I recently had an amazing Kakuni, a Japanese pork belly dish at Maekawa in the International District and decided that I would try to make one myself. I also wanted to try to make yakionigiri, since I had been quite successful a while back at make onigiri (rice balls, I stuffed mine with smoked salmon and took them on a camping trip. Shown above is my full plate when I was done. Clockwise from the upper left you see the two hard boiled eggs, which stewed with the pork belly, the failed yakionigiri, the pork belly skin up, the hot mustard, the pork belly skin down, and the chinese broccoli.
I don’t have my exact recipes, but the yakionigiri I think didn’t hold together because I used fresh rice, but basically I just took rice and molded it into balls, then broiled it in the toaster oven, painting it with soy sauce and mirin mixture every couple minutes.
The pork belly I seared on all sides then braised in water for two hours, then added a cup of soy sauce, a little mirin, some spicy peppers, ginger and the eggs, then braised for about another hour. It still was not as tender as the one at Maekawa (which, at $5 was about the same price), but it was fairly tasty and pork belly is such a forgiving meat, as long as you braise it, it will taste great. The chinese broccoli I simply seared and then threw in with the pork belly at the last minute. It was inspred by a recent Tea Garden dim sum where I had the worst chinese broccoli ever. I needed to remind myself how good it really was.
The whole meal worked really well together and reminded me that what restaurants do is not always that much harder than what you do in the kitchen.