Silla Bjerrum – Cookery Author

Whilst studying Philosphy at the University of Copenhagen, Silla became a Smorresbrod Jomfru (Danish open sandwich maker) at the boutique sushi bar Nippon Tuk to support herself. The sushi proved more popular than the sandwiches so she turned her attention to rice preparation, fish cutting and sushi making. Silla traveled regularly to Tokyo and beyond to hone her skills, witnessing the global transition of sushi from an exclusive eat for the AB1 internationals to a broader appeal for mere mortals. She created a sushi service for pioneering Birley’s Sandwiches in Canary Wharf and then in 1999, after 7 years of strict discipline balanced by creative experimentation, she co-founded Feng Sushi.

In 1999 Feng Sushi opened on the Fulham Road, establishing the first sushi delivery service in the UK and at the same time focusing on being an environmentally sound operation. Health, nutrition, seasonality and tasty food were at the core of the business, from bio-degradable packaging, recycled oil and a strong emphasis on provenance and sustainability of fish, vegetables and Japanese ingredients

2018 was a special year for Silla, as she published her second book ‘Robata’ – Healthy Japanese Home Grilling.

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Silla’s Recipe for Pork Belly Yuzu Miso

Pork belly is a great inexpensive robata option, with its flavoursome strips of fat. I recommend using belly from free-range rare breeds. To break the grease and enhance the flavours, this is served with a simple yuzu miso topping to add umami and acidity simultaneously.

SERVES 4 | MAKES 8

Ingredients:
100g (3½oz./½cup) caster (superfine) sugar
50g (2oz./1⁄3 cup) seaweed salt
100ml (scant ½ cup) boiling water
400ml (1½ cups) ice-cold water
600g (1lb. 5oz.) strips of pork belly
Sake-Mirin Spray

FOR THE YUZU MISO DRESSING
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
50g (2oz.) yellow miso
1½ tbsp yuzu juice

You will need: 8 wooden skewers, soaked for 30 minutes in cold water

1. Make a brine. Place the sugar and salt in a mixing bowl, then pour over the boiling water and mix well. Top up the brine with the ice-cold water.

2. Trim the pork belly, removing the rind and leaving as much of the fat attached to the meat as possible. Cut into 1 .5 x 1.5cm (1/2 x 1/2 in.) wide pieces, add to the brine and leave to soak for 2 hours in the fridge.

3. For the dressing, place the mirin, sugar and miso in a small saucepan over a gentle heat and stir until the sugar is melted and the mirin incorporated. Remove from the heat, stir in the yuzu juice, and set aside to cool down.

4. Start the robata grill. Drain the pork belly through a colander, discarding the liquid. Divide the pork between the eight skewers. Grill over the bincho coals, spraying with sake-mirin spray and rotating every 2 minutes. Repeat until the pork is cooked through and crisp on the edges, about 8–10 minutes. Remove from the robata and, while still piping hot, add dollops of the yuzu miso to the crispy pork, then place in a serving dish.