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Buta Kaku Ni - Japanese Braised Pork Bellies

Buta kaku ni is braised pork belly, with a rich soy sauce and dashi-base broth, and melt-in-your-mouth tender. This is Japan's most popular pork belly dish.
Ingredients to prepare Japanese braised pork (buta kaku ni): pork belly cubes, green peas, shallot, ginger, dashi (Japanese stock), sake (Japanese rice wine), mirin, soy sauce, and sugar.

Ingredients to prepare Japanese braised pork (buta kaku ni): pork belly cubes, green peas, shallot, ginger, dashi (Japanese stock), sake (Japanese rice wine), mirin, soy sauce, and sugar.

Japanese braised pork bellies, or buta kaku ni (豚角煮), is one of the best ways to enjoy pork belly. You may think that pork belly always yield oily dish, but with boiling, most of the fat and oil would have been washed away. The end result is a pork belly dish that is flavorful and melt-in-your-mouth tender.

What is buta kaku ni?

Translated word-for-word from Japanese to English:

  • buta (豚) = pork
  • kaku (角) = square
  • ni (煮) = boiled/simmered

This dish is the most popular and most common way pork bellies are cooked and prepared in most Japanese households.

Originated in China as Dongpo Pork (东坡肉), the dish evolved as it made its way to Okinawa and eventually into main island of Japan through the port city of Nagasaki.

Pork belly in this dish is extremely melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the dashi and soy sauce-based sauce is rich with umami. You won’t hesitate to eat every single drop of the sauce with as much steamed rice as possible. In fact, the sauce is so good, people even dilute the sauce with dashi stock to create an epic sauce for a bowl of udon, aptly name buta udon.

How to cook Japanese braised pork bellies: (1) Sear pork belly cubes, then simmer the seared cubes in a pot of water for 1 hour to tenderize and to remove most of the fats. (2) Arrange drained boiled pork belly cubes in a skillet with ginger, dashi stock, and sake. Cook for 15 minutes. (3) Add soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. Simmer for 30 minutes. (4) Add shallots and frozen green peas, simmer for 5 minutes.

How to cook Japanese braised pork bellies: (1) Sear pork belly cubes, then simmer the seared cubes in a pot of water for 1 hour to tenderize and to remove most of the fats. (2) Arrange drained boiled pork belly cubes in a skillet with ginger, dashi stock, and sake. Cook for 15 minutes. (3) Add soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. Simmer for 30 minutes. (4) Add shallots and frozen green peas, simmer for 5 minutes.

What goes into this Japanese braised pork belly dish?

Buta kaku ni is a very simple homecooked family food in Japan. The ingredients for this dish are those that are common staple Japanese pantry ingredients.

We will need oil, pork belly cubes, ginger slices, pearl onions/French shallots, and frozen green peas/frozen edamames.

When you thinly slice the ginger, it is not necessary to peel the ginger as long as they are clean.

If you don’t have pearl onions or French shallots, you can also use Japanese long green onion (negi), cut into 2” pieces.

For the sauce, we will need dashi, sake (Japanese rice wine), sugar, mirin, and soy sauce.

Dashi is a Japanese stock. You can use homemade dashi, or mix together 400 ml water with 1 teaspoon instant bonito dashi granules.

For the soy sauce, I highly suggest using low-sodium soy sauce if possible. Otherwise, the dish may end up too salty.

Buta kaku ni (Japanese braised pork bellies), served in individual bowls.

Buta kaku ni (Japanese braised pork bellies), served in individual bowls.

How do you cook Japanese buta kaku ni?

1. Sear pork bellies.

First, heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan and oil are hot, sear pork belly cubes evenly until all sides are brown. Set aside.

2. Boil pork bellies.

Place seared pork belly cubes in a pot, then add enough water to cover the pork. Simmer for 1 hour, or until tender. Drain and set aside.

3. Cook pork bellies with sauce.

Arrange pork belly cubes neatly in a clean pot with ginger, dashi, and sake. Cover the pot, and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add remaining sauce ingredients (sugar, mirin, and soy sauce) and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.

4. Add vegetables.

Finally, add pearl onions/shallots and frozen green peas/edamame into the pot. Continue simmering for 5 minutes.

And the dish is done! At this point, simply turn off the heat, and divide the dish into 4 individual serving bowls. Serve the dish hot with steamed white rice.

Buta kaku ni (Japanese braised pork bellies). These pork belly cubes are melt-in-your-mouth tender, and so flavorful. You will notice that the sauce has almost no oil in it despite this being a pork belly dish.

Buta kaku ni (Japanese braised pork bellies). These pork belly cubes are melt-in-your-mouth tender, and so flavorful. You will notice that the sauce has almost no oil in it despite this being a pork belly dish.

A little resting time to improve the flavors

Buta kaku ni is very delicious eaten straight away, but if you are patience and are willing to wait overnight, you will be rewarded with an even more delicious dish!

You can store the cooked dish in an air-tight container in the fridge, then when you want to serve, you can easily remove any excess fat in the dish (if there’s any!). To serve, simply reheat the dish gently in a pot on a stovetop.

Buta Kaku Ni - Japanese Braised Pork Bellies

4.9 from 10 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson

Categories:

Cuisine:

Ingredients:

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours 15 mins

Serves: 4

Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoon oil
  • 600 gram pork belly, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 50 gram ginger, thinly sliced. It is not necessary to peel the ginger as long as they are clean.
  • 4-6 pearl onions/French shallots. You can even use one Japanese long green onion (negi), cut into 2” pieces if you wish.
  • 4 tablespoon frozen green peas/frozen edamame
  • Sauce
  • 400 ml (1 2⁄3 cup) dashi stock, preferably homemade dashi, or use 400 ml water + 1 teaspoon instant bonito dashi granules
  • 200 ml (13.5 tablespoon) sake (Japanese rice wine)
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 50 ml (3 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) mirin
  • 100 ml (6 tablespoon + 2 teaspoon) soy sauce, preferably low-sodium soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Sear pork bellies. First, heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan and oil are hot, sear pork belly cubes evenly until all sides are brown. Set aside.
  2. Boil pork bellies. Place seared pork belly cubes in a pot, then add enough water to cover the pork. Simmer for 1 hour, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
  3. Cook pork bellies with sauce. Arrange pork belly cubes neatly in a clean pot with ginger, dashi, and sake. Cover the pot, and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add remaining sauce ingredients (sugar, mirin, and soy sauce) and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
  4. Add vegetables. Finally, add pearl onions/shallots and frozen green peas/edamame into the pot. Continue simmering for 5 minutes.
  5. To serve. Turn off the heat, and divide the dish into 4 individual serving bowls. Serve the dish hot with steamed white rice.

Notes

  • (1) Buta kaku ni is very delicious eaten straight away, but if you are patience and are willing to wait overnight, you will be rewarded with an even more delicious dish!
  • (2) You can store the cooked dish in an air-tight container in the fridge, then when you want to serve, you can easily remove any excess fat in the dish (if there’s any!). To serve, simply reheat the dish gently in a pot on a stovetop.
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Comments

  • Olivia Olivia says:

    I am so glad I can make this at home now! Trying this ASAP!

  • Irina Irina says:

    I am mouthwatering looking at your pictures! I am going to study the recipe to make it tonight! :)

  • Elaine Elaine says:

    I love discovering traditional ethnic recipes like this one. Great instructions and so much flavour!

  • Carrie Robinson Carrie Robinson says:

    You had me at pork belly! This looks absolutely delicious. :)

  • michele michele says:

    When I was in Okinawa I sampled this delicious dish. How great to see it here - thanks so much for the detailed instructions!

  • Denay DeGuzman Denay DeGuzman says:

    Oh my gosh, I'm drooling just looking at these savory images! I've added all the ingredients to my grocery list. I look forward to making this for dinner tonight. Thank you so much for this restaurant-style recipe!

  • pam pam says:

    Oh my gosh, this dish is so full of flavor! The pork belly is amazing and the broth is sooo good!

  • Tisha Tisha says:

    Definitely looks like a fulfilling meal that has my mouth watering!

  • Caitlyn Erhardt Caitlyn Erhardt says:

    I love this recipe so much. The pork is super tender and flavorful.

  • Carrie Robinson Carrie Robinson says:

    I just LOVE pork belly! This looks amazing! :)

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