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Author Notes: Inspired by a yakitori joint in Hong Kong called Nan Tei. The combination of pork and shiso leaves is spot-on. More detailed photos here: http://www.ladyandpups... —Mandy @ Lady and pups
Makes: 6~8 skewers
grams of pork belly, skinless
Japanese shiso leaves
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
- When buying pork belly, pay attention to the balance between layers of fat and lean meats. Fat is important in this recipe so avoid parts that are overly lean with very little fat marblings in between, but you also wouldn’t want a giant fat-slab either. The size of the pork belly also matters. Make sure the length of the pork belly is long enough (at least 7?/18cm) that when cut into slices, it can cover the entire circumference of the roll. If not, the roll will “unravel” during cooking.
- Wrap the pork belly with plastic wrap and leave in the freezer to harden for at least 3 hours. Wash and clean the shiso leaves, and dry gently between two clean kitchen towels.
- Lay an area approx 17? x 17?/43 cm x 43 cm with plastic wrap. Remove the pork belly from the freezer and, with a VERY SHARP knife, slice the pork belly length-wise AS THINLY AS YOU HUMANLY CAN. Don’t even bother doing this with a room-temperature, or even cold pork belly. The entire piece of meat needs to be borderline FROZEN, because I’m talking about slices that’s no thicker than 1/16? (2 mm). You may be able to find butchers who can do this for you with an electric slicer, or purchase pork belly from Korean grocery stores that is already sliced for hot pot/BBQ. If you do, just make sure the slices are of the right size, at least 7?/18cm long, and thickness. Lay the slices on top of the plastic wrap in 3 repeated rows, only overlapping slightly on the edges. Then arrange the shiso leaves (should be completely dry, not damp) on top, again, overlapping on the edges.
- Start pulling up the plastic wrap from underneath and roll the entire thing like rolling a sushi, squeeze and tighten it up as TIGHTLY AS POSSIBLE as you go. Once you reach the end of it, wrap the entire roll in plastic wrap and twist one end of the it tightly, then tie up the plastic wrap in a knot. Then twist the other end, forcing the roll to be as compact as you can and tie another knot. Leave the roll in the freezer to harden for approx 2 hours. Meanwhile, soak the wooden skewer in water.
- Preheat the broiler on high (or you can do this on an outdoor grill). Unwrap the roll from the plastic wrap, and cut it with a SERRATED KNIFE in zig-zag motion, into 1/4? (0.5 cm) thick slices. To skewer them, make sure the point goes through near where the slices ends so it doesn’t unravel during cooking. Arrange 4 slices on a skewer and repeat until done. Season them liberally with fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and space them evenly on a baking rack with a sheet underneath to catch dripping. Set the rack on the upper level in the oven, only about 2?/4 cm underneath the broiler. Once the first side is nicely browned, flip them and brown the other side as well. It will only take approx 2 min on each side. If you oven tends to heat unevenly, you may need to switch positions of the skewers during cooking. Or a blow-torch comes very handy at finishing the job. Sprinkle with more sea salt if needed and serve immediately.