This meltingly tender pork is even better if made the day before serving. Cool the meat in the stock then cover and refrigerate overnight. Lift off the fat that will have set on the surface and re-heat in the oven.
1 kilogram piece boneless pork belly, skin on
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
5 cups water
1 teaspoon instant dashi powder
1 cup cooking sake
1 thumb-sized piece skin on ginger, thickly sliced
3 spring onions, root trimmed
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon black or rice vinegar
1-2 teaspoons cornflour
1 tablespoon cold water
Umeboshi plum sauce
8 umeboshi plums, plain (Japanese pickled plums)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon mirin
umeboshi plum sauce
Preheat the oven to 150˚C.
Cut the pork into 6 cm x 4 cm pieces and tie with kitchen string to prevent them falling apart during cooking.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan and brown the pork on all sides except for the skin. Drain on kitchen towels to remove any oil.
Place in a single layer in a large ovenproof saucepan and add the water, dashi powder, sake, ginger and spring onions. Cover the meat with a piece of baking paper (not a lid) and bring to just below the boil.
Place in the oven and braise gently for 1½ hours or until tender when pierced with a skewer. Turn the pork pieces once during cooking. Add the soy, sugar and vinegar, cover with the baking paper and simmer for a further 30 minutes until the pork is meltingly tender. If making ahead, cool, cover and refrigerate at this stage.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the pork to a dish, cover and keep warm. Place the saucepan on the stove top and boil the braising liquid until reduced by half. If you want a thicker glaze, mix the cornflour and water until smooth then stir into the sauce. Bring back to the boil and cook for 2 minutes.
Umeboshi plum sauce: Remove the stones from the plums. Place the flesh in a shallow dish and crush to a rough paste. Mix in the soy, honey and mirin, adding a little more honey if you want it slightly sweeter. The sauce should be salty and tangy with only a hint of sweetness, as this counters the richness of the pork belly.