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, and the loin seems to be not only the leanest cut, but the cheapest as well.
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 a glaze. At the end, I used a butane torch to caramelize the glaze, 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. You can see a faint smoke ring in the slices, but there wasn't much smoke flavor. It might've been masked by the heavy glaze. The girls don't care too much for heavy smoke, so that wasn't an issue.
I left the BBQ loin intact, and will slice that up tomorrow or the day after. It smells a lot smokier than the yakibuta did, so I'm looking forward to it. All in all, a pretty decent smoke to get the season started.
BTW, I usually only post in the ECB group, but I thought I'd copy this particular post into the main forum because it's more about pork and less about the ECB. I hope there's no rule against that. If so, I apologize!