Japanese Braised Pork Belly, Buta no Kakuni

Japanese Braised Pork BellyThis is my favorite Japanese dish ever.  I am serious.  I still remember the first time I tried this dish.  We were at my Mom’s friends’ restaurant that was ten minutes away from where we lived in Japan.  They owned a traditional, Japanese restaurant that was very popular in our neighborhood and always packed with customers.  We went there often.  I was still in middle school and quite picky about Japanese food.  I preferred western style food when I was a kid so it had to be something really special for me to even try it.

My father was the one who always ordered the Buta no Kakuni.  It was a favorite of his and he always got so excited when they brought it to the table.  I thought it looked weird and didn’t want to even try it at first but the expression on my fathers’ face when he would eat it made me curious.  Well, I found out why he loved it so much when I took that first bite of melt-in-your-mouth pork belly.  Wow, so tender and sweet with a hint of soy sauce and the kick of spicy, Japanese mustard (a must when you eat this dish).  I was hooked and had to order it at every Japanese restaurant that had it on the menu after that.

Of course I was living in Japan at the time so it wasn’t hard to find Buta no Kakuni on the menu but once I moved to Seattle there wasn’t a restaurant around that made it the way I remembered it.  That meant one thing, I must make it myself.  I have to admit, I was very intimidated by pork belly at first and about getting the recipe right.  I searched Japanese cookbooks and magazines and came across an old issue of the Kyo no Ryori cooking show’s magazine that had a traditional Buta no Kakuni recipe.  It’s a very long but perfect recipe.  It goes through all the necessary steps to make this dish the right way.  It’s probably the most time-consuming recipe I’ve posted on my blog but I wanted you to know how this dish is supposed to taste.  Just give yourself a few hours on the weekend or on a rainy day and make it.  I guarantee you you’ll be so glad you did and understand why this is one of my favorites (It’s even better the next day so I double the recipe).

Ingredients:

2 1/2 pounds Pork Belly (without skin)
1 2-inch piece of fresh Ginger cut in half (skin on)
Green tops of one bunch of scallions
1/2 cup sake
5 Tablespoons sugar (I use superfine)
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Mirin

Japanese Braised Pork Belly ingredientsFor serving:
Karashi (Japanese hot yellow mustard)

Preparation:

1.  Fill a large pot of water (large enough to submerge the pork belly and one that has a lid, you will need it later) bring to a boil and add the pork belly.

2.  When the outside of the pork belly turns white, about 1-2 minutes, remove the pork & dump out the water.

3.  Rinse the pork belly under lukewarm water, pat dry.

4.  Heat a large skillet and sear the pork belly, starting with the fat side down.  Sear all the sides evenly until brown.

Japanese Braised Pork Belly in skillet

5.  In the same large pot you used earlier, add pork belly, ginger and green onion tops, cover with water, turn heat on high.  When water reaches a boil, turn heat down to low and skim the scum from the surface.

Japanese Braised Pork Belly being cooked

6.  Add a kamibuta, or paper lid (I made one out of aluminum foil, note photo) and simmer for an hour and a half.  Remove pot from the heat and leave the meat to cool in the liquid in the pot, about 30-40 minutes.  Set the aluminum foil lid on the side, you will use it again.

Japanese Braised Pork Belly with kamibuta

7.  Remove the pork belly from liquid and cut in 1 1/2 inch pieces (you can discard the liquid or save it to use for soup later).

8.  Put the pork belly back into the pot and cover with enough water so it reaches one inch above the meat.  Add the sake, turn heat on high.  When the liquid boils, put on the aluminum foil lid again and simmer 15 minutes.

9.  Move aluminum foil lid a little to the side so you can add the sugar and soy sauce, put aluminum foil lid back on and add the regular lid to the pot with a 2-inch opening and simmer 20 minutes longer.

10.  Remove both the aluminum foil lid & regular lid and continue cooking until liquid is reduced by half, about 40 minutes.  Turn meat over once halfway through.

11.  Add the mirin and simmer 2-3 minutes.  Serve the Buta no Kakuni with Karashi (Japanese hot mustard) on the side.  The spicy mustard compliments the sweetness of this dish very well.  I like serving it with Japanese rice and a green vegetable on the side.  Makes 2 large or 4 small servings.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Japanese Braised Pork Belly, Buta no Kakuni
Serves: 2-4
 
Ingredients
  • 2½ pounds Pork Belly (without skin)
  • 1 2-inch piece of fresh Ginger cut in half (skin on)
  • Green tops of one bunch of scallions
  • ½ cup sake
  • 5 Tablespoons sugar (I use superfine)
  • ½ cup Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Mirin
Instructions
  1. Fill a large pot of water (large enough to submerge the pork belly and one that has a lid, you will need it later) bring to a boil and add the pork belly.
  2. When the outside of the pork belly turns white, about 1-2 minutes, remove the pork & dump out the water.
  3. Rinse the pork belly under lukewarm water, pat dry.
  4. Heat a large skillet and sear the pork belly, starting with the fat side down. Sear all the sides evenly until brown.
  5. In the same large pot you used earlier, add pork belly, ginger and green onion tops, cover with water, turn heat on high. When water reaches a boil, turn heat down to low and skim the scum from the surface.
  6. Add a kamibuta, or paper lid (I made one out of aluminum foil, note photo) and simmer for an hour and a half. Remove pot from the heat and leave the meat to cool in the liquid in the pot, about 30-40 minutes. Set the aluminum foil lid on the side, you will use it again.
  7. Remove the pork belly from liquid and cut in 1½ inch pieces (you can discard the liquid or save it to use for soup later).
  8. Put the pork belly back into the pot and cover with enough water so it reaches one inch above the meat. Add the sake, turn heat on high. When the liquid boils, put on the aluminum foil lid again and simmer 15 minutes.
  9. Move aluminum foil lid a little to the side so you can add the sugar and soy sauce, put aluminum foil lid back on and add the regular lid to the pot with a 2-inch opening and simmer 20 minutes longer.
  10. Remove both the aluminum foil lid & regular lid and continue cooking until liquid is reduced by half, about 40 minutes. Turn meat over once halfway through.
  11. Add the mirin and simmer 2-3 minutes. Serve the Buta no Kakuni with Karashi (Japanese hot mustard) on the side. The spicy mustard compliments the sweetness of this dish very well. I like serving it with Japanese rice and a green vegetable on the side. Makes 2 large or 4 small servings.

 

Comments

  1. Thanks for posting this, Shirley! You have no idea: YOU crossed my mind the other day when I was thinking of what new recipes to try with pork belly!

  2. Shirley says:

    Thank you for the comment! It’s a great recipe, takes a few hours but SO worth it. You’ll love it.

  3. fran leibow says:

    hi shirley,
    it’s fran, peggy’s friend. love it all. rice bowl is one of my favorites, also, okonomi-yaki, which i
    discovered in honolulu years ago.

  4. Shirley says:

    Hello & thank you for visiting my blog! I’m going to be having an Okonomiyaki cooking class soon and will be posting the recipe. It’s one of my favorites 🙂

  5. Very subtle n meltingly soft!

  6. Michael Arnold says:

    Thank you. Excellent recipe. Tastes just like what I would order in Niigata City. Love it with rice & a side of strwed lotus! And I then use the leftover stock for my ramen. Not quite Tonkatsu broth, bit still excellent.

Leave a Reply to Kate Cancel reply

*

Rate this recipe:  

css.php