One of my weaknesses if you don’t already know, is pork belly, in it’s many forms. I bought some while shopping at the Korean grocery the other day. In the past I have braised it, roasted it, braised it again, so I figured it might be time to try something different. Perhaps something a little bit less heavy? I ended up trying a Japanese stew of sorts, cooking the meat along with Kabocha squash in dashi. Tasty it was, but less heavy it was not (it put Jenna in a food coma). A “light pork belly entree” just might be the biggest culinary oxymoron of them all.
Pork Belly and Kabocha Stew (serves 6-8)
2 Tablespoons canola oil
2-1/2 pounds pork belly, cut into 3-inch squares
3 slices of fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic
1 kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into large chunks
4 cups dashi
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pot. Add the pork belly pieces, skin side down and cook on medium-high heat until browned, about 8 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside. Remove all but a small amount of the oil from the pot. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for one minute. Add the squash and stir briefly. Return the pork belly to the pan, skin side up. Pour the dashi into the pot until it almost reaches the top of the pork belly pieces. Bring just to a boil, then transfer the pot to the oven. Cook for 2 hours, occasionally adding more liquid if it gets reduced too much. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 30 minutes in the liquid. Remove the pork and kabocha from the liquid. Slice each piece of pork into thin slices, and serve with the kabocha, using a small amount of the cooking liquid as a sauce or soup.