Cooking log 32 : Pork wrapped Taninaka Ginger & Eggplant “Denraku”

Tipsy time 🙂

Drinking is never complete without nice food’s company. With all that is going on with the pandemic, these little moments of chill and happiness are what kept me going.

As i am not a strong drinker, i need multiple session to finish a bottle. This was the day i had another glass of the Aka Primitivo Rosato where i had prepared tuna sashimi with salt and lemon as recommended in the wine tasting class. Besides that i was thrilled to found some Taninaka ginger during my supply run and decided to do one of my favorite drinking dish.

Taninaka ginger is a type of young ginger available in Japan from spring~summer. It has long stem with skinny roots, mellow spiciness and very crunchy. Commonly in Japan it is chilled and served with Miso paste, as a refreshing dish in Izakaya. I love that style too but my favorite is this pork wrap version.

This is extremely simple to make, with salt as the only seasoning used. Thin-sliced pork belly were sprinkled with rock salt before being wrapped onto the ginger, with salted side inwards. One thing to be careful here is NOT wrap too many layers, to strike good balance between pork fat and ginger’s spiciness while ensure that the ginger is slightly heated in the cooking process before the pork turn charcoal. I always go with 2 layers overlap with the ginger completely covered, no more than that.

Next is to roast them in toaster or oven. I tried this once with charcoal bbq and it was awesome but cannot really have that at home. Roast until the surface starting to get brown and the smell of fresh ginger is detectable in the fume.

Another drinking dish i love is eggplant denraku. This is an ancient Japanese countryside dish that traced back to Heian era (8~12 century AD) and got its name sake from “Denraku Mai”, a type of dance performed in the rice fields consists of climbing and bouncing around on a long bamboo stick. Sounds like pole dancing….but it is most definitely not that.

Nasu Denraku!

Eggplant Denraku is an easy dish but requires more patience. I started with slicing the eggplant in half then making grid cuts on each without cutting through the skin. This help with the grilling process and also make it easier to eat later. Then they were put skin side up into a frying pan with sesame oil and grill on low heat. It will absorb the fragrance of sesame oil while turning soft inside and have beautiful golden grilled surface.

Once the most of the skin turn from purple to brown, flip it for grilling skin side down to make sure it is throughly cooked. On the side, prepare the sauce but slowly cooking and reduce cooking rice wine, water, Miso paste, sugar and soy sauce into sticky consistence. Brush on the Miso sauce and sprinkle chopped spring onion. It is now perfect.

Tipsy night ensured.

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