Eat Drink Style On the Road to Japan #3: Mmm, Junk-in-the-Trunk

Again, I’m doing my take on a great dish I had at Musha’s: Braised Pork Belly. Although it tasted nothing like Musha’s, it was still tasty. I went to 99 Ranch Market this past weekend and checked out the meat section. The pork belly was waaaaaaayyyyy too fatty and I just wasn’t in the mood to eat bacon, so I asked the butcher what he thought about pork shoulder vs. pork butt.

Me: (in Cantonese) “What’s the best piece of meat for braising?”
Butcher: (in Cantonese) “I like the butt. Butt is really goohr! Numma one!”

I kinda wish I heard him say that out loud in English. Most people wouldn’t have known that we were talking about a part of the pig. Anyway, I bought 1.5 lbs of this junk-in-the-trunk for like $4.

Party time:

(1) When braising any kind of meat, it’s always good to start off by searing/browning as much of the meat as possible. You’ll want to render out some of the flavorful fat and seal in the rest of the juices. Tie the pork piece with twine so that it stays intact during the braising process. If you don’t, the meat will fall apart and you’ll get a thumbs down for presentation. Salt and pepper the meat and sear on high heat till you get a nice brown color.
(2) Add 3-4 cloves of smashed garlic and two thumb-sized knobs of ginger (sliced) and sauté for a minute. Add 1 cup of Sake or Mirin and 1 cup of Chinese Shao Xing rice wine. Once the alcohol has evaporated, add about 7-8 drops of dark soy sauce to give the meat a nice color and about 1-2 cups of regular soy sauce for flavoring. Add water into the pot until the pork is submerged in the braising liquid. Use sugar to balance out the salinity, and add more for sweetness. You might even want to try some honey. This dish is typically sweet and the addition of one piece of Star Anise gives the pork a nice cinnamon-like taste.
(3) Bring this all to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer for about 2-3 hours with the pot almost completely covered by the lid. You can also do this in a Dutch oven and throw it in the oven for about 1.5 hours. Just make sure that you baste the meat with the liquid every 20 minutes to prevent the meat from burning.
(4) This dish was served with a marinated egg. To do this, just boil as many eggs as you like in a separate pot for about 10 minutes. Take them out and put them under running water to stop the cooking process. The eggs will think they’re under a nice waterfall in Maui. Remove the shells and throw them in the pot for at least 45 minutes.
(5) Serve the pork radish sprouts, red ginger and braising liquid. Mustard goes well with this dish. Just buy some mustard powder and mix it with water until you get a nice thick consistency. Enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

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