Go Back
+ servings
5 from 10 votes
If you love pork, you must try this kakuni (角煮, simmered pork belly). The pork is so tender with lovely sweet soy sauce flavour, yet it retains the flavour of ‘pork meat’. It takes time to cook the pork until it almost falls apart but it is pretty easy to make.
Kakuni (Simmered Pork Belly)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
3 hrs
Total Time
3 hrs 10 mins
If you love pork, you must try this kakuni (角煮, simmered pork belly). The pork is so tender with lovely sweet soy sauce flavour, yet it retains the flavour of ‘pork meat’.
Recipe Type: Appetiser, Main
Cuisine: Japanese
Serves: 2 servings as main
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)
  • 500g (1lb) pork belly (Note 1)
  • 1 shallot/scallion stem , white part crashed (note 7)
  • 30g (1oz) ginger , crashed (note 7)
Simmering Sauce
  • 100ml (3.foz) sake
  • 100ml (3.foz) water
  • 2 ½ tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar (Note 2)
  • 6 green beans , boiled and cut into bite size
  • 1 tbsp shallots , white part julienned (Note 3)
  • Japanese karashi (Note4) or hot English mustard (optional)
  1. Add the Pork ingredients in a large pot which is large enough to lay the pork belly strips. Add generous amount of water and turn the heat on high.
  2. When the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to low so it simmers. Place a drop lid (Note 5) and cook for 2 hours or until tender (if the pork belly is thicker, you may need cook longer). If the water reduces too much and the pork appears above the water level, add some more water and ensure that the pork is always under the water.

  3. Using tongs or two spatulas, remove the pork strips carefully from the pot and rinse them under the running cold water gently. The pork should be quite tender now so be careful not to break them.
  4. Cut each pork belly strip into 3 or 4 equal sizes, about 4cm (1 1/2") wide.

  5. The liquid in which the pork was boiled can be re-used as soup stock. See Note 6.
  6. Add the Simmering Sauce ingredients and the pork belly pieces to another pot and turn the heat on high. When started boiling, reduce heat to low to simmer. Place a drop lid (Note 5) and cook for 25 minutes or until the liquid reduces to only about 1-2 tablespoons. While cooking, shake the pot occasionally to make sure that the sauce coats all sides of the meat.
  7. Turn the heat off. Plate the pork with green beans on the side, add the julienned shallots on top. Drop a small amount of karashi or hot English mustard.
Recipe Notes

1. I had 3 strips of pork belly which were about 4cm (1 1/2") thick, 1.5cm (⅝") wide. They came with skin on but I removed the skin.

2. If you like sweeter flavour, you could increase the amount of sugar by ½ tablespoon.

3. Karashi is Japanese mustard. It is yellow paste just like most other mustard but it does not have acidity in it and very hot. You can buy karashi at Japanese/Asian grocery stores. It comes either in a tube as paste or in a tin as powder. To make karashi paste from powder, you mix the powder with warm water in a little bowl to form a paste, cover it with cling wrap for a while to develop spiciness.

3. I just took about 4 cm of the shallot stem (white part) from the Pork ingredients.

5. Drop lid (Otoshi buta - 落し蓋) is a round lid which is slightly smaller than the opening of a saucepan. It is traditionally made of wood but I have a stainless lid. It is placed on top of the ingredients in a pot to ensure the heat is evenly distributed, cook faster, make the ingredients stay in place without breaking apart. It also stops the liquid from evaporating quickly. 

If you don’t have a drop lid, you can make one with aluminium foil. Cut a square foil, fold the edges to make it a round shape with the diameter slightly smaller than the port. Then poke the foil with a knife or a chopstick to make holes in several places.

Though using a drop lid is the traditional way of cooking Kakuni, you could just put a lid on the pot though this may affect how evenly the pork is braised.

6. Transfer the liquid in which the pork was boiled into a container through a sieve and leave it in the fridge. When chilled, remove the excess fat formed on the surface of the liquid. You can also freeze it.

7. Use the side of your knife to press down on the side of the shallots to crush the stem. Do the same for the ginger to crush.