Buta No Kakuni Recipe 豚の角煮 [How To Cook Japanese Braised Pork Belly]

Thursday, February 21, 2019
There was this Japanese movie I've seen years ago which title and other information, to my dismay, escaped my mind currently. What I can remember however, was this scene of a man in search of something, who chanced upon an izakaya in the middle of nowhere.

The man, obviously worn out and exhausted from his quest was fed with what the audience can surmise as the best Buta No Kakuni he has ever had in his life. That moment gave him a sort of clarity - a fresh breath of courage to continue with his journey. 

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That particular scene was very meaningful thus, it is one which to this day clings to my mind. It was bleeding with metaphorical representation of a despondent man being fed with an edible pep-talk - and a good one at that. By the end of the scene, he was beaming with optimism like that of a glistening chunks of kakuni that hopefully unlike the man's newfound courage, will melt in the mouth.

It was so subtle yet powerful. 


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I'm thinking it might be Yojiro Takita's Kirin No Shita No Kioku. But I don't know for sure because there were other Japanese movies I have watched which carries slightly the same premise. Google isn't a big help, I need to rewatch the movie and some of the other Japanese movies I've watched to know for sure. But not before I blog about this Buta No Kakuni Recipe lest I forget.

The world wide web is peppered with recipes and historical information about Buta No Kakuni (Japanese Braised Pork Belly) so, let us not further saturate the internet with that. But as a quick background, this dish is the Japanese version of the Chinese's Dong Po Rou (Braised Pork Belly) most people love.

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This is by no means the most authentic Buta No Kakuni recipe you can find online but this one works well for me. I adapted this from one of my favorite food blogs JustHungry.com because it was the easiest recipe of Buta No Kakuni I can find online. I tweaked it to my liking. I once fed this to a Japanese friend who gave me a nod of approval hence the confidence in writing this down here.

This recipe is one of those you would want to make when you have plenty of time to spare. After all, we are talking about slow braising the pork here until it reaches the texture when it's strong enough to hold its shape but tender enough to melt in your mouth at a slightest nudge.

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Sometimes, I use my trusted Instant Pot in making Buta No Kakuni especially if I'm in a rush. But this one right here is somewhat the traditional way of making it - complete with otoshibuta 落し蓋 or drop lid albeit, makeshift. 

While it takes about three hours or more to make this dish, the ingredients are quite simple. If you are cooking Japanese food fairly regularly, you might have all these ingredients around your pantry already namely pork belly, sugar, green onion, white onion, carrots, radish, soy sauce, mirin, sake, and dashi stock.

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It is said that the secret to making a really good Buta No Kakuni the two part of cooking it entails. First one is slightly frying the pork, the second is braising it for hours. Frying the pork just enough to brown its sides will give the dish a depth in taste as it seals in the flavor while braising it will make the pork's texture gelatinously soft and tender. 

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Procedure is not that labor intensive either. After gathering your ingredients, cut the pork belly into chunks. I love cutting mine into around one and a half to two inch each square pieces. Some cut it into rather thin pieces to cut down on cooking time. 

Fry the pork in a skillet with heat set on medium until each side is slightly brown. Just when it's about done, turn the heat down low, add the sugar and toss the pork for a good minute then set it aside.

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Transfer the pork into a large pot then put all the ingredients together and let it boil for an hour and a half on medium high heat, filtering out the scum from time to time. Make sure that the pork pieces are completely submerged in liquid. Once the liquid falls below the pork chunks, add more. 

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After an hour and a half, turn the heat down to low then cover the dish with otoshi buta or drop lid. The otoshi buta I have with me was way smaller than the pot I used for this recipe so I settled for a makeshift one. I just shape an aluminum foil into circle that fits inside my pot and then carved a hole in the middle.

Boiling the Kakuni

Otoshi buta is said to distribute the heat evenly inside the pot making the food inside cooked evenly with flavors sealed in securely. It also helps the ingredients hold its original shape while punching its fiber into tender melt-in-your-mouth submission. I found a good reference for otoshi buta online here which you may visit if so inclined. 

Drop Lid for Buta No Kakuni

Braised the dish for a good hour then remove the drop lid. Simmer it for another good hour until the liquid decreased significantly. When opting for and incorporating boiled egg to the dish, you may add it at this point in time. Otherwise, you may just add it as you serve the dish just like what I did in this recipe. 

Braised Japanese Pork

After simmering for an hour, turn off the heat and serve the Buta No Kakuni. Usually it is best eaten with Karashi or Japanese Hot Mustard, but not having it around wouldn't ruin the experience nonetheless. One can have it as an accompaniment to their favorite beer or liquor of choice. Also, a generous bowl of hot steamed rice is always always a good idea.

Buta No Kakuni Recipe

Buta No Kakuni Recipe 豚の角煮 [How To Cook Japanese Braised Pork Belly]

Ingredients:

  • 250 grams Pork belly, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 1 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 Stalks of Green onion cut into 4 inch long
  • 1 inch Ginger, sliced into thin pieces
  • 1 medium sized White onion, sliced
  • 1 cup Cubed radish
  • 1 cup Cubed carrots
  • 4 Tbsp. Soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. Mirin
  • 3 Tbsp. Sake
  • 2 cups Dashi stock (May be substituted with pork broth)
  • 1 cup Water
  • Boiled egg (optional)

  • Cooking Directions:

  • In a skillet on medium heat, fry pork belly cubed until brown on all sides. Just when it's about done, turn the heat on low then toss the sugar into the pork for a minute then set aside. 
  • Transfer cooked pork into a large pot, add all the ingredients making sure that the pork are fully submerged in liquid. Boil for an hour in medium high heat, filter all scum from time to time. 
  • Place the otoshi buta or drop lid into the top of the dish and braise for an hour.
  • Remove the drop lid then simmer for another hour. 
  • Serve with boiled egg and a generous bowl of steamed rice.


  • If you happen to try this recipe or if you have questions, please feel free to give me a shout out on the comment section below. I would love to hear from you. If you post a photo of any recipes you tried here on YedyLicious, please do tag me on social media (@yedylicious) and feel free to use the hashtag for it would be nice to see what you made.  


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