• Countryside Alliance Team

Recipe: Japanese Braised Pork Belly With Hedgerow Greens (Serves 2)

Updated: Apr 16

Here is a wonderful recipe from Valentine Warner, chef, food writer and broadcaster known for his deep love of nature and travel. He would generally prefer to be found in a field rather than his office and is most likely to be fishing or melting butter!


(Image by Dan Sneddon)

“This is a delightfully simple recipe to make. The Japanese ingredients are pretty easy to find as are the ‘wild vegetables’ I’ve chosen that are abundant now, given you are in the right habitat. If you are in the woods and smell a pong of garlic then you are probably standing in it. I’ve also specifically chosen these in that they are recognisable and easy to identify.


However Alexander plants are in the Carrot family that include Hemlock and Hemlock Water Dropwort, both of them deadly poisonous. Please use at least two guide books if in doubt. In fact if in doubt just use the wild garlic buds with more of the leaves included. Alternatively include some washed and steamed nettle tops

with the garlic buds and forget the Alexander’s all together. Never take chances!! Alexander has a celery and parsley intensity that is fabulous with the meat liquor."


Recipe

25 mins prep time

3 hours cooking time (allowing you to do other things)


Ingredients


  • 1 medium onion diced to medium and neatly

  • 30ml sunflower or peanut oil

  • 3 Thick cut pork belly strips ( skin on) cut at 1 and a half inch pieces

  • 1 thumb of ginger, peeled and finely sliced lengthways

  • 3 whole black peppercorns

  • 100ml Japanese soya sauce such a Kikkoman. Preferably this should be from a relatively fresh bottle that has not gone stale. Chinese soya sauce is not appropriate for this recipe

  • 50ml sake if available or 25ml white vermouth (also very optional)

  • 1 level tbls red miso paste (Mi So Tasty brand is sold in dinky small jars and is widely available)

  • 1 generous table spoon of soft dark brown sugar

  • 700 ml water

  • 1 finger length strip of satsuma or mandarin peel. Plus extra for garnish either very finely sliced or grated

  • 4 X Alexander tops ( now is the time) pick too stem part of flower with a few leaves . Wash well in very salty water and rinse then drain. Alternatively replace with small wild garlic leaves or nettle tops. Washed and drained of course

  • Pick 8 spear shaped buds from among the wild garlic plants and wash


Instructions


  1. In a medium sauce pan that owns a lid fry the onion in the sunflower oil taking great care not to burn it. Cook slowly until totally soft and deep golden. This may take 20 minutes or so

  2. Take the pan off the heat and add the ginger slices, peppercorns, strip of citrus peel, followed by the soya  sauce, miso paste,  sugar, sake (if using) and water

  3. Stir all together and then gently lower in the pork

  4. Return to the heat and bring to the gentlest simmer, more a wobble

  5. Put on the lid. This will raise the temperature so check as at no point should the broth become a full on boil

  6. Remove the lid every now and then and skim off the rising fat

  7. Cook like this for two hours, before removing the lid. Over the next hour gently bring down the broth to a level just millimetres above the meat

  8. Remember to cook your rice that it is ready in time with the pork. The Alexander flower stems need only 2 minutes or so in the steamer. The garlic buds will be served raw

  9. Take two small bowls and lay a wild garlic leaf or two in the bottom. Squeeze a spoonful of the citrus juice into the sauce and stir in. Pour one small ladle of the hot stock over the leaves

  10. Add half the pork with some onion

  11. Lay the steamed Alexander’s into the bowl on the pork. Drop in 4 wild garlic buds. I also like to sprinkle a tiny bit of extra grated or very finely chopped raw zest. Garnish with a delicate and edible primrose

  12. Eat with the rice and some English mustard that one surprisingly sees served with Japanese food frequently


Great with Green tea or very cold lager - hope you enjoy!


(Foraging is done at your own risk)


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