Every bite reveals layers of fatty pork and soft cabbage, melting together in a harmony of flavour. A must try!
Most Japanese recipes using pork or beef call for the meat to be thinly sliced – for this recipe, a thinly sliced fatty cut of pork is best, such as baraniku. It will be hard to find the exact same cut outside of Japan, so just try to find a fatty cut of pork and ask for it to be very thinly sliced. Or freeze it a little and slice it yourself!
How traditional is the culture of eating meat in Japan? Well, before Buddhism was introduced during the Nara Period (710-784), Japanese people would hunt and raise all types of animals for food. Wild boars were eaten in Japan during the prehistoric Yayoi Period, but after the establishment of Buddhism as the state religion, eating animals became a distasteful thing. The cultural acceptance of eating meat varied from period to period, depending on the preferences of the ruling class, but pork was, and remains to this day, a prized source of nutrition in Kagoshima and Okinawa. For a summary of the history of pork in Japan, as well as a tonkatsu (breaded, deep-fried pork) recipe, click here!
Quarter the napa cabbage lengthwise and keep one quarter, taking care to keep the bottoms of the leaves attached. Refrigerate the rest.
Place the slices of pork in between the leaves of the cabbage.
Put the whole cabbage-pork package into a pot and add (A). Cover and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes.
Remove the cabbage and pork from the pot in one piece, and cut into four portions and put on plates.