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 (6)

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.

Pork belly is the cut where bacon originates. and is quite heavy in fat. But the extended time that this Japanese-style braised pork belly is simmered with ginger and scallions reduces the fat in the finished dish. The pork then simmered again 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: You will need a Japanese style drop lid, or aluminum foil cut out in the shape of the large pot used to braise the pork.

What You'll Need

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

How to Make It

  1. In a large skillet, heat a small amount of canola oil 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 it 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.

Edited by Judy Ung