What's the perfect dish to make for a high-profile couple? Pork belly, apparently.
Everyone loves bacon. This is an unequivocal fact. It cannot be denied.
Well, even if it's not true, bacon went through a huge cultural reckoning in America from about 2005–2015, and honestly I'm surprised that pork belly, the cut of meat bacon hails from, didn't become more popular as a result of that. The whole slab of pork is delicious – a pretty even distribution of fat to meat that lends itself well to crisping and slow cooking – bacon is just slices off the slab that have been cured for extra flavor.
Aoi, from Kakuriyo -Bed and Breakfast for Spirits-, clearly capitalizes on the flavor potential of pork with this stewed pork belly recipe. She makes the stewed meat for Tenjin-ya, the owner of the inn she works at in the spirit world. He calls her his Ogre Bride... she's not really about that. So, as a result, they have a cute relationship where she tries to pretend she doesn't like him like that, and he lets her pretend they're not going to end up together. And, in traditional couple fashion, she of course makes a bento box for him, as thanks for sharing bottled spring water and onsen tamago with her.
As a thank you, she wants to incorporate the items he gives her into this meal, which is cute and all, but as a professional anime food blogger, I kind of have to call foul on this whole idea. The dish itself is good and a well-known Japanese meal, but it's not normally made with onsen tamago and carbonated spring water. For one thing, onsen tamago are notable for their soft whites and gel-like yolk. The eggs in this stewed pork are clearly hard-boiled. Secondly, carbonation in water disappears when it becomes too hot, meaning that any carbonated spring water she adds to this dish will lose all impact as soon as it warms up. Like I said, cute idea, but in practice this dish doesn't totally make sense if she's trying to thank him for the gifts by using the same gifts.
In any case, she makes this dish again for a lord and his human wife, and it's so good it makes the human wife cry a little with nostalgia, as it reminds her of home! I thought this was just too cute, so decided to make this dish, in the bento box format, so that we, too, could experience a piece of the nostalgia the human wife was feeling. Ultimately this dish is really easy to make. You stew the pork for a few hours in water seasoned with ginger and onion, and then transfer it over to your braising liquid with very common Japanese seasoning – mirin, sake, dashi, and soy sauce. Give that time to let the flavors infuse with the pork, and voila – you've got an incredible meal!
I used Chinese broccoli as the vegetable here, but in the actual anime it looks as though she uses baby bok choy. Either would work, and both would be delicious. The great thing about this dish is that it is also easily made gluten free, if you substitute Tamari with regular soy sauce. The flavor is the same, and the dish is safe to eat if you can't have gluten.
Click to watch the video below to see the full process, get the answers to my burning questions, and to see the results of this little science experiment.
Ingredients for Stewed Pork Belly
(I was feeding 5, with a desire to have leftovers. If you are feeding less, I'd halve or even third the ingredients)
-3 lbs pork belly
-1 bunch green onions
-1 2-inch piece of ginger
-8 cups dashi
-3/4 cups sake
-1/2 cup mirin
-1/2 cup powdered sugar
-3/4 cup soy sauce
-6 boiled eggs
-1 daikon radish, about 10 inches long
-Soda water to finish
To Make the Stewed Pork Belly
1. Tenderize pork belly by using a tenderizer or heavy object to pound the pork belly. Separate the green part of the onion from the whites. Slice ginger.
2. Cut into two inch pieces, and then brown all sides in a heavy-bottomed frying pan heated to medium high heat.
3. Transfer pork into a stock pot, add in green parts of green onions, and half of sliced ginger. Cover with hot water, and simmer uncovered for two hours. Add more water in as needed.
4. After two hours, dry off pork and discard water, onions, and ginger. Add pork to dashi broth, along with sake and mirin. Bring to a simmer, and as it's heating add in the soy sauce, sugar, and the rest of the sliced ginger. Stir to combine, and simmer partially covered for another 30 minutes.
5. While simmering, boil and peel eggs. Slice daikon radish into quarters. Roughly chop greens.
6. After thirty minutes, remove the lid and add in the daikon and boiled eggs. Continue to simmer another 20 minutes.
7. After 20 minutes, stir in the chopped greens. Raise heat slightly, and keep the pot bubbling away until liquid is reduced and pork, eggs, and vegetables are nicely coated with the liquid. This took me about ten minutes, but it could take a bit longer.
8. Serve with rice, and enjoy hot!
I hope you enjoyed this post! Check in next week for another recipe. To check out more anime food recipes, visit my blog. If you have any questions or comments, leave them below! I recently got a Twitter, so you can follow me at @yumpenguinsnack if you would like, and DEFINITELY feel free to send me food requests! My Tumblr is yumpenguinsnacks.tumblr.com. Find me on Youtube for more video tutorials! Enjoy the food, and if you decide to recreate this dish, show me pics! :D
In case you missed it, check out our last dish: Hot Tub Tamago from "Kakuriyo-Bed and Breakfast for Spirits-". What other famous anime dishes would you like to see Emily make on COOKING WITH ANIME?