I have made chashu (チャーシュー) the way most Japanese ladies make them quite often as the kids love it. I normally use pork belly and then roll the whole thing and then cook that in a sauce of soya sauce, mirin, sake, rock sugar, ginger and onions. But I thought we can improve on it.
The skin is not the favourite part of the chashu, especially by Western palette. I do love that slimy feel of that skin and the lard is often delicious boiled, too. But that’s quite an acquired taste and people who are less ‘trained’ would still prefer some crunch.
And so for the soba dish, the crunch element will come from the pork skin, and pork croutons made from the lard. And the chashu is still delicious and yummy minus the lard and skin. This is an idea borrowed from Singaporean noodles, which tend to have these pork croutons. The pork crackling is an idea from Thai and also westerners.
This recipe is wonderful, the sauce is a nice break from the usual soba sauce, served as a gravy rather than a broth. Since it uses the standard Japanese sauce base, it is distinguishly Japanese. It should be well-loved once you’ve made it, and probably will make it again and again.
2 servings of soba, cooked according to instructions, and cooled in ice
1/2 thumb size ginger, grated
1 bunch of spinach
2 eggs at room temperature, cooked in boiling water for 7 minutes
Finely sliced green onions
200g pork belly
1 big onion
1 thumb sized rock sugar
A few slices of ginger
Base sauce from below
1/2 cup of water
1 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp mirin
3 Tbsp soya sauce
1 Tbsp sake
- Slice as closely to the skin as possible, and obtain the pork skin from the pork belly.
- Score the skin and season with salt.
- I used the contact grill to grill it till crispy.
- Slice off the fat that is under the skin from the pork belly, and then into cubes.
- Season with salt.
- Fry them in a tablespoon of cooking oil on low heat until completely golden brown and crunchy.
- Place all the ingredients for the chashu under just covering the pork belly into a pressure cooker.
- Cook the belly on high pressure for 20 minutes.
- Slice into thin slices when done.
- Boil a pot of water with a good handful of salt.
- Put the spinach in, and remove the moment the vegetable wilt.
- Drain off all water
- Half the base sauce, and add the ginger, thinly sliced green onions and 3 Tbsp of water from cooking the noodles to dilute
- Take a portion of the noodles, then top with all the ingredients.
- Add the sauce and toss everything up.