Ingredients

800g pork belly, cut into 3cm cubes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons caster sugar
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3cm piece of ginger, finely sliced
3 spring onions, green parts only
125ml (½ cup) saké
80ml (⅓ cup) soy sauce
1 star anise
1 daikon, peeled, halved lengthwise, then cut into 2cm-thick slices
4 soft-boiled eggs, peeled
Buta no kakuni, or braised pork, is, I think, one of the most comforting winter dishes. It was a complete revelation when my husband, Nori, cooked this for me for the first time – the flavours and textures were something I had never experienced before. I watched in awe as he trimmed the sharp edges of the daikon to make them slightly rounded – so it would cook evenly. Feel free to do this, but it is by no means a make-or-break step. There are a few other tricks to make a great buta no kakuni – blanching the pork to remove impurities, and making a caramel to coat the pork, but overall, this dish is very quick to prepare. The pork and daikon gently simmer, absorbing all of the wonderful flavours, and later, soft-boiled eggs are added. It is best left to sit in the fridge for several hours after making. The excess fat will solidify and can then be scraped off for a lighter, more pure braise before being reheated. We eat this simply with wilted greens and steamed rice.

Instructions

1.Place the pork in a large saucapan and cover with cold water.
2.Bring to the boil over a high heat.
3.As soon as the water begins to boil, drain and set the pork aside.
4.Heat a large heavy-based frying pan or cast-iron pot over a high heat and pour in the olive oil.
5.Add the pork belly and fry for 1–2 minutes on each side until golden.
6.Remove the pork, then add the sugar and 3 tablespoons of water (be careful as it will spit a little).
7.Simmer for 5–7 minutes, stirring to dissolve the sugar, until you have a deep amber–coloured caramel.
8.Return the pork to the pan and stir to coat, then add the garlic, ginger, spring onion, saké, soy sauce, star anise, daikon and 750ml (3 cups) of water.
9.Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 1–1½hours until the pork is tender.
10.Nestle the eggs in the pan among the pork and daikon and continue to cook for another 10 minutes.

An edited extract from A Year of Simple Family Food by Julia Busuttil Nishimura.

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