Cola makes a surprise appearance in a braise for pork belly in this Japanese-inspired dish.
20cm/8in dried konbu
10 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 litre/1¾ pints low-mineral bottled water, or softened tap water
250ml/9fl oz dashi
100ml/3½fl oz dashi
2 tsp shoyu
2 tsp mirin
1 tsp yuzu juice
pinch sodium alginate
10g/¼oz food grade calcium chloride
For the dashi, soak the konbu and shiitake mushrooms in the water for 15-20 minutes or until both are soft. In a small pan, heat very gently and remove the shiitake just before the water boils. When the water is boiling, immediately reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the konbu for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and take the pan off the heat. Add the katsuobushi, wait for it to sink to the bottom of the pan then strain the liquid through a fine sieve and let cool.
For the pork, preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3 and place the pork into a roasting tin. Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the pork. Roast for two hours, basting frequently, then remove from the oven and rest for 15 minutes before carving into four neat rectangular pieces.
For the celery, cut four strips of celery, no wider than 3mm/⅛in, and trim them into neat rectangular shapes. Dissolve the sugar in the water and yuzu juice and bring to the boil in a small pan. Allow the sugar to caramelise to a light amber color then add the celery and remove the pan from the heat. Leave the celery in the syrup for four minutes, then drain and cool on greaseproof paper, brushing off excess sugar syrup with a wet pastry brush.
Cut the squash horizontally into four slices, each about 1cm/½ thick, so you have four rings of squash. Melt the oil and butter in an ovenproof frying pan and cook the squash on one side for about four minutes or until nicely browned. Turn the slices of squash then add enough dashi and wine to come to just below the top of the squash. Transfer to the oven and cook for about 30 minutes or until the squash is very soft and most of the liquid has evaporated. Trim away the skin and pulp just before serving.
For the turnips, coat the turnips with the oil, salt, and pepper in a roasting pan and roast in the oven for 45 minutes.
For the peas, boil the dashi in a small pan and blanch the peas until they are just tender. Drain well then remove the outer skin of the peas and set the peas aside.
For the miso mustard, whisk together the miso, mustard, vermouth, dashi, and egg yolk in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, taking care that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly, until emulsified. Whisk in parmesan and keep warm.
For the dashi pearls, mix together the cooled dashi, shoyu, mirin, yuzu juice and sodium alginate using a stick blender until completely blended then set aside to let the air bubbles dissipate. Blend together the calcium chloride and 1.5 litres/2 pints 12fl oz water until the powder has completely dissolved. Using a pipette, drop the dashi mixture into the calcium chloride bath, leave for 45 seconds, then remove with a small slotted spoon and rinse under cold water.
To serve, set the squash in the center of the plate and pour a small pool of its braising liquid into the middle. Arrange the pork on top of this sauce, balancing the celery on top of the pork. Spoon some miso mustard around the squash, and arrange the turnips on the rim of the squash. Mix together the peas and dashi pearls and arrange on top of the mustard and pork. Garnish with the cresses.
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As the final week of heats begins, five more amateur cooks enter the competition.