Thursday, July 2, 2015

Simmered Pork Belly with Daikon

Most women [generally] get excited when they walk past a shoe shop or designer clothing store, especially when the word "Sale" is flashing everywhere. I don't think I fall in the "most women" category. I do believe in retail therapy as a form of stress relief or pick-me-up when things are looking down, but not when that designer jacket staring at you through the window has more zeroes than you'll ever see on your weekly paycheck. The only time my eyes light up with excitement while shopping is when I walk past the butcher (no, of course I'm not excited AT the butcher!), and then I'd stop to admire the different cuts of meats on display. That's my idea of window shopping. I enjoy browsing through the supermarket aisles or checking out the seasonal produce at the fruit and vegetable market.

I particularly find Korean (and Asian) supermarkets fascinating and I make it a point to go every weekend. From kimchee to frozen dumplings, quirky snacks to an array of teas and seaweed, there's always the temptation to fill the trolley with something new. Daikon (white radish) is commonly used in Korean cooking, and there's always a mountain of big, fat and beautiful radishes on display at the entrance of the supermarket. At three dollars a piece, I couldn't help but buy one. I was thinking of using it to make either steamed radish cake or a pork belly stew (Japanese style). I decided on the latter as the kids love this dish (and once, they even thought the radish tasted like potato), and it's easy to prepare with few ingredients. Winter is all about keeping warm and cozy with comfort food, just like this one.

Simmered Pork Belly with Daikon


3-4 cups water
900g (2 lb) pork belly, cut into 1.5 inch cubes
1/2 inch ginger, sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
3 scallions (white part only)
1 tsp salt or to taste
700g (1 1/2 lb) daikon (white radish), cut into 1.5 inch cubes
5 hard-boiled eggs

1/2 cup sake
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp mirin


  1. Bring water to the boil in a medium pot. Add the pork, ginger, garlic and scallions and boil for 10 minutes. Skim off the scum that floats to the top. Lower the heat and simmer (covered) for 2 hours until tender.
  2. Remove the lid and add the sake. Bring to a boil and let the alcohol evaporate (about 5 minutes). Then stir in the soy, sugar and mirin. Place the daikon pieces over the pork and spoon some of the sauce over the daikon, turning the daikon over occasionally so that it's evenly coated with the sauce. Cover with the lid and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and bring to a boil and let the sauce reduce slightly (about 30 minutes) until it looks glossy. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Skim off any excess fat or scum floating on top.
  3. Turn off the heat and add the eggs. Let eggs soak in the sauce for half hour to absorb the flavours. Reheat gently before serving with steamed white rice.