Japanese Pork Belly (Buta No Kakuni)

I love pork belly. If it’s on the menu somewhere I will most certainly choose it over virtually anything. Cooking it is sadly a harder task than making the decision to feast on it. A fail-safe treatment of the pork belly (a wonderfully economical cut to be sure) is the Japanese method of slow simmering. Not only is it easy, it also removes a good amount of fat from the cut so the health conscious will find Buta No Kakuni a wonderful guilt-free indulgence.

Japanese pork belly

The dish is generally simmered with some vegetables (shiitake mushroom, carrots, snow peas etc.) thrown in towards the end of the cooking process but as it was a spur of the moment decision to make this dish today and my crisper was bereft of veges, I made the pork up with some udon noodles. Most filling!

Buta No Kakuni

400 – 500 grams of pork belly
Simmering broth: 1/2 cup each of soy, sake & mirin with 50g of sugar & 3.5 cups of water

Cook up pork belly strips up in a hot frypan, ensuring all side of the pork belly are fried to a nice, golden brown colour. You do not need oil during this process. Once fried evenly, rinse the strips with hot water to remove excess fat. Boil 1.5 litres of water in a large saucepan and reduce to a high simmer. Add pork belly to water and simmer for roughly one hour. Remove pork belly strips and clean the saucepan in preparation for the broth mixture. Place all broth ingredients and pork belly into saucepan and place on high heat until boiling. Reduce to low simmer and leave for 30 minutes. You should add vegetables at the 15 minute mark. I added udon noodles at the end of the 30 minutes. Noodles don’t take long to prepare. You can also add a slice of ginger into the broth at the last 10 minutes if you fancy ginger. Serve pork belly in a large bowl with broth and vegetables. Japanese mustard is a common accompaniment.

For fans of slow cookers, this recipe is also perfect for that. You can simmer the pork belly (after searing in the pan and rinsing) in a shallow bath of hot water on low for a couple of hours. Remove pork belly and rinse out slow cooker bowl. Return pork belly to bowl and add broth ingredient and allow to simmer on low for a few more hours. If possible, warming up the broth ingredients to a boil would be good but the end result is still very good :)

Bring on winter!

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