Buta No Kakuni (Japanese Braised Pork Belly)

Japanese braised pork belly recipe

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
Total: 2 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
780 Calories
54g Fat
25g Carbs
38g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 780
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 54g 70%
Saturated Fat 16g 79%
Cholesterol 179mg 60%
Sodium 1317mg 57%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 21g
Protein 38g
Vitamin C 1mg 5%
Calcium 48mg 4%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 581mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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 is 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, tender piece of 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.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tablespoon canola oil

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless pork rib

  • 2 inches fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 1 green onion, negi, cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces

  • 2 cups water

  • 1/2 cup cooking sake

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce

  • 1/3 cup mirin

  • 1/4 cup sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Japanese braised pork belly
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  2. In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Sear the pork for a few minutes on both sides to help eliminate some of the fat.

    Pork browning in a pan
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  3. Remove the pork from the skillet and place it on paper towels to drain.

    Pork draining on paper towels
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  4. In a large pan, boil enough water so that the pork will be just submerged underwater. Add the pork, thinly sliced ginger, and chopped green onions (negi).

    Pot with water, pork, ginger, and green onions
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  5. Cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer the pork for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.

    Covered pot
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  6. Drain the pork and cut into 1 1/2-inch thick blocks.

    Drained pork on a cutting board cut into cubes
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  7. In a large pot, add 2 cups of water, sake, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat.

    Glaze ingredients added to a pot
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  8. Add the cooked pork to the sauce and turn the heat down to low.

    Pork added to pot
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  9. Put a drop lid over the pork.

    Drop lid sitting on top of the pork
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  10. Simmer until the sauce is reduced and practically gone. Serve immediately. garnishing with additional green onions, if desired. Enjoy.

    Braised pork belly in the pot
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Tips

  • If you don't have a drop lid, cut out a piece of aluminum foil to fit inside the pot and top with a small plate to weigh down the pork.
  • If you don't have mirin try dry sherry. You can also use a dry white wine, but add a little extra sugar to counteract any sourness.

Why is my braised pork belly tough?

Pork belly contains a lot of fat, so if it is not cooked long enough to render the fat, a lot of chewy fat can be left behind, making it tough. Cook it low and slow for the most tender results, with a quick blast of heat at the end to crisp the skin.

Do you leave skin on pork belly?

The skin is usually left on pork belly since it can become very crispy, balancing the melty fat within. If you are making a larger cut of pork belly, score the skin before you begin to help the fat break down.