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Okinawa shoyu pork belly recipe

Okinawa shoyu pork belly recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Pork
  • Cuts of pork
  • Pork belly

Rich and full of flavour - pork belly is slowly simmered in a sweet and savoury mixture of soy sauce, mirin, ginger, garlic and brown sugar. Serve it over a bowl of steaming rice for a meal worth waiting for!

9 people made this

IngredientsServes: 6

  • 675g whole pork belly
  • 120ml soy sauce
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 120ml water
  • 120ml mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, or to taste

MethodPrep:10min ›Cook:1hr30min ›Ready in:1hr40min

  1. Place pork belly into a large pot; cover with water about 2cm above the pork. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Discard water and fill pot with fresh water about 2cm above the pork. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the pork begins to soften, about 1 hour.
  2. Remove the pork from the water and place on a cutting board. Allow pork to cool for a few minutes, then slice off the thick skin and discard. Cut the remaining pork meat into 2cm wide slices. Set aside.
  3. Combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, 120ml water, mirin, ginger and garlic in a large saucepan; bring to the boil over high heat. Add the sliced pork belly and bring to the boil again. Reduce heat to low; place a sheet of foil directly over the pork and sauce. Simmer uncovered until the pork is tender, 30 to 45 minutes, turning the pork several times to cook evenly.


It is best to use pork belly, but pork fillet will also work.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(42)

Reviews in English (30)

by MadeInMississippi

This was really good! My local Meijer did not have pork belly so I used a pork loin, but I followed the recipe and cooking directions exactly. Also could not find the Bonito flakes, so I used Oyster Sauce that I found in the asain section. (I read online that was a good substitute) The sauce was delicious!! Make sure to cut the meat into small pcs so that it can soak up as much sauce as possible. Served w/white rice and steamed broccoli, sugar snaps and baby carrots. MMMMmmmmm!-24 Feb 2011

by Amanda Ramirez

I live in Okinawa and this is spot on!! Not only does it taste great but I was really surprised at how easy it was! We sliced it thin and topped some soba soup with it .. excellent!!-28 Aug 2011

by Sandy

very authentic japanese recipe. We used Kurobuta Pork belly the flavor is so intense and great..Leftover sauce is good for Yakisoba or any type of Asian stir fry... or just mix it with plain steamed rice....-03 Jun 2011

Cut pork into 2 x 1-inch pieces. In a saucepan, brown pork on medium heat. Add garlic and ginger cook a few minutes longer. Add soy sauce, sugar, and salt. Lower heat, cover, and cook pork, turning pieces every 20 to 30 minutes. Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until pork is tender. Makes 6 servings.

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Quick and easy recipe to follow, that turned out quite delicious! I added some chunked potatoes to the mix and had quite a meal.

Okinawa shoyu pork belly recipe - Recipes

I posted a photo on Instagram of Okinawan shoyu pork I had made in my crock pot.

A friend of mine (rightfully) commented, “What makes it Okinawan?”

That’s a good question, one I couldn’t answer. I have no idea.

All I know is the dish — called rafute (pronounced ra-foo-teh-) — is part of the food landscape in Okinawa. It’s made with pork belly, stewed or braised in shoyu and brown sugar. It’s supposed to help with longevity. (Okinawans are believed to have the highest life expectancy in the world.)

The only connection I see between this dish and Okinawa is the pork, a mainstay in the country’s diet. Interestingly enough, up until the 19th century and the introduction of pork and goat to the island, people here used to avoid eating meat. Now, pork is so much a part of Okinawan cuisine, it’s often said that “Okinawan cooking begins with the pig and ends with the pig.”

When the Okinawans immigrated to Hawai‘i more than a century ago, they must have brought along this dish, too.

As easy as this dish is to make, I’ve never actually tried to cook it, mostly because I’m not fond of chopping up large chunks of meat. (I’m a lazy cook, what can I say.) But I wanted to whip up something for Super Bowl Sunday that was quick, easy and would go great with a bowl of white rice.

Okinawan shoyu pork it was!

There are tons of recipes online, most with the same key ingredients. Some recipes called for miso, others required garlic, still others used sake over mirin. (I used both.)

Most cooks also recommended trimming the fat from the pork butt before cooking it. I decided to leave the fat on, figuring it would only make the dish that much tastier. (And I was right.)

I also used a crock pot instead of a pressure cooker — too high-maintenance — or on a stovetop. I like the idea of combining all of the ingredients, dumping them into a slow cooker, and going on about my day without having to tend to it.

It’s one of those crowd-pleaser dishes. You really can’t go wrong.

Okinawan Shoyu Pork
In a crock pot or slow cooker

3-5 pounds of pork butt, chopped into 2- to 3-inch pieces
1 c. shoyu
1 c. brown sugar
1-2 c. water
1/2 c. mirin (sweet rice wine)
1/4 c. cooking sake
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 T. ginger, minced or grated
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl combine the shoyu, mirin, sake, garlic, ginger, brown sugar and water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and set aside.

Butcher down your pork into pieces and place them into the crock pot. Pour the sauce over them. Set the slow cooker on low, cooking for about six to seven hours. (The pork will turn a very dark brown, but the pieces should be fork tender.)

Okinawa style noodle with soy braised pork belly

Have you ever tried Okinawa soba noodle? It is one of the my favorite noodle dishes!

Tomorrow, October 17th is actually Okinawa Soba Day in Japan, which I just got to know it last week though.

Okinawa is the southernmost prefecture in Japan. It consists of many subtropical islands and popular resort town. It is really really beautiful there, highly recommend!

These are some of the photos when I was in Ishigaki island in Okinawa.

Okinawa has the most unique food, language, and mixed culture because of their history it used to be the independent kingdom, and then ruled by the Satsuma domain, United States before becoming the Okinawa prefecture. In Okinawa, I always feel that I am in a foreign country—so many foods I have never seen, dialects that I can’t understand, and different styles of architecture!

The big incentive to travel Okinawa for me is to try their authentic Okinawa soba noodle. Okinawa soba is the hot noodle soup topped with soy sauce braised pork belly or pork rib. For me, Okinawa soba is something like between Ramen and Udon. It is richer than Udon and lighter than Ramen. This is something I want to eat when I feel sick.

Okinawa soba is something you can’t easily find outside Japan, but you can make it easily at home without any special ingredients. My recipe is the simple and easy version of Okinawa soba.

My favorite part of this noodle dish is the broth, which is made of the pork stock and bonito flakes. It is hearty and full of umami. It is difficult and time consuming to take the pork stock from scratch with pork bones, so I just use the simmering liquid of pork belly as the pork stock.

First, get the skin off pork belly, white parts of green onion, and three thinly sliced ginger

Put these with 10 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Skim the scum thoroughly.

When the pork belly doesn’t make any more scum, put a lid on and turn the heat to the lowest and braise for 2.5 hours.

After 2.5 hours, take out the pork belly. Discard the green onion and ginger and reserve the pork stock. Refrigerate the pork stock.

Slice the pork belly into ½ inch thick.

In a pot, put soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and salt and place sliced pork belly. Bring to a boil.

Turn down the heat and simmer until the liquid is syrupy for about 15 minutes. Flip the slices of pork belly occasionally.

Make a soup for noodle. Once the pork stock is chilled down, strain it with a fine mesh sieve to remove the fat on the top of the stock. Measure 8 cups of pork stock.

Put the pork stock, bonito flakes, salt, and light soy sauce. Bring to the boil and turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the soup discard the bonito flakes. Return the soup into a pot. Add more salt if needed.

(The pictures below is for two people portions—4 cups of pork stock with 2 portions of cooked udon. I save the 4 more cups for the later use.)

Cook 4 portions of udon noodles according to the instruction of the package. Rinse under cold water and strain it well. Put the noodle back into the pot of the soup and heat the noodle. Put the cooked udon noodle in the pot of the soup and heat the noodle.

Divide the noodle soup into 4 noodle bowls. Place about 3 slices of pork belly on top. Garnish with chopped green onions and ginger.

In a large pot, bring to a boil the soy sauce, water, miso, sugar, and sake until sugar and miso dissolve. Add ginger and garlic cook for 5 minutes. Add pork butt, cook on high heat until sauce boils. Lower heat to medium, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Remove from sauce, slice and serve. Makes 12 servings.

Approximate Nutrient Analysis per serving:
570 calories, 36 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 150 mg cholesterol, greater than 1500 mg sodium, 15 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 45 g protein

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Guava-Licious Ribs

Guava-Licious Ribs

Baked Gon Lo Mein

Baked Gon Lo Mein

Chinese Taro Root Cake (Woo Tul Gow)

Okinawan braised pork belly (rafute)

Rafute is a slowly simmered pork dish bringing together three of Okinawa’s favourite things – pork, black sugar and awamori liquor. While the awamori and black sugar give a complex sweetness to the pork, this is a recipe as much about texture as it is about flavour. The long cooking process leaves the meat meltingly soft, while the skin and fat are gelatinous and slippery.



Skill level


  • 1 kg boneless pork belly, skin on
  • 250 ml (1 cup) awamori (see note), or sake or vodka
  • 125 ml (½ cup) dark soy sauce
  • 100 g Okinawan black sugar (see note) or dark brown sugar
  • 125 ml (½ cup) mirin
  • 6 thin slices ginger
  • karashi mustard (see note) or hot English mustard, to serve
  • fresh daikon, cut into thin matchsticks, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Drink match 2011 De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate Grown Chardonnay, VIC ($25)

Place pork belly in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Boil for 1 minute, then remove pan from heat, discard water and rinse any scum from both pork and saucepan. Return pork to pan and cover again with cold water. Place over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for 1 hour.

Remove pork from pan, reserving cooking liquid, then cut into 5 cm squares. Place pork pieces in another saucepan and add awamori, soy sauce, sugar, mirin and ginger. Add enough of the reserved cooking liquid to just cover pork. Cover with a cartouche (see Note) and cook over medium-low heat for 1½ hours or until pork is very tender and skin and fat are glossy and gelatinous.

Arrange pork pieces on plates and pour over a little of the braising liquid (you can freeze remaining liquid for further batches). Serve with mustard and daikon on the side.

• a cartouche is a paper lid placed directly on the surface of food to slow down the reduction of moisture in cooking. Take a square sheet of baking paper slightly larger than your pan, and fold in half on its diagonal. Repeat twice to make a small triangle. Holding the inner point of the edge of the paper where it reaches the edge of the pan. Unfold paper for your cartouche.
• Awamori, an Okinawan distilled liquor, is available from specialist liquor shops.
• Okinawan black sugar and karashi mustard are available from Japanese and select Asian food shops.

Photography Chris Chen
Styling Jerrie-Joy Redman Lloyd
Food preparation Phoebe Wood

Cuisine born from a mixed culture

Okinawa was the recipient of rich cultural influences from other Asian nations through a bustling trade during the days of the Ryukyu Kingdom. American culture came into the lives of the people with the US administration of the island that followed World War II. With the added impact of Okinawan immigrants in Hawaii and South America before and after the war, Okinawan culture evolved as a reflection of diverse foreign cultures, often seen as the charm of this island. This aspect of mixed culture is also found in Okinawa’s cuisine, appreciated as much by locals as traditional fare.

Taco rice is an Okinawan dish using taco ingredients that have been put on rice. Despite the origins of the taco and the American fast food chain Taco Bell, Taco rice is believed to have been created in Okinawa and has become an integral part of the island's food culture.

Pork tamago

Canned pork, or SPAM, was introduced from the States to Okinawa after World War II. It is believed that Okinawan immigrants in Hawaii created Pork tamago and then introduced it back to Okinawa. Since then, it has become a mainstay of Okinawan cuisine.

Rotisserie chicken

A large number of Okinawans emigrated to Argentina and Peru about 100 years ago. Many of them eventually returned to Okinawa, bringing with them the food culture of their adopted homes. Rotisserie chicken is one example. Grilled with a lot of garlic, a whole chicken is usually priced at between ¥1,000 and ¥1,500.

Photos by jalna

I actually posted this by mistake. Supposed to be for tomorrow but some people already read it so you get two posts for today. LOL!

You can't go wrong with melt in da mouth pork belly, yah! Wendell got the recipe for this dish from I Love Hawaiian Food Recipes site.

  • 1½ pounds pork belly
  • ½ cup sake
  • ⅓ cup shoyu (soy sauce)
  • 1-inch ginger, peeled and crushed
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup mirin
  • Green onions, garnish (optional)
  1. In a large pot add pork belly and cover with water. Bring to a rolling boil and turn heat down and simmer for 10 minutes. This is to remove excess fat. Drain and rinse pork, then cut into 1 to 1½-inch pieces.
  2. In a large pot, add sake, shoyu and ginger then bring to a boil. Add pork pieces to mixture, cover and simmer for about an hour. Turning pieces 3 to 4 times throughout the hour. This will evenly glaze pork.
  3. Mix together sugar and mirin and stir into pork pieces. Cook for another 45 minutes uncovered until pork is soft and evenly glazed.


Oh yummilicious! This looks amazing!

That's kind of like the Okinawan rafute recipe for pork belly! Delish!

Lorna, I'm drooling thinking about it right now. LOL!

uuuu i never make shoyu pork in a long time. Maybe it's time to try again

Les, Mich said would be good as a donburi with egg. Now I wanna eat that!

uuuu i never make donburi in a long time too. randy would like that.

Oh yah, that kinda reminds me . . . my sister said that Your Kitchen closed for good. They had ono Pork Bowl with special-kine egg in it:

My mom used to make this! Reminds me of my childhood : )

ho mannn. looks like would be good with the Chinese BUNS !!

Jalna. Next time experiment with brown sugar and maple syrup! The result will be Meat Candy! I Promise! )

LOL, "Meat Candy" . . . funny, Mark.

Cool, I make this all the time.

Tips to Make Delicious Kakuni

The key to a good kakuni recipe is the initial simmering. For this recipe, I spent 2-3 hours 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 a 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.

Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

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Watch the video: Chinese Style Glazed Pork Belly