Steamed Garlic - Flavored Pork And Leafy Vegetables

Steamed garlic-flavored pork and leafy vegetablesInstead of swanky restaurants, Kentetsu Koh is more interested in what people eat every day when he’s on assignments overseas.
“I grew up sensing how great home cooking is,” the 41-year-old cooking expert says.

When he traveled to the Philippines for a television program, he set out from Manila and rode for more than 10 hours in cars and buses. His destination was the terraced rice fields on Luzon Island that have been designated a World Heritage site.

The rice fields, rising up from the bottom of the valley on a steep slope, created a magnificent view.

Koh stayed for about a week with a large family who tilled the paddies with their own hands the old-fashioned way.

The family lived humbly, and the 15-year-old daughter who managed the chores cooked the same meal every day.

She would cut and place cabbage and Chinese cabbage in a pot in a heap, add a bit of salted pork, pork fat and garlic and cook on firewood for around 20 minutes. The thoroughly cooked vegetables were served with soup on a bowl of rice.

“It was one of the tastiest vegetable stir-fries I had ever eaten,” Koh recalls.

Back in Japan, he tried to recreate the taste in his kitchen, but something was different.

“Cooking is not just about ingredients and technique. I learned that the local environment and people’s history count as well. I believe that was home cooking at its finest,” he says.

Even today, whenever he feels that he is losing his original feeling toward cooking, he makes this dish.

Koh turned the recipe into a hearty dish. All it takes is layered leafy vegetables and a block of meat in a thick pot steamed with the lid on.

The food should be cooked well until the vegetables are tender. Remove the meat, slice and return to the pot. Mix gently so the “umami” goes around. Serve in the pot and enjoy.


Serves four:

400 grams block of pork belly

3 to 4 leaves Chinese cabbage

1/4 cabbage

2 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp sake

Some salt and coarsely ground pepper

1 Tbsp olive oil


Prick all sides of meat with fork and rub in 1 tsp salt and some pepper. Cut Chinese cabbage into width of 4 cm. Remove core of cabbage and chop. Thinly slice garlic.

Lay white core-part of Chinese cabbage, cabbage, leaf-part of Chinese cabbage in this order in thick pot. Place pork on top and sprinkle garlic slices. Pour sake and olive oil, put lid on, place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat and steam for 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove pork, slice and return to pot. Mix gently with vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste.