A blue plate containing 2 slices of Rafute (Okinawan Braised Pork Belly) garnished with julienned ginger.


Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: awamori, black sugar, braised pork belly, okinawan food, pork belly
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 4 people

So juicy and tender, this classic Okinawan Braised Pork Belly dish called Rafute (ラフテー) is slow-cooked in Awamori (Okinawa distilled liquor), Okinawan black sugar, and soy sauce. It’s a savory, sweet, home cooked meat dish with a melt in your mouth texture that is found on dinner tables throughout Okinawa, Japan.




  1. Gather all the ingredients.

    Rafute Ingredients
  2. Place the pork belly in a large pot (skin side up). Add cold water just enough to cover and bring to boil.
    Rafute 1
  3. Boil for 1 minute and discard the water.
    Rafute 2
  4. Rinse off scum and foam from the pork belly under cold water. Quickly rinse the pot, put the pork belly back in the pot, and fill with cold water.
    Rafute 3
  5. Bring the pot to a boil once again, and skim off scum and foam. Then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for at least 1 to 1.5 hours. Leave the pot uncovered so the unwanted smell won’t be trapped. If the water has evaporated and the pork belly is not covered with water, add in some boiling water. Keep skimming as needed.
    Rafute 5
  6. Meanwhile, boil 4 cups water in a small pot. Once boiling, add 2 cups katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes).

    Rafute 7
  7. Let it simmer for 15 seconds. Turn off the heat and let katsuobushi seep in the pot. Set aside. We’ll be using this katsuobushi dashi shortly.
    Rafute 8
  8. Slice the ginger and cut into julienne strips. Soak them in water for 10-15 minutes to remove some spiciness. Drain well and set aside for garnishing later.
    Rafute 9
  9. After 1 to 1.5 hours of cooking pork belly, transfer the pork to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep it from drying. Let it cool until you can touch to slice. You can reserve the pork broth for Okinawa Soba, Champon, or soup (strain and freeze it).

    Rafute 10
  10. Once the meat is cool enough for you to handle, slice the meat into 2-3 cm thickness. Add the pork belly slices in a heavy bottomed pot (I used Le Creuset).
    Rafute 11
  11. Strain the katsuobushi dashi into the pot.
    Rafute 12
  12. In the pot, add awamori, black sugar, and 2 Tbsp soy sauce.  Please read the blog post why we don't add all 5 Tbsp soy sauce at first.
    Rafute 13
  13. Mix the liquid and make sure the pork belly is covered with the sauce. Bring it to a gentle simmer and skim off any scum and foam. Place Otoshibuta (drop lid) and cook over medium low heat for 1 hour.
    Rafute 14
  14. After 1 hour has passed, add 2 Tbsp soy sauce, and cook for 30 minutes.
    Rafute 15
  15. After 30 minutes have passed, add 1 Tbsp soy sauce and cook until the pork is very tender and the skin/fat are glossy and gelatinous, roughly 15 minutes. Serve the pork belly on a plate/bowl and pour some braising liquid. Garnish with ginger slices. Enjoy rafute with steamed rice and some vegetables. You can also serve on Okinawa Soba.

    Rafute 16

Recipe 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 in your own words and link to this post as the original source.  Thank you.