This is my take on chashu, a much simplier version than my previous sous vide recipe which took 36 hours! This is the method I have had the greatest results with so far out of everything I have tried (I have tried a lot of different methods!) I wanted something that was tender and juicy but did not fall apart, it should still have some texture to it, a bit of bite and chew, otherwise its just mush.
I call it chashu but its not very traditional as it does not use the typical braise in soy, mirin and sake, but just a simple salt brine and a slow cook in the oven. I am not a huge fan of the traditional method, I find braising it in the soy/mirin/sake doesnt really do much except give the outer layer flavour and a dark color. The flavour does not penetrate or season the rest of the meat. With this method the meat gets nicely season right through. I have to tip my hat off to my brother who told me about this method of rolling in foil and the cook temp & times. He has been cooking pork belly and other though cuts of meat for far longer than I have, he knows his stuff!
Its my go to recipe now, I do like to tweak the brine a bit adding different things like start anise, cloves, fruit etc so feel free to play around and add what ever you think would be good with pork.
Place the container on a weighting scales and press the 'Tare' button to set it back to zero.
Place the meat in it and enough water to cover it.
Calculate 5% of the weight and this is the amount of salt you need to add. Remove the meat and add the amount of salt you calculated to the water. Mix it well so it all disolves.
Put the meat back in, cover and set in the fridge for 10 hours.
I dont use the traditional method of trussing the meat with twine, you can if you want but with this method its unneccessary and actually much easier.
Take your meat out of the brine solution and lay it fat side down. Add some white pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and salt to the side facing up. I usually add about 2 tsp of each and rub it all in, its up to you how much you add, you could start with this though.
You are ready to roll. Roll up the pork belly into a roll as tight as you can and place it seem side down on some foil.
I usually pull out a long piece of foil, but dont tear it of yet and set the losely roll meat, seam side down at the edge.
Then you need to start rolling the meat into the foil, trying to keep it tucked in and as tight as possible. I do this until its has been wrapped with maybe 5/6 layers of foil. Remember it has to be super tight! It may take a few attempts, but its really important for this to be as tight as possible.
You should have some foil protruding from both sides, you need to fold this down. I use a chopping action with the side of my hand to try keep it as tight as possible to the side of the meat while push out as much air as i can. Once I've done this, i fold the side bits back upwards. You can wrap again with another sheet if you wish to make sure its all sealed in.
The easist bit. Just put it in a pre heated oven for 3 hours @ 150c.
When its done, take it out of the oven, dont remove the foil, and let cool to room temp. Then place it in the fridge overnight, still wrapped in foil.
The next day you can remove the foil, scrape of any lumps of gelatin and fat that have solidified around the meat.
You can sear the meat in a very hot pan with some oil, turning it frequently, but the pan MUST be very hot with a good layer of oil before putting the meat it (It will splash a lot!). Its a very quick sear, you do not want the meat in the pan very long or it will heat up internally and continue cooking (drying it out)!
Or my prefered method, sear it with a blow torch.