Japanese style Braised Pork with Apples

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There are tons of things I’ve learned since I came here in the US.  First of all,

English, of course!!   

I am still working on it, but I don’t see any progress sadly.  I would like to say once again here that I am sorry if I use wrong words or expressions in my blog.  Besides of language, I’ve been  learning American culture.  When I used to live in Japan 15 years ago, we celebrated Christmas as well (not the same way as here though), but we didn’t have Halloween nor Easter, so they looked so new and fun for me.  Now even in Japan they do celebrate Halloween and Easter.

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One Thanksgiving dinner at my home

I didn’t know Thanksgiving 15 years ago.   I still remember we went out for lunch on that special day and every restaurant was closed but Korean BBQ place, so we ended up with eating Kimuchi and BBQ.  Later I knew Thanksgiving means TURKEY and CRANBERRY.  Yes, cranberry.

In Japan we have many kinds of fruits, but we don’t have a culture to use those often for cooking.  When I first experienced turkey with cranberry sauce, to be honest, I thought

NO WAY!

However now I can’t eat turkey without cranberry sauce.  I am so American!

 

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Brazilian feijyoada with oranges

Thanks to American culture, I learned that cooking with fruits enhances flavor of meals, and often it plays a big role as a tenderizer for  meat.  Now I love using fruits for our dinner.  Especially apples and oranges.

Now I know pork  goes well especially with apples.  I often braise pork with apples.  Well then, I have to take advantage my situation of my knowing two cooking cultures.  I have to apply that for Japanese dish!

Today I would like to introduce a very easy but delicious pork dish.

Here is the ingredients for today’s dish!

  • 2-3 lbs pork butt
  • 2 apples (preferably organic and sweeter variety such as fuji)
  • about 5 Tbs of soy sauce 
  • 2 Tbs of sugar   (I use brown sugar.)
  • about 1 cup sake
  • 2-3 dashi packs
  • oil

Yes, as you can see, ingredients are very simple.  Among those, the important ingredient as pork is dashi packs. They make this dish Japanese.  I bet some of you don’t know what dashi pack is.

First of all, dashi is a Japanese  stock we take from bonito, dried sardine, or kombu.  It has Umami flavor.

These days we have a convenient package which contains those UMAMI  flakes in a bag.   You can just put this in water and use it.  There are many dashi-pack brands, but my favorite brand is KAYANOYA.  Recently  I found out we could buy this package here in the US!    Here is their online site!   If you have a chance to order it, please make miso-soup with this package at first!  I think you could enjoy better miso-soup than in some Japanese restaurants.  I highly recommend this products.

Now I have this packages in my hand, so why not using them for good UMAMI flavor?  Actually this recipe was introduced in their Japanese site.

I have never thought using apples for typical Japanese foods, so when I saw this recipe, it was an eye-opener.

OK! let’s try it!

If you have organic apples, just core them and leave their skins on.  Cut into 8 slices.  I didn’t  have organic apples in my hand sadly, I peeled them.

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Tie the pork with string for keeping its shape.

 

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Heat the oil in the pan and brown it all sides.

 

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Put the apples and,,,,

 

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2 dashi packs, 2 cups of water, sake, soy sauce, and sugar in the pan.  If you like strong flavor, you could increase the amount of soy sauce here.

 

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Once it boils, turn the heat  low.   If you think you need more liquid to cover the pork, go ahead adding water.

 

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Put the lid on and cook at least for one hour until the pork gets tender.  I think I cooked for about 1 and half hour.

 

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That’s it!  How simple is that!

Japanese food tends to be sweet, so if you use sweeter apples, it becomes more like Japanese.  Since I use Granny Smith, mine has a sour taste, which was also good, though.

In this dish, apple flavor didn’t overwhelm  and merged really well with other ingredients.  If you leave the skin on, apples keep their shape better, so you can also enjoy them as well as pork.

 

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Pork gets tender because of slow cook and enzymes of apples.

 

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You can put boiled eggs at the end and cool them in the soup for a few days.  Those eggs are also so good!

 

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This pork is very versatile, so you can put it on Ramen as well!

Again I have to take advantage more of my situation.  I know two wonderful cultures, so I need to make fusion more!

By the way, I heard that they  have Black Friday in Japan even though they don’t have Thanksgiving,,,,,

Interesting fusion culture,,,,.

 

 

 

The Easiest Eggplant Dish Ever!

 

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I came to the US 15 years ago, and it was my first experience to live in a foreign country.  Sorry to say this, but I thought people in the US only had hamburgers, pizza, and hot dogs.  When I saw people eating SUSHI rolls with chopsticks, I was so surprised and impressed.  Now we have more varieties of international foods here and we can find any ethnic vegetables or condiments in most of grocery stores.  By the way I thought  familiar vegetables for me such as green onions, ginger, and okra all belonged to Japan.  It was several years later I found out okra is originated in Africa!  Eggplant is one of vegetables which I though is JAPANESE.

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People here make Eggplant parmesan and baba ganoush and more.  In Japan as well there are many eggplant dishes.  We often saute or steam them.  We pickle them.  Eggplant doesn’t  have strong flavor, that is why they are very versatile, I think.

One of my favorite ways to cook them is a saute/steam method.  After burning it on the pan, put a lid on and steam it.  It is so easy and you could put anything adds-on  depending on your favor.

Now I would like to introduce how to do that even though there are not so many processes.

Here are the ingredients example.

  • 1 eggplant halved
  • vegetable oil
  • daikon radish, finely grated
  • UMEBOSHI ( more about UMEBOSHI is here!)
  • green onion, chopped
  • lime
  • bonito flakes
  • soba tsuyu (dipping sauce for soba noodle)

Then let’s cook!

1.Wash eggplant well, and using paring knife (I used a knife for grapefruit! This works so well!), run it along the inside of the skin. (not cut through!).  Then make a square-cut inside the line.

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2.Heat the pan and add vegetable oil.  Put a half of the eggplant cut side down (if you make two of them at once, you could put two together.)  Saute in medium heat for about 3- 4 minutes until it gets burned-markings.

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3.Flip it and put a lid on and keep cooking for about 7-8 minutes. (This is a steeming process. Since eggplant has lots of water in it, you don’t need to add liquid here.)

THAT’S IT!

You get soft juicy, but not too mushy eggplant.  Now you could put anything on it.

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I put grated daikon radish, bonito flakes, green onion, along with a huge UMEBOSHI, a pickled plum.  Then I poured soba tsuyu on top.

I know it is a bit hard to find bonito flakes, Umeboshi and soba tsuyu, so you could just use grated daikon radish and soy sauce!  You may want to have citrus flavor, so use lime or lemon.

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This is so good.  My husband loves this.  He doesn’t know how easy it is to make this dish!

That is the best part!

Enjoy!