When the weather gets hot and sticky, I try to minimize my time in the kitchen, even if there is air conditioning. That often means that I like to prepare a large amount of meat that can be sliced up and conveniently used in several meals.
This nibuta (simmered pork) fits the bill perfectly. Umeboshi (pickled plums), a classic summer flavor, are added to the simmering liquid. They impart a subtle flavor and also help make the pork really tender. The simmered pork is very versatile and can be used as you’d use chāshū pork — as a topping for ramen and hiyashi chūka (cold Chinese-style noodles) or chopped up and put into fried rice, salads, sandwiches and more.
I recommend using a cut of meat that’s sold as rōsuto (roast), which comes from the shoulder or back. You can also use pork belly, but the results will be rather fatty, although still quite tasty. I’ve also included instructions for an ume plum dressing that’s perfect for a salad featuring this sliced pork.
Serves 2, with lots of leftover pork
Prep: 20 mins.; cook: 90 mins., plus time to chill the pork
• Kitchen twine
For the simmered pork:
• 1 kilogram pork roast or pork belly
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 1 leek, chopped into 5-centimeter pieces
• 1 large piece ginger, sliced
• 175 milliliters soy sauce
• 2 umeboshi
• 75 milliliters mirin (sweet, fermented cooking alcohol)
• 75 milliliters sake
• 70 grams sugar
For the dressing:
• The 2 umeboshi used to cook the pork
• 1 fresh umeboshi
• 1 tablespoon of the pork cooking liquid
• 1 teaspoon honey
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 teaspoon soy sauce
• Black pepper
For the salad:
• 2 small or 1 large cucumber
• ½ medium onion
• Green shiso (perilla) leaves
1. Tie up the meat into a neat bundle with the kitchen twine. Heat up the oil in a large, heavy pot and brown the meat on all sides.
2. Add enough water to come up to about 2-centimeters higher than the top of the meat. Bring to a boil and skim off any scum.
3. Add the rest of the simmered pork ingredients to the pot. Bring to a boil again and lower the heat to a simmer. Place a lid partially covering the pot and simmer for 90 minutes. Check and turn the pork occasionally, adding more water if it boils down too much.
4. Take the pot off the heat and leave until cooled down to room temperature. Refrigerate the pork for several hours or overnight.
5. Skim off any fat that has congealed on top of the cooking liquid. The pork can be stored in or out of the liquid for up to four days in the refrigerator. You can slice it up and freeze it for up to a month. The cooking liquid can be used in soups.
6. To make the salad: Slice the cucumber and onion very thinly and sprinkle with a little salt. Squeeze out tightly to eliminate extra moisture. Shred the shiso leaves.
7. Pit and chop up the umeboshi plums into a paste. Combine with the other dressing ingredients.
8. Arrange the cucumber and onion on plates and top with several slices of the pork. Drizzle on the dressing, and sprinkle with the shiso leaves.
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