Buta no Kakuni (Japanese Braised Pork Belly)

Japanese Braised Pork Belly (Buta No Kakuni). Thomas Reucker/Moment Open/Getty Images
  • 2 hrs 45 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Ratings (5)

Buta-no-kakuni, is a classic Japanese dish of braised pork belly that is slowly cooked until the meat is tender, juicy and packed full of umami. It is simmered with traditional Japanese flavors that include soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar, with a hint of ginger and scallions.

Although pork belly is the cut where bacon originates, and is quite heavy in fat, you'll find that this recipe for Japanese style braised pork belly, despite flaunting thick layers of fat, is surprisingly not as greasy as you might have imagined. In fact, because the pork is simmered for an extended amount of time in a ginger and scallion bath, the amount of fat is somewhat mitigated. Only after this bath, is the pork then simmered in a fresh pot of water and sauce ingredients to season it.

Give Japanese buta-no-kakuni a try, and you might be pleasantly surprised at how a small piece of tender braised pork belly brightens up the dinner table as an appetizer or side dish. A small piece is also a wonderful addition the next day in a Japanese bento lunch.

Special Equipment:

  1. Japanese style drop lid, or aluminum foil cut out in the shape of the large pot used to braise the pork.

Article Edited by Judy Ung

What You'll Need

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless pork rib
  • Up to 1/2 tablespoon canola oil, for searing pork
  • Water for simmering pork
  • 2 inches fresh ginger root, skin peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 green onion (negi), cut into 2-3 inches long pieces
  • 2 cups water for sauce
  • 1/2 cup cooking sake
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons mirin

How to Make It

  1. In a large skillet, heat small amount of canola over medium heat. Sear the pork for a few minutes on both sides to help eliminate some of the fat. Remove the pork from the skillet and place on paper towels to drain.
  2. In a large pan, boil enough water so that the pork is just submerged under water. Add the pork, thinly sliced ginger, and chopped green onions (negi). Cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer the pork for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.
  1. Drain the pork and cut into 1 1/2 inch thick blocks.
  2. Next, in a large pot, add 2 cups of water, sake, sugar, soy sauce, and mirin and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Add the cooked pork in the pot with the sauce ingredients and turn down the heat to low. Put a drop lid over the pork and simmer until the sauce is reduced and practically gone.
  4. Serve immediately. Garnish with additional green onions, optional.