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!
Layered Napa Cabbage and Pork
- ¼ napa cabbage about 800 grams
- 200 g thinly sliced fatty pork such as back rib or belly
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 can canned scallops (A) about 70 grams (and use soaking liquid too)
- 2 slices ginger (A)
- ¼ cup sake (A)
- 1 tsp soy sauce (B)
- 1 pinch salt (B)
- black pepper to taste
- lemon a squeeze, to taste
- Quarter the napa cabbage lengthwise and keep one quarter, taking care to keep the bottoms of the leaves attached. Refrigerate the rest.Cut the strips of pork into 4-5cm lengths and sprinkle with salt.
- 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.Add (B) to the cooking liquid and warm it up on the stove, then drizzle it over the cabbage and pork. Add some black pepper to taste and serve with a lemon wedge.