Chashu

Happy Year of the Monkey everyone! Being away from home, festivities are not on the same scale but I do try to bring a similar sense of warmth and cheeriness to my little flat. Friends M and J came over for a meal and contributed fantastic fried rice and stirfried seafood udon whilst I made sweet and sour fish, oatmeal prawns, mixed vegetables and this amazing chashu. I stumbled across this website when searching for a recipe for sake beef udon and got totally lost in its pages of well-written text and descriptive photos.

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Chashu is the Japanese version of the Chinese char siu which is braised instead of roasted. This pork belly is so tender and scrumptious and moreish it’s too bad I only made this much! To improve the flavour,  cook it one or two days before and wrap it up so the flavour absorbs into the meat. Feel free to double up the recipe, any leftovers can be slipped into a soft white Taiwanese bun and eaten with the sauce with some sliced spring onions. Anyway, here’s my version of it:

Chashu

400g pork belly
Salt
1/2 tbsp oil
3 spring onions, sliced into 2 inch lengths
2 inch ginger, sliced

Seasoning
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup sake
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp sugar

  1. Heat a wok over moderate high heat. Rub some salt on the pork belly. Heat the oil in the wok until it’s smoking and sear the pork belly until golden brown on all sides.
  2. Put all the seasoning ingredients into a pot and add in the ginger, spring onions and seared pork.
  3. Instead of using a normal lid, fold up some aluminium foil into a circle to fit snugly in the pot and lay it directly on the pork. This is a substitute for otoshibuta which is made out of wood – they are used in Japanese cuisine to allow even heat distribution and the steam to baste the food without stirring.
  4. Lower the heat to medium low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, turning the pork over occasionally until the liquid has reduced to 1/4 inch depth and becomes thick and glossy. I find placing the pot cover on with the foil still inside for the last 15 minutes caramelises the sauce really well.
  5.  If not eating straightaway, cool and store the pork and sauce in a sandwich bag or do as I did and wrap it all up in cling film and then a layer of foil and refrigerate it.

I hope your New Year’s celebrations are filled with happiness and laughter and lots of good food and drink with loved ones!

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