Harumi Kurihara is one of Japan's most popular celebrity chefs -- some have compared her, with her elegant demeanor and pitch-perfect interior design, to Martha Stewart. Unlike Stewart, though, Kurihara's recipes are rustic and free-flowing -- measurements needn't be perfect. The KCET show "Your Japanese Kitchen" showcases her simple home-style meals, including this dinner of simmered pork belly with seaweed and cucumber salad.
Rafte (Simmered Pork Belly)
2 1/4 lbs pork belly
1 knob ginger
5 cups awamori (sake)
1/4 cup soft brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
Place the pork into a pan, covered with water. Turn heat on high and bring water to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes after the water boils.
Remove pork from water, wash, and remove the residue. Put the pork back in the pan, add awamori, and cover with water. Add crushed ginger into the pan, put the lid on, and bring to a boil.
Open the lid a little and simmer for 2 hours, until about half the liquid is gone.
Remove meat from liquid and cut into equal chunks. Add soft brown sugar to the soup, put the pork back in, and simmer for 30 minutes while partially covered.
Take the pork and ginger out.
Cool the soup in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. When the fat has solidified, remove it from the surface with a spoon. You can use the lard in other recipes.
Put the pork back in the pan and cover with water again. Add soy sauce, cover with drop lid and simmer it for an hour.
Wakame Salad with Cucumber and Crabmeat
1/4 tsp salt
About 4 oz (net) torn crabmeat
25g - or a scant ounce - (soaked 80g) salted wakame seaweed
1 large knob ginger, julienned
5 tbsp squeezed shikwasa Okinawan lime juice (or regular lime juice, if needed)
3 tbsp squeezed orange juice (1/2 orange)
Soak the salted wakame seaweed in water for about 10 minutes. Drain the wakame and cut it into bite size pieces.
Slice the cucumbers. Rub with a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and put them aside for 5 minutes.
Break up the crab meat into small pieces and cut the ginger into thin strips.
Add the lime and orange juices to a bowl and season with some salt.
Squeeze out the excess water from the cucumbers and put them in a bowl along with the wakame, crabmeat, and ginger.
[Photos courtesy Flickr user Ron Dollette]