Intercity Packers as our featured chef.