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Kakuni is a Japanese-style braised pork. The name translate to "square simmer", which usually refers to the shape. This is great served with karashi (Japanese hot mustard) and steamed greens, like spinach.
3 pounds pork belly, skin off
½ cup organic soy sauce (from Yugeta Shoyu or Yamaki Jozo)
½ cup Suehiro Usukuchi Soy Sauce
3 ounces Kakuida black vinegar or Iio Jozo brown rice vinegar
1 ¾ cups water
3 ounces sake
½ cup Murakami Syouten Okinawan brown sugar
½ ounce Takehisa Donko dried shiitake
1 onion, rough chopped
2 inch piece ginger, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 star anise
5 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
Cut the pork belly into pieces approximately 2 inches square. Combine remaining ingredients in a non-reactive pot and stir until sugar dissolves. Place pork in pot and weigh it down with a plate or wooden drop lid. Over medium heat, bring to a slow simmer then turn down the heat to keep at a slow simmer. Check for doneness after 1 hour - pork is done when it can be pierced easily with a bamboo skewer. If not yet done, keep at a slow simmer and check every 10 minutes until done. Remove the pork to a plate and let rest. Strain the liquid and then skim off the fat. This dish can be served right away or reserved for later. If you will serve later, add pork back to liquid, cool and store in refrigerator. To reheat, place over medium heat in a covered pan until pork is hot.