Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chinese-style Braised Pork Belly Sushi

Sushi? Yum...
Braised pork belly? Drool...
Put the two together? Hell yeah!
I'd like to think that this was an original idea of mine but I'm sure someone out there has already beaten me to it. Anyway, this is how I imagined what food would look like when you fuse Chinese with Japanese cuisine. The melt-in-your-mouth pork belly that's braised using a traditional soy-based Chinese recipe (dong po pork), combined with the simple elegance of the sushi roll creates an interesting meld of flavors and textures.

Sushi is one of those things that look deceivingly challenging to prepare but is actually really easy and quick. It's one of my favorite things to make at home when I want something light and healthy. I actually prefer to make it myself because I dont normally eat raw fish and I usually make the Korean version - kimbap - using kimchi, eggs, avocado and imitation crab meat as the filling (I don't really know what the difference is between Korean kimbap and Japanese sushi - I just prefer to call mine kimbap because kimchi is a distinctly Korean ingredient). All you need is a sushi mat, a few sheets of nori, sushi-grade rice, rice wine vinegar and your choice of filling and you're good to go. If you've never made sushi/kimbap before, here's a good instructional video from Maangchi: http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/kimbap.

I first braised the pork belly ahead of time so that I can get rid of the excess fat that floats to the surface of the braising liquid when it cools. Here's how I cooked the pork belly:

Pork belly, cut into squares about 2 inches thick 3 cups of water
1 cup of Shiao Xing rice wine
1 tablespoon of Chinese black vinegar (Chin Kiang vinegar)
4 tablespoons of dark brown sugar or honey
1/3 cup of light soy sauce
2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
4 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 dried red chilies
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into a few slices
2 stalks of green onions, cut in half

First boil the pork in water until it turns white and then drain. This will help to reduce the fat content and also prevent any scum build-up in the braising liquid. Then put the pork back into the pot along with all the ingredients above, bring to a boil, then cover and let it simmer for 2-3 hours. When done, slice the pork belly lengthwise. Make sure to use a sharp knife so that the tender layers of meat and fat don't crumble and lose its shape under the pressure of the knife.

In the meantime, prepare the sushi...

For the rice:
2 cups of sushi-grade rice
2¼ cups of water
½ teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of sugar

Sushi filling:
Egg omelete sliced into long strips, made from 4 beaten eggs
Thinly sliced strips of seedless cucumber, or avocado slices, or both

Nori sheets
Sesame seeds

Cook the rice - 1 part of rice requires a little more than 1 part of water, about 1¼ parts. Once the rice is cooked, mix in the vinegar, sugar and salt, then give it a taste - it should have the perfect balance of sweet and sour. Then cover the rice and refrigerate it while you prep the filling.

When the filling's ready, lay a sheet of nori over a sushi mat and spread the rice over the nori until it's completely covered

Sprinkle some sesame seeds over the rice and then flip the nori sheet over so that the rice is on top of the sushi mat. Line the cucumber and omelete strips in the center of the sheet and then proceed to roll using the sushi mat.You can wet your fingers with cold water to prevent the rice from sticking to your hands.

Putting it all together:
Wet a sharp knife with some cold water, then slice the roll into 5-6 pieces. Place the pork belly slices over each piece and then spoon the braising liquid over. Garnish with sesame seeds and some coriander leaves and then take a step back and admire your work of art.


  1. Hi Kenny,
    Love the site man. Your recipes look amazing. I eat a paleo style diet most of the time, but I love sushi!

    My wife would be mighty impressed if I could whip up this dish!


  2. @Jordan - The Healthy Teacher
    Thanks much Jordan. I'm a carnivorous cave man myself and I'm trying to tone down. I'll make sure to check out your website for some health tips!