This time in "Cuisine of the World," we explain how to make "Pork Belly in Black Vinegar Sauce," a specialty of Beijing, China. We visited "Tentsu Saikan" in Ginza with Masumi Yoshida and his family, who were previously stationed in Beijing for Marubeni.
Beijing, the capital of the People's Republic of China, is a city which flourished as an ancient capital for the historical Chinese imperial dynasties. It has remnants of its historical heritage, such as the Forbidden City as well as hutong (alleys or narrow streets, formerly part of the old city) reminiscent of the traditional lifestyle of the people in the old days, which are scattered around the city on the one hand, while on the other, it is a large city whose major roads are clogged with traffic jams from a never-ending stream of cars.
After joining Marubeni, Mr. Yoshida used his spare time to study Chinese by himself, from a desire to put it to good use in his work at some point, and his long-sought opportunity to do so arrived in June 2005, when he took up a new post as a trainee in Beijing. For the first year, he learned Chinese intensively, while living there among the local people. "When Chinese people can't catch what you are saying or don't understand what you mean, they ask you to repeat it by saying a big, loud "Whaaat?!" so my conversational skills were built up in my day to day life, doing shopping and getting taxis, etc.," recalls Mr. Yoshida.
In his second year in Beijing, Mr. Yoshida was involved in work to support exports of coal and raw materials for steelmaking to Japan for Marubeni (Beijing) Trading Co. Ltd. Their easy-going and open-minded nature is one of the strengths of Chinese people, but their conscientiousness about keeping promises and sticking to deadlines is somewhat less than that of Japanese people, and Mr. Yoshida sometimes experienced communication problems, when people would not tell him about or tried to cover up inconvenient news. "In order to build up trust relationships, whether within the company or with outside business partners, it was important to try to achieve communication by occasionally sharing a meal and some drinks in private-time, outside work hours too. I really found that through these sorts of social occasions it was possible to build up trust relationships where we could talk frankly about what we really thought."
Lunchtime also presented valuable opportunities for deepening exchanges. "When I went on business trips to visit mines and factories in places such as Inner Mongolia and Shandong Province, I was welcomed with lavish varieties of cuisine using ingredients from the local area spread across a round table. It was not unusual even to be served out baijiu (Chinese white liquor), which is 50% alcohol by volume, from lunchtime onward."
Mr. Yoshida also had to provide this sort of Chinese-style hospitality himself on occasion. "When choosing the menu for a business lunch or dinner, I took care to consider what would please my guests by ensuring that the type of ingredients and method of cooking did not overlap and that the menu was plentiful, well-balanced and there was a good flow from the appetizers and side dishes to the main course." Mr. Yoshida says that in his experience he found that it was essential to be able to sit his business associates at a round table which expressed his goodwill and appreciation to the maximum and then conduct frank discussions which laid everything on the table to deepen their mutual understanding.
"Pork Belly in Black Vinegar Sauce" is a recipe very similar to another dish from Beijing which instead uses spare ribs stewed in black vinegar sauce. For Mrs. Yoshida, who is originally from Beijing, it is the nostalgic flavor of home. "People from Beijing are some of the straightest talkers compared to other Chinese people, and they express themselves in a similar way to how Edokko (shitamachi Tokyoites) do in Japan. Once you get to know them, they tend to try to take care of you so much that they can even seem like meddling busybodies," says Mrs. Yoshida.
"In Beijing, I learned that it is only possible to cultivate bonds with people by frankly telling each other what you really think. China's presence in the world economy will certainly go on to become even more important. I myself would like to go on to use my Chinese language skills in a global sphere to try and help build up an even bigger metallic resources business," says Mr. Yoshida.
China has a population of some 1.3 billion people and, in 2010, it overtook Japan to become the second largest economy in the world.
Marubeni launched its business in China in 1979 and now has 16 bases in 13 major cities, involved in businesses in a wide range of fields. In recent years, we have been particularly focusing our efforts on businesses aiming towards further developing the growing consumer market in China, such as food, cars, housing and finance.
|Diced pork belly||400g|
|Red bell pepper||1/4|
*1 Vegetable oil is also possible. Excludes the amount of oil used to fry the pork and the vegetables.
*2 It is also fine to dissolve 2 teaspoons of chicken stock powder into 230cc of warm water.
*3 Add more if necessary.
Step 1: Parboil the pork, which has already been seasoned with salt and pepper, and when removing it from the hot water, carefully remove any excess water. Heat the Chinese bean oil (2 tablespoons) in a wok, and after frying the pork until it is a light brown color, add the soy sauce and chicken stock soup and leave it to simmer for approximately 5 minutes. Transfer the soup and the meat together into a bowl and steam in a Chinese bamboo steaming basket for approx. 8 hours.
Instead of steaming the meat and soup in a steaming basket, it is also possible to stew it in a pressure cooker (pressurized for about 20 minutes.) or a vacuum cooker (at 80 degrees Celsius for about 15 minutes.). In the case of a normal pan, it is also possible to stew it on a low heat for about 2 hours, before taking the pan off the heat and leaving it to rest for 1 hour with a lid on (repeat this 2 or 3 times). These methods will also produce tender, succulent meat.
Step 2: Cut the red bell pepper and paprika into pieces 1 cm across, and use a toothpick to make a hole in the shishito peppers to remove the seeds. Fry these in the Chinese bean oil, and add the chicken stock soup (2 tablespoons) and salt (a 1/2 teaspoon) and lightly simmer in a pan.
Step 3: Cut the steamed pork into quarters, sprinkle the surface of the meat with potato starch, and fry in Chinese bean oil that has been heated to 180 degrees Celsius until the surface turns crispy, before shaking off any excess oil.
Step 4: Add the sesame oil to a heated wok, then add (A) and when it comes to the boil, add the pork from Step 3 and heat over a high flame while mixing everything together.
If the sauce is not thick enough, add more potato starch dissolved in water and heat again.
From: “Shareholder’s guide Marubeni,” Vol.113 (published in December 2012)