Kakuni is a Japanese braised pork dish and the literal translation is “square-simmered.” It’s made of thick cubes of pork belly simmered in sake, soy sauce and sugar/mirin. I use Chinese rock sugar to substitute sugar/mirin for this dish. I believe by using Chinese rock sugar the sweetness is just perfect compared to sugar or mirin. The pork is cooked for a long time over low heat and the meat becomes moist and extremely tender.
If you only look at the cooking time you might be hesitant to try this recipe. But trust me, the end result will be worth all the time and effort you put in. Japanese restaurants tend to charge quite a bit for this dish, but you now know why – it takes long time to make this. I would recommend you to try this dish on rainy days since you are stuck at home anyhow. Also, I’d recommend you to cook double the amount I listed below (4 servings instead of 2). The meat will shrink a lot while cooking and since it takes the same amount of time to make more . Enjoy!
Update: Have new version of Braised Pork Belly Kakuni recipe.
- ¾ lb pork belly block
- 1 tsp. Konbucha (or replace with salt)
- 1 Tokyo Negi
- 2 inch ginger
- 1 Tbsp. oil
- Water for boiling
- 1/3 cup sake
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 2 ice-cube sized rock sugar (or 2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. sugar)
- 2 cups water
- 2 boiled eggs
- Shichimi (seven flavor chili pepper) (optional)
- Cut the meat into 2 inch pieces and sprinkle Konbucha.
- Cut Tokyo Negi into 2 inch pieces and also make Shiraga Negi. Slice ginger thinly.
- In a large non-stick frying pan, heat oil on high heat and cook until all sides are nicely browned. It will take some time.
- Meanwhile, fill water half way in a medium saucepan. Add 1/3 of chopped Tokyo Negi and 1/3 of sliced ginger. When boiling, turn off the heat and cover.
- After the meat is nicely browned, transfer it to the saucepan. Heat up the saucepan until it boils, then reduce heat to medium and cook covered for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, transfer the pork into another pot (I use a Dutch oven here) and discard the liquid. In the new pot, add sake, soy sauce, rock sugar, water, the rest of chopped Tokyo Negi and sliced ginger, and boiled eggs.
- Place Otoshibuta (drop lid) in the pot. Cook for 90 minutes on medium (or medium low) heat. Every 20-30 minutes, turn over the meat and eggs. If the liquid starts to evaporate too fast, lower the heat. You can add water if it’s getting too low, but it shouldn’t be necessary. For the last 5 minutes or so, stay around the kitchen to make sure not to burn.
- This is after 90 minutes. There are still some liquid left.
- Remove Otoshibuta and continue cooking. At this point, there is not too much liquid left, so stay right next to the stove, turning the meat around. When you start to see small bubbles around the pot, it’s done. Serve the meat on a plate.
- Cut the eggs in half and serve on the plate. The meat has enough taste already but if you want, you can pour more sauce over the meat. On top of the meat, garnish with Shiraga Negi and sprinkle Shichimi.