Kakuni: Simmered Pork and Daikon

Kakuni: Simmered Pork and Daikon

In this article, Atsushi Nakahigashi cooks an amazing simmered pork dish at the Brooklyn Kitchen using ingredients from The Meat Hook. The combination of daikon and pork, simmered with soy sauce, sake, and sugar, creates a super delicious and savory dish, perfect for preparing the night before and reheating the next day. The recipe and instructions for this traditional Japanese dish are provided in the post.

What's interesting about this delicious pork kakuni is that the daikon tenderizes the pork as it cooks, while the pork flavors the daikon, so both ingredients turn out super delicious. Also, this is a dish you want to cook the night before, keep in the fridge and then reheat. Like a great stew, waiting a day will give the flavors extra time to leisurely mingle and deepen. Here's the recipe, give it a try:

(Serves 4)

Simmered Daikon and Pork Belly

Ingredients:

  • 1 3-inch piece of kombu
  • 1 pound daikon, peeled and cut into 2-inch long quarters
  • 3/4 pound fresh pork belly, cut into chunks about the size of daikon pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sake
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

Instructions:

  1. Layer Ingredients in Pot:

    • Place kombu at the bottom of a large pot.
    • Add pork belly chunks on top of the kombu.
    • Place daikon quarters on top of the pork. Ensure daikon is not at the bottom to prevent breaking apart during cooking.
  2. Cooking Preparation:

    • Add water to the pot, covering the ingredients. Add a little more water if necessary to ensure everything is submerged.
    • Bring the pot to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Simmering:

    • Once boiling, remove any scum from the surface.
    • Cover with an otoshibuta (drop lid). If you don't have an otoshibuta, create one from aluminum foil with a hole in the center.
  4. Continue to Simmer:

    • Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes. Test daikon tenderness with a chopstick; it should insert easily when tender.
  5. Add Seasonings:

    • Stir in soy sauce, sake, and sugar.
    • Cover again with the otoshibuta and continue to simmer for an additional 20 minutes on low heat.
  6. Serving:

    • Serve hot, garnished with thinly sliced scallion or needle-cut ginger.

Techniques and Their Purposes:

  • Layering Ingredients: Prevents daikon from breaking apart by placing it above the pork and on kombu, which also adds umami flavor as it cooks.
  • Using an Otoshibuta: Ensures even cooking and flavor absorption, while allowing steam to escape, concentrating the flavors.
  • Simmering with Soy Sauce, Sake, and Sugar: Infuses the daikon and pork with a rich, savory-sweet flavor profile characteristic of Japanese cuisine.