What is Kurobuta? Kurobuta is the Japanese term for certain high quality grade of pork. In Japan all Kurobuta pork comes from the Berkshire pig. Not all of the Berkshire pork qualifies to be called Kurobota. It has to be very high quality to receive this title. Recently at Mama Cho’s we found some pork belly labeled as Kurobuta. Is it Berkshire pork? I am not sure but it looks beautiful. The package we bought was pre-sliced belly. It will need a curing and a trip to the smoker to be called bacon and that is precisely what we are going to do.
We are using a wet curing system today. We are also using a nitrate free recipe. We are bypassing the addition of nitrates because we will be using a hot smoke to flavor our bacon. This will insure safety and no need for pink salt. (Nitrates). Our recipe includes; sugar, salt, molasses and apple cider. The apple cider was swapped out with some homemade apple syrup given to me at my Farmers Market. (Full Recipe Here) We also will be using apple wood as our smoking fuel. This should be fantastic.
The belly was already sliced making this a challenge in the curing and the smoking. Our curing was done in a plastic bucket which was kept in the refrigerator for three days. It was rinsed with plain water overnight. The actual smoking only took about one and one half hours. Our goal was not to cook the slices all the way. We just wanted to add a smoke component to the finished product. We finished our bacon in our trusty black iron skillet.
This bacon turned out fantastic. It had all the right moves. It had a wonderful meaty pork flavor. This was a special breed to have this amount of flavor. The sweetness was balanced with the salt. There was an apple nuance to put this bacon over the top. We crumbled several slices and mixed them with our beans and tamale dinner. Was this true Kurobuta (Berkshire) pork? The price tag say’s no but my taste buds say a resounding yes. Is it possible that Mama Cho’s does not realize what a great pork product they have? I am returning next week to see if I can buy a whole belly for more bacon activities.