Every so often, I like to go treasure-hunting.

In my freezer.

Without fail, I would find some package of meat I had forgotten about hiding way back in the corner, by the little box of baking soda and the bigger box of delicious Melona bars. My last round of treasure hunting unearthed a neatly-wrapped, butcher-paper-encased package of ‘fresh side pork’…Huh?

It turns out that fresh side pork is basically the same cut of meat as bacon, except that it’s fresh and not cured. Not wanting to wait another week before eating it (that’s the amount of time it would take to make bacon), Nathan and I quickly decided on the #2 best use of fresh pork belly: buta no kakuni. We had it at a Japanese izakaya months before and ever since, I’ve been talking about trying to make it at home. Yup, just call me a copycat. Meow.

I will warn you now that this is not a recipe for warm days since you will be heating up your kitchen for multiple hours to make a hearty, belly-warming stew. But on a cold, rainy night, there is nothing better than snuggling up with such a bowl of porky goodness. Plus, your whole house will smell insanely delicious for the rest of the night, so much so that your kitty (if you happen to have one) will go absolutely bonkers.

PS: Another post to come about those miso-glazed eggplants you see in the background above.

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Wow, sorry for the lack of posts in over a month! I’ve been away on three different trips since the middle of May, so you can imagine that doesn’t leave much time for cooking or blogging. The only cooking I got to do while I was away was with Nathan for a double-lasagna dinner for all the relatives in Wyoming, which ended in a smoky kitchen but relatively happy diners. (Hi Mary! Hi Jodi! I forget who else from Wyoming might be reading this – Hello!)

Before Wyoming, I was on this whirlwind tour of China, Singapore, and Taiwan for work. Even though the schedule was literally packed with talks and meetings, I ventured out to eat as much delicious local foods as I could. Perhaps there’ll be a future post about this … although I won’t have any recipes and will thus violate rule #1 of this blog. Before Asia, we went to Banff for our friends’ Brian and Michelle’s beautiful wedding!

To ease back into blogging, I thought I’d start with a recipe that requires not much work but does require much time and patience. We got a slab of uncured pork belly from our subscription to the meat CSA and after emailing the CSA members for ideas on what to do with it, we decided to make our own bacon!

The whole week our bacon-to-be was hanging out in our fridge, I was constantly worried that it had a weird, grayish tone since supposedly, one reason you add sodium nitrite is to keep the meat pink. So because the meat was not pink, I thought I must have not added enough sodium nitrite and that we will certainly get food poisoning from eating our own bacon (because the other, more important reason you add sodium nitrite is to prevent botulism). But after slowly roasting in the oven, the bacon came out beautifully pink and gorgeous and it turned out Nathan’s right (again) that I worry too much.

I’ll follow up this post with a recipe using said bacon soon. The only major note about this bacon is that it’s quite salty so it’s best used it in a dish rather than eating on its own, breakfast-style.

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