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Butaniku no kakuni recipe — slow simmered pork belly shoyu and black sugar. Copyright 2015 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.
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5 from 2 votes

Butaniku no kakuni Recipe

Butaniku no kakuni is a slow-simmered pork belly dish, its deep flavours and sweetness developed during slow cooking which help cut through the rich meat and fat.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
Total Time4 hrs 15 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 6 portions
Calories: 1179kcal
Author: Jane Lawson


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 800 g piece of boneless pork belly cut into 6x4c, rectangular pieces
  • 50 g fresh ginger cut into thick slices
  • 2 pencil-thin leeks or 1 small leek, split down the centre, but kept hinged together
  • 1 litre 4 cups nib an dashi or water
  • 310 ml 1 1/4 cups sake
  • 1 ½ tablespoons usukuchi shoyu light Japanese soy
  • 1 ½ tablespoons koikuchi shoyu dark Japanese soy
  • 60 g kurosato Japanese black sugar or dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Japanese black vinegar optional
  • 4 eggs boiled for 4 minutes, then cooked and shelled (optional)
  • 6 blanched trimmed snow peas (mangetout) to garnish
  • karashi Japanese mustard or hot English mustard


  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat. Add the pork and cook, turning now and then, for about 5 minutes, until golden on all sides. Remove from the pan, place in a colander and pour boiling water over to rinse off the excess oil.
  • Place the pork in a large saucepan with the ginger, leek, dashi and sake and bring to the boil, skimming off any scum that rises to the top.
  • Add a Japanese drop-lid or a vented cartouche (a round of baking paper, with an air vent cut in the middle). Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 ¼ hours, or until the pork is quite tender.
  • Stir in the light and dark shoyu, sugar and vinegar and cook for a further 1 hour, or until the pork is very tender – as knives and forks are not served at Japanese meals, the pork should be tender enough to break with chopsticks.
  • Turn off the heat, then remove and discard the leek and ginger. Add the eggs, if using, submerging them in the liquid.
  • Allow the pork to sit and soak up more of the sauce for 45 minutes. Alternatively, you can allow the dish to cool slightly, then transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight — if you do this, you’ll be able to scrape off the excess fat that settles on the top of the dish.
  • When ready to serve, gently reheat the dish. Carefully cut the eggs in half. Serve garnished with snow peas, with the Japanese mustard on the side, to help cut through the richness.
  • If you prefer a thicker sauce, remove the pork and eggs from the pot and thicken the sauce slightly either by reducing it over the heat, or stirring in some kuzu starch or cornflour (cornstarch) that has first been mixed to a paste with a little water.


“Just like with the Chinese version, slices of this are great in steamed bread/buns with mustard.”
The recipe is from Zenbu Zen, published by Murdoch Books, and reproduced here with the permission of author Jane Lawson.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 1179kcal | Carbohydrates: 14.6g | Protein: 26.1g | Fat: 105.9g | Saturated Fat: 38.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 67.8g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 242mg | Sodium: 2037mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2.9g