Japanese Braised Pork Belly (Buta no kakuni)

Japanese Braised Pork Belly (Buta no kakuni)

Japanese Braised Pork Belly (Buta no kakuni)

Buta no kakuni or Braised Pork Belly is the Japanese counterpart of the Chinese braised belly, it is a pork dish made by slowly braised in a mix of soy sauce, sake, anise, ginger and sugar.  The pork cut used is the belly; it is the same part used for bacon hence the layers of fat you see in the photo.  This part is a common ingredient in Asian cuisines and one of the best parts of meat to use as it contain a lot of fat helping to maintain the moisture on meats even with long periods of cooking.

Kakuni in Japanese means “square simmered” due to the fact that it is made out of large square chunks of pork meat.  This dish is a popular regional product of Nagasaki; the influence of this dish is Chinese and started to evolve during the Ming Dynasty and Song Dynasty when the Sino-Japanese trading route was created between Hangzhou and Kyushu.  During those times many Chinese nationals lived in major Kyushu port cities such as Nagasaki; on the other hand there are also a lot of Japanese nationals that live in Hangzhou.  During those times this dish became really popular.

There are several similar dishes that might look the same across the South East and East Asian region where this fatty part of pork is slowly braised like the Bak Kut Teh in Malaysia, the Adobo in the Philippines and the Thit Heo Kho of Vietnam to name some.  The cooking methods of those dishes are the same but it is adjusted to the local taste of each country.

This is a really good simple dish and once done properly the flavours will be superb and the meat texture is so tender it melts in your mouth.

Ingredients

800g pork belly, cubed
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sake
1 cup dashi stock
2 cups water
1 tbsp ginger paste
2 stalks spring onions or negi, separate white and greens
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 pcs star anise
bok choy
mustard (optional)

Method

  1. In a heavy pot add a very small amount of oil then brown pork belly on all sides.  Once it turns golden brown add the ginger paste and white part of the spring onions, stir fry for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the sugar and let it caramelize on the bottom of the pot, do not burn.  Once sugar is melted combine it with the pork, make sure pork is coated with the caramel.
  3. Pour the dashi stock, water, soy sauce, sake, and star anise.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer in low heat while covered for 2 hours.
  4. Cook your bok choy by placing it in boiling water for 30 seconds and running them in cold water.  Set this aside.
  5. Once pork is cooked, place in serving bowls with some sauce (get the bottom part, the top would be very oily) garnished with chopped spring onions.  Serve with rice or ramen, bok choy and mustard (In Japan they dab meat with mustard)

19 Responses

  1. bellacorea says:

    Um..watering mouth… Yes, this part, pork belly is so popular among all over the Asia! Can I use white wine instead of sake?

  2. This looks pretty yummy. My boy is obssessed with pork belly so I should do this as a surprise dish sometime

  3. Nors says:

    Panalo yung taba nun pre ha

  4. Sammie says:

    Totally did not know about the history of this dish! So interesting! I’m a huge fan of Bak Kut Teh and Adobo but never tried the Japanese variation of it. Now that you’ve spelled out its connections and similarity, it all makes sense! Thanks Raymund!

  5. Pork belly is one of my favorite things ever!! I’ve had Chinese braised pork belly but haven’t had it quite like this. Sounds delicious!!!

  6. what a coincidence! i just made buta no kakuni last week! the only difference with my (my grndma’s actually) recipe and yours is the dashi stock! i should try this some time!

  7. Gorgeous – there seem to be a lot of us cooking pork belly this week! Love this recipe, and am just off to look up dashi stock as I don´t know what it is.

  8. peasepudding says:

    I love the ingredients in this pork dish, I have some belly pork on the freezer and will the recipe. Love the autumnal leaves

  9. foodjaunts says:

    Pork belly is crazy delicious to start with and the way you’ve braised it here makes it looks absolutely delicious.

  10. Kristy says:

    Love the star anise in the picture! It totally drew me in. :)

  11. Yeah, I agree that substituting one braising liquid ingredient for another could really spell the difference between one food culture to another, but it’s also really nice to see and taste the similarities. Well done! :D

  12. I don’t think that I have ever had pork belly Raymund. Weird right? But this looks delicious and I think will be pretty tasty.

  13. I like the leaves for decoration too!

  14. What a wonderful spice combo. Looks delicious.

  15. Carolyn Chan says:

    Any dish where you braise pork belly is a winner for me !

  16. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    I have quite some catch up on your posts today. So happy to see you cooked Kakuni! Star anise is a nice addition!

  17. How did I miss this? This is absolutely wonderful. Must try when freezers are empty.

  18. ejaybabes] says:

    magkano po ang serve ng apanese Braised Pork Belly (Buta no kakuni)

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