This is what they mean when they say umami.
I say this surprisingly because the recipe was relatively simple. Slices of pork loin (I used kurobuta from the Japanese market) goes in a quick 5 minute marinade, gets a coat of katakuriko (potato starch), then pan fried and cooked in a shoyu, mirin, and sugar. Then it’s topped on a bowl of rice sprinkled with slivers of shiso and nori. Done! It’s that easy.
The katakuriko creates this amazing gooey coating that absorbs the salty-sweet sauce. The chewy pork, the sticky rich sauce, a hint of ginger from the marinade, and the pungent shiso (I don’t know what it is about shiso, but damn! It elevates any dish) are simple ingredients transformed into a satisfying mouthful. A mouthful of umami.
You must make this.
Also, a word about the word kuwayaki. Kuwa means hoe and yaki means broiled, pan fried, baked, etc. (as in teriyaki, yakiniku, yakisoba, yaki imo). According to my mom, this method of cooking was traditionally used by farmers because they would use the flat part of the hoe as a pan for cooking.
Kuwayaki Pork Donburi
Adapted from ぜひ覚えたいおかず
Makes 2 servings
5.5 oz. pork loin (I bought pork loin for tonkatsu and sliced it half so it wasn’t as thick)
3-4 Tbsp. katakuriko (potato starch)
2 Tbsp. canola oil
3 shiso leaves, chiffonade
1/4 sheet toasted nori, cut with kitchen scissors into thin strips
For the marinade
1 Tbsp. shoyu
1/2 Tbsp. sake
1 tsp. fresh ginger juice
For the sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp. shoyu
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. mirin
1 Tbsp. water
Combine the marinade ingredients in a plate or shallow bowl and add the pork. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
Put the katakuriko in a large plate. When the pork has finished marinating, drain the excess marinade and dip the pork into the plate of katakuriko. Make sure it’s evenly coated, then shake off any excess.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and fry the pork so both sides turn a golden brown. If doing this in batches, be sure to add enough oil with each batch so the pork sizzles. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and add to the pork. Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Assemble the donburi with hot rice on the bottom, add the shiso and nori, and top with the pork.