Traditionally, the way to cook a teriyaki dish is to marinate the meat in the sauce before cooking. The marinated meat is either grilled and basted repeatedly with the marinade, or braised in the sauce.
The second method is used in cooking this skewered pork dish but without marinating the meat at all. When meat is cut this thinly, it easily soaks up the sauce during cooking. Marinating is really superfluous.
What is bacon-cut pork belly?
It’s pork belly sliced as thin as bacon rashers. Machine-sliced, to be accurate. It’s really difficult to do this by hand. If “bacon-cut pork belly” is not a term used in your neighborhood meat shop, try asking for Korean pork samgyeopsal or Korean pork bulgogi.
We usually buy bacon-cut pork belly for stir fries but I had this idea of rolling each slice, threading the rolled meat with bamboo skewers and cooking the skewered rolled meat with teriyaki sauce in a pan on the stovetop. No grilling. Not on a day when the temperature soared to levels that we dared not set up the grill outdoors.
How do you make teriyaki sauce?
Teriyaki sauce is equal amounts of Japanese soy sauce, sake and mirin. I must emphasize that it’s Japanese soy sauce. Not Chinese soy sauce which is generally darker and saltier. Not Indonesian soy sauce — or kecap manis — which is sweet.
Sake and mirin are rice wines. Sweetish. Sake has a higher alcohol content than mirin. Note that there’s sake for cooking and sake for drinking. While you may use either, cooking sake is a lot cheaper. Mirin is syrupy which gives the surface of the cooked dish a glazed texture. You need both to make teriyaki sauce. Just mix them together with the Japanese soy sauce.
When exactly is the teriyaki sauce added to the pork?
After searing. Lightly spray the pan with oil. Lay the skewered pork when the oil is hot then cook, turning the skewers over after a few minutes, for even browning. When both sides are nicely browned, pour in the teriyaki sauce.
When the sauce boils, cover the pan, lower the heat and just let the meat soak up the sauce. It’s important to turn the skewers over every five minutes or so because you want the sauce to touch all sides of the meat.
Pork belly is fatty so rendered fat will get mixed into the sauce. As the sauce reduces to almost nothing, the meat will lightly fry in that fat. And, as it does, the sugar in the sake and mirin will caramelize and give the pork a light but lovely crust.
Skewered pork belly teriyaki
- 4 to 6 bamboo skewers
- 500 grams bacon-cut pork belly
- cooking oil
- ¼ cup Japanese soy sauce
- ¼ cup cooking sake
- ¼ cup mirin
- Press the pork slices between stacks of paper towels to remove surface moisture.
- Roll up each slice into a log.
- Thread the rolled pork belly with bamboo skewers (see notes).
- Brush or spray a frying pan with oil and heat.
- Lay the skewered pork in the oil in a single layer and sear on all sides until lightly browned.
- Mix all the ingredients for the teriyaki sauce and pour in.
- Bring the sauce to a boil, set the heat to low, cover the pan and braise the skewered pork, turning them over every few minutes, until most of the sauce has been soaked up.
- Continue cooking the pork in the rendered fat, turning them over often, until the sauce caramelizes (see notes) and forms a glaze on the surface of the meat.