Braised Pork Belly (Kakuni) 角煮

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Braised Pork Belly (Kakuni) #recipe | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

Kakuni (角煮) is Japanese braised pork belly, and it literary means “square simmered” referring to the shape of this dish. I’m not usually into fatty meat but there is something about this dish that I cannot resist. Slow cooking method turns the meat into a delicious creation.

Braised Pork Belly (Kakuni) #recipe | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

For my day-to-day cooking, I enjoy experimenting with existing recipes to see if I can improve them. I had been cooking this Kakuni recipe until one day my husband asked if the meat can be softer after I made it. I kept experimenting different methods and changing the ingredients’ portions, and I think I finally got the recipe that will melt in your mouth.

The key for good Kakuni recipe is the initial simmering. For this recipe, I spent 2-3 hours of simmering the meat, but you could spend additional hours doing so if you have the time. This important process renders out the majority of fat from the pork belly and makes the meat and the fat have that melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Although it takes hours of preparation (unless you have a pressure cooker), the result is really worth it. If you plan to cook this for your family, I would recommend you to make double portion. Since you have to spend hours in the kitchen anyway, you might want to make extra for a second meal. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does.

Braised Pork Belly (Kakuni) #recipe | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.comDon’t want to miss a recipe? Sign up for the FREE Just One Cookbook newsletter delivered to your inbox! And stay in touch on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram for all the latest updates. Thank you so much for reading, and till next time!

Braised Pork Belly (Kakuni)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Pound the pork on both sides with a meat pounder (or edge of knife (not the sharp side)).
  2. Then mold the meat back into the original shape with your hands, and then cut into 2 inch pieces.
  3. Heat oil on the heavy skillet over medium high heat and put the fattiest part on the bottom. Cook the meat until all sides are nicely browned. To prevent from oil splatter, you can use a splatter screen.
  4. When the meat is nicely browned, transfer it to paper towel and wipe off excess fat.
  5. Slice the ginger and cut green part of Tokyo Negi into 2 inche pieces.
  6. With the white part of Tokyo Negi, make Shiraga Negi for garnish (See How To Make Shiraga Negi).
  7. In a large pot, put the browned pork belly, green part of Tokyo Negi, half of sliced ginger (save some for later), and pour water to cover the meat.
  8. Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 2-3 hours, turning occasionally (if you want really tender meat, cook for at least 3 hours). When the liquid is running low, keep adding water (or hot water) to cover the meat.
  9. Meanwhile make 3 hard boiled eggs (Check How To Make Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs).
  10. After cooking for 2 hours, take out the meat and wipe off excess oil with paper towel.
  11. In another large pot (I use a cast iron pot), put the pork belly, dashi stock, sake, and mirin. Start cooking on medium high heat.
  12. Add sugar, soy sauce, the rest of ginger slices, and the red chili pepper (I remove the seeds for my kids.).
  13. When boiling, lower the heat but keep simmering. Place Otoshibuta on top (If you don't have an Otoshibuta, make one! See How To Make Otoshibuta). We’ll be cooking for 1 hour.
  14. After cooking for 30 minutes, add the hard boiled eggs. Remove otoshibuta and continue simmering.
  15. Simmer for another 30 minutes. Once in a while pour the sauce on top of the meat and rotate the meat and eggs. Make sure you have enough liquid so they won’t get burnt. When the sauce gets reduced and the meat has nice glaze, it’s ready to serve. Serve the pork belly and eggs with Shiraga Negi on top.
  16. If you prefer this dish to be less oily and have more flavor, wait for another day. Cool down the pot completely and store it in the refrigerator overnight. Next day take out the pot from the refrigerator and remove the solidified fat before heating up. Heat thoroughly and serve the pork belly and eggs with Shiraga Negi on top.
Notes
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

 

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  1. Hi Nami! Kakuni is one of my favourite Japanese dishes! It’s very similar to a Chinese dish but you can definitely taste the sake and mirin in the Japanese one! hahaa.. Whenever I go to an Izakaya restaurant I definitely will order Kakuni! And my favourite ones are the ones that absolutely MELTS in your mouth! just like yours!! I shall try your recipe one day! Thanks for sharing and experimenting!! <3 xoxo

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  2. OMG This would be such an amazing dish to have for dinner! Succulent pork belly MEAT! I am so jealous of your husband and children as they get to eat all your yummy dishes! SIGHHHHH i’m not sure that I will have the skill or patience to make this but put it on my list and maybe one day!

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  3. OH. MY. GOODNESS. This is amazing. Anything with pork belly will surely make my family excited at the dinner table. The first part of your cooking, I thought I was seeing our own Filipino Lechon, crisp pork belly. But then I see you made a nice broth for it to go into. I must make your recipe – will bookmark this. I think 1 lb. is not enough for my hungry family — might make it 2-3 lbs. Thanks for sharing, Nami. I’ll let you know how my dish turns out.

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  4. Pork belly dish always interest me because pork belly is one of my favourite ….. I don’t mind how long this pork belly gonna cook in long hours because I know this is superb tasty and delicious!!! And yes worthy to give this a try.

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  5. Hi Nami, I love kakuni as a topping with my ramen. If I see it on the menu, I will order it. I think this dish is quite similar to the braised pork belly with soy sauce that the Chinese do. We also simmer it for 2-3 hours to get the soft melt-in-yr-mouth texture.

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  6. It is fun taking older recipes and improving upon them. It’s our mama’s food, but not the dish our mama made. :) I tried braised pork belly a couple of month’s ago and found it too fatty; however, it didn’t look like yours at all. Yours looks like the fat has been rendered perfectly! I could definitely enjoy this dish!

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    • Hi Lail! I’m not familiar with beef belly. Are they pretty fatty?? If it gets very tender by cooking for a long time I think it’s a good substitution. :)

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  7. This is a favorite dish of mine. Served with a warm bowl of rice is just comforting. My mom makes braised pork belly once a while, the chinese style 😉 of course and the herbs and aroma is intoxicating. I definitely can imagine yours to be seriously drool worthy too. Have a great week! Hugs, Jo

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  8. I make a Chinese version of this dish from time to time, especially in the winter. 😉 It’s really good and warm up your whole body. And I’ve tried the Japanese version at a restaurant a while ago. It was just as delicious, if not better. I think most of the ingredients are the same. Except the Chinese one use ShaoXing cooking wine (plus rock sugar) and the Japanese one use mirin. :) I really love this dish. I love your food styling too. It’s not easy to make a brown piece of meat looks wonderful in pictures and you did it!

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  9. Candice

    I normally don’t like eating meat, let it alone fatty meat. However this dish looks absolutley divine. I would definitely invest time into preparing this dish on a weekend. =)

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  10. Hi Nami, long time no talk! Looks like you had a great trip at Taiwan, lots of yummies.

    I am making a much much more simplified braised pork recipe right now, in fact the slow cooker is doing all the work, I am sure your pork belly dish has a much better flavor depth though!

    Are you getting ready for the holidays? Our house is officially done, I signed off on the repair works yesterday, Jon’s been obsessed with cleaning the floor since the dark laminate got put in. He mentioned how much pet hair there is, I told him sorry we are not getting rid of the pets due to the mess they make. Haha!

    I am taking it easy with work during the Month of December, still designing here and there, though mostly just reading, learning, and gearing up for the new year. Though I do wonder what’s going to happen on December 21 (Mayan Calendar), maybe all these prep is unnecessary if the calendar is correct. Hope not!

    I have been enjoying the newly renovated kitchen, though still not posting on my blog. Facebook makes it so convenient to share photos, so my lazy bone is winning the battle, and I just can’t get into the swing of writing blog postings. Maybe I will pick it back up in 2013.

    Have a great week!

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  11. I love the simplicity and purity of ingredients in this recipe and what amazes me most I think about Japanese cuisine generally, is that despite this simplicity, there is enormous flavour through the use of key ingredients… a pretty wonderful return. Your step by step illustrations are so helpful Nami. Great recipe.

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  12. I had a pork belly ones at Morimoto restaurant in Philadelphia, it was divine, very soft. You have the most interesting recipes here. I would love to learn to cook Japanese food, maybe one day when I visit you and we can cook together!

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  13. you had me at pork belly and melt in the mouth! ^^ initially i thought it’d be something like the braised pork belly served in most chinese homes, but it isn’t. your recipe sounds interesting and i’d really love to try this ^^

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  14. Rena

    Hi Nami
    I just bought dashi in a box that
    stated 4gram per packet,I was
    wondering how many cups of water
    should I dilute with?
    Thanks

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    • Hi Rena!

      Sorry for my late response. My dashi pack is 9 gram per packet and I use 3 cups of water. Your package might have instruction written in the back (but could be in Japanese?), but you probably need 1 1/2 cup.

      Hope this helps! :)

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  15. Nami, I also love pork belly… Smoked or not, I love it as much as ribs. I have never tried slowly braising it, however. It sounds very intriguing and tempting!
    And if it’s served with eggs, then it is definitely my kind of meal.
    I had no idea about the collagen in pork belly. It will be probably an excuse next time I buy it 😉

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  16. I am into fatty meat, I am telling ya, esp. pork belly. What is braised pork belly without the fats? Thanks for sharing the step-by-step instructions including the photos. The Chinese also braise pork belly, and often five-spice is being used in the braising liquid.

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  17. I LOVE buta no kakuni! And I’m always looking for a good recipe! Definitely a must-try…I can’t wait to try this, Nami! I can eat pork belly all day long…if only they’re not so fatty…I guess moderation is key. But my oh my, I can eat LOTS of this. I have a hard time controlling my appetite when faced with a delicious kakuni dish like this! Will actually try this this weekend! I need to buy one of those otoshibuta! I don’t know why we don’t use this more! It really helps the meat to become more tender.

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  18. Ooh, I have a pressure cooker and we almost never use it… I want to make more stuff with it. Does using a pressure cooker have any negative effects compared to the slower method? I’d really like to give this a try – looks so yummy

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    • Hi Charles! I don’t think so… Some people use a pressure cooker to cook and I wish I have one too! Let me know how it goes if you decide to make this dish. :)

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  19. I love pork belly and I don’t care being greasy because fat is what make it very juicy, tender, and flavorful. You cooking this twice must be almost like silk in tenderness. Beautiful dish, Nami. Making me hungry. :)

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  20. Kathy Esguerra

    oh gosh, i miss pork so much…i already bookmarked this so that when we go to Philippines for vacation, i can try this 😀 you’re making me drool Nami by just looking at the pictures :)

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  21. Wow! I love pork belly. I had it for the first time in Hawaii this year. It’s amazing! This looks like a great treat for the family. Good idea to make leftovers since it does take so long to make. I bet it’s well-worth it though. :)

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  22. Nami, what an intriguing recipe – you really explained all the steps so well, there is nothing that can go wrong when trying this recipe – it is rather easy to find porc belly around here (we are a nation of devoted porc eaters after all) and this would just be perfect for a meal during the holidays when we spent some time at home and lots of it in the kitchen. Very lovely!

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    • Thank you SO much for letting me know. I emailed the site and ask them to remove my content and pictures (I found at least 3 of my posts were stolen by this site). It’s such a shame for a pretty well-known website to steal someone’s contents which have copyright. If they won’t remove my site, I’ll report to Google and other search engines. Thank you very much for noticing and letting me know.

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  23. Baby Doctor

    Hi Nami! I tried this recipe for dinner tonight. It tasted so Japanese! I couldn’t believe it. My husband liked it too. I love Japanese food, and I can hardly find a restaurant in Singapore serving authentic Japanese food. Tonight I cooked one. Thanks a lot!

    I’ve been familiarized with Japanese taste when I was still working in a manufacturing plant in the Phils. (a Japanese company’s subsidiary). Japanese bosses and friends would bring me to restaurants serving authentic Japanese foods both in the Philippines and in Japan (when we have business trips).

    Oh, we have a common friend, Yukako. In fact, I learned about your website through her FB acct. So grateful to her for introducing your website to me.

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    • Hi Baby Doctor! Thank you so much for writing. Yukako mentioned a long time ago that you are very good friend of her, so I was happy when I received this message. I’m really thrilled to hear you gave my recipe a try and liked it! She was actually here in the US on vacation and she left for Japan when I received your message. What a coincidence! Thank you for following my blog! :)

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      • Baby Doctor

        Yukako just sent me an e-mail telling me about her vacation. I miss her a lot.
        Call me Baby (I know it’s strange, but it’s part of my first name). Doctor is my husband’s surname. Haha! I tried your other recipes before but I didn’t get the authentic Japanese taste. Well, it’s because I didn’t follow the recipe (I substituted some ingredients). This is your first recipe that I followed 100%. I learned my lesson. I’ll let you know when I try your other recipes again.
        Keep up the good work!

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        • Hi Baby (that’s right, Yukako call you “Baby”)! She’s my best friend from college here. :) Thanks for your kind words and hope you enjoy other recipes as well!

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  24. Natalia

    I bought pork belly today and look forward to making this recipe. Have you ever tried to do the braising in a slow cooker? I’m tempted as I would like to cook this on a weeknight but don’t want to sacrifice taste. Thanks!

    90
    • Hi Natalia! I don’t own a slow cooker, so I’ve never tried making it. However, I’m sure you can use it from Step #11. I don’t know if you need more liquid to cook for a slow cooker, but you can also put otoshibuta inside the slow cooker to make sure the flavors go around evenly. Hope it will work out. :)

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  25. Jacqui

    Hi Nami,
    Last night was the first time I have ever cooked Japanese following your instructions for Yaki Udon. This is a simple and easy to follow recipe and most of all it was so scrumptious (my youngest son went for second! He is extremely fussy!) and I could easily take this to work instead of buying takeaway!

    Tonight I made Pork Belly. Boy, that was a long process! I had to take a 20 minutes nap during the simmering stage! In between the simmering I also made desert which all came together at the same time.

    I have one issue. I did double this recipe as I have too many mouths to feed and I knew they would go for second. My concern is with the simmering stage I did not lose any liquid nor did I lose any at the time where you put the rest of the ingredients, therefore, the meat did not get the glazed. Are we suppose to put less liquid in when we are doubling and also less sugar? (it was quite sweet) All in all the Pork Belly was devine! It still melted in your mouth and the fat you cannot even taste, it just blended with the flesh, for the sweetness, I made a side plate of mixed steamed vegetables as well as rice. Thank you for sharing this and the many more recipes I have listed to try out on weekends. Happy Girls Day!

    Jacqui
    Melbourne, Australia.

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    • Happy Girl’s Day Jacqui! Thank you for writing, and I’m glad you enjoyed both Yaki Soba and the Pork Belly. :)

      Regarding the liquid that wasn’t reduced… it depends on the cooking heat, the size of pot, etc. Was it constantly simmering (not boiling, but simmering)? Between step 14 to 15, there is no lid (otoshibuta) required, so the sauce evaporates during this time. However, if you take a look at my last photo, I still have some liquid left. Since you double the amount of liquid, maybe you mean you had a lot more? As long as the meat does not overlap in your pot that you are using, you do not need to double the amount of liquid. You want to make sure that the meat is covered with liquid at least 80%, then otoshibuta will help the liquid goes around while simmering. I hope this makes sense… :)

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  26. sita

    I am obsessed with all of your recipes! This one in particular! The Okinawan Restaurant the boyfriend and I go to has a Shoyu Ramen that tastes just like this, the only thing is that they sear the pork belly at the end as well! I made this following the recipe but multiplied ingredients by four and used the liquid as broth for my Ramen. I only used a couple of pieces of pork belly for my ramen but I stored the rest for the next day to serve like in this recipe! The boyfriend compared it to our favorite Okinawan Restaurant and said it might even be better! Thanks!

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    • Hi Sita! Aww thanks so much! I’m really happy to hear you enjoy my blog! Thanks for trying out this recipe. I’m thinking about making seared version this year… since I have to make use of my cooking torch. 😀 Thank you for your feedback. Now I want to go to your OKinawan restaurant… :)

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  27. Thank you Nami for sharing this dish. I have made it 3 times and it is always a huge hit. I plan on making a book of all of my favourite recipes as gifts to my family and it goes without saying this will be in it. It was my number 1 dish of 2013!! Thank you so much!

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  28. John Magee

    I was Thinking about Trying Your same Method on how you cook the Pork Belly But Use an Slow Cooker and cook the Pork Belly???

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    • Hi Naty! It should work – I just got a pressure cooker/slow cooker machine and will have to try all the long-cooking recipes with this new machine. Hope it’ll work out! :)

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  29. Kassie

    Hello!~

    I was wondering if the portion you’re using is the double portion or just a single portion? As you were saying that it is best to make double portion because it takes a long time to make and it is absolutely delicious :)

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    • Hi Kassie! I suggest to make double portion (especially a family of four like us) but the recipe wasn’t double portion. I’ve been making double portion for my own use, but that can be a lot of meat for a couple or single person. 😀 Hope that helps!

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  30. Laishan

    Dear Nami,
    Your recipes has been my The-Go-To when it comes to Japanese food. This Kakuni recipe is especially delicious. The pork belly turned out SO soft and tender it just melts in your mouth. It is the right amount of flavoring and even better the next day. I doubled the portion when I made this for my family and they loved it! My total cook time was 4.5 hours, simmering in low heat as instructed. I left the skin on and it didn’t turn out rubbery. Thank you so much for sharing you wonderful recipes!

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    • Hi Lashan! Thank you so much for trying this recipe and I’m so happy to hear you enjoy it! Good to know you could make it with the skin on. Thank you for your kind feedback! :)

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