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Fuki, Spring in Full Swing

Fuki (butterbur) is ubiquitous in the markets come spring. The other day, a neighbor gave us a bag of these green stalks since he had been visiting his elderly mother out in the countryside. I thought a simmered pork dish would go well with this spring vegetable so I began the rather laborious process of prepping the fuki.

 

Fuki-raw

First, after rinsing the stalks and cutting off the brown ends, I sprinkled the lot with salt and rolled them on the cutting board. Then, I tossed the stalks, cut into lengths that would fit my pot, into boiling water and parboiled them for a couple of minutes until they turned bright green. Immediately, I drained them and plunged them into cold water. Now came the tedious part of de-stringing. If my pot had been wider, I would not have had to cut the length of the fuki, but as it were, I had double the number of stalks to peel. I probably didn't need to peel the thinner stalks, but I didn't want any stringiness whatsoever as I was planning to offer the final dish to my neighbor.

Fuki-peeled

While I was prepping the fuki, I had another pot simmering with pork chunks that were happily bouncing around waiting to be introduced to the the pungent, pine-scented tubes. After about an hour of simmering the pork in a broth of shoyu, ginger, onion, brown sugar, sake and water, I added the fuki stalks and simmered them together for about 10 minutes. I took the fuki out and set them aside while I continued to simmer the pork and reduce the broth to a syrupy thick glaze. Thank you, neighbor!

 


Posted By: Jan Opdahl
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Shoyu Braised Pork with Fuki

Serves 4-6

1 kg pork shoulder, cut up into large chunks

2 in (5cm) fresh ginger, unpeeled and sliced into thick rounds

1 round onion, peeled and cut into quarters

1/4 cup sake

1/4 cup brown sugar, unpacked

1/4-1/2 cup shoyu

Fuki, one bunch (use as much or as little as you like)


Cooking Process:

Heat a large pot over high heat. Add a couple of teaspoons of vegetable oil and fry the pork chunks until slightly browned. Add enough water to cover as well as the ginger, onion, sake and sugar. Bring to a boil and skim the scum. Add the shoyu and lower the heat. Cover the pot and simmer for about one hour. Meanwhile prepare the fuki.

Wash and cut off the ends of the fuki. Sprinkle the stalks generously with salt and rub them back and forth on a cutting board. Bring a pot of water to a boil and throw the fuki in without rinsing off the salt. Boil for about 2-3 minutes until the fuki turn bright green. Drain and immediately plunge the fuki in a bowl of ice cold water. Using the tips of your fingers or a small paring knife, break off a piece of the tip and pull back the long fibers and discard. Go around the entire stalk to remove the fibers. Cut the peeled fuki into approximately 2 inch (5cm) lengths and keep the peeled fuki in a bowl of water to prevent discoloration.

After the pork has simmered for about one hour, add the prepped fuki and simmer together for about 10 minutes. Remove the fuki to a separate bowl and continue to simmer the pork, uncovered, until most of the broth has reduced, maybe for another 30 minutes or so. Add the fuki back in with the pork to reheat before serving.

How to Serve:

Serve with white rice.

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