The yen is pretty weak these days, and pork and beef prices are up 20-30% from last year. I was at Costco (yup, even in Japan) last week, and decided to pick up a pork loin. I prefer cooking (and eating) pork shoulder, but I'm trying to go a little leaner these days.
Our family is just me, my Japanese wife, and our daughter. I decided to cut the loin in half. Smoking season is just getting underway, and I don't want to burn them out on BBQ, so I did half with my BBQ rub and half yakibuta (translates to "roast pork"). After an overnight dry-brining (just salt and pepper), I marinated the yakibuta about 4-5 hours in soy sauce, mirin, and sake, with a little ginger and green onions. When I put it on the smoker, I gave it two nice coatings of brown sugar.
Here's the first coat, after it melted:
Then I packed another one on top of that:
I set aside the marinade, added some cornstarch, and thickened it up to use for basting. At the end, I used a butane torch to caramelize the coating, then sliced it.
This was the first time I've tried making yakibuta with loin, and the family seemed happy. After two hours at about 250F, powered by a portable butane stove with two large chunks of cherry, it came out really juicy (I pulled it at around 145, IIRC). I wish I'd had a better carving knife, though. With meat that juicy, the sharper the better. I left the BBQ loin intact, and will slice that up tomorrow or the day after. All in all, a pretty decent smoke to get the season started.