I have tried cooking "Butta no kakuni" or slow braised pork belly. I watched a video on making kakuni from a check in Nagasaki. In it he used a Le Creuset dutch oven to cook the pork belly.

  1. Cut the pork belly into 4 inch strips, cut those in to 4"x4"
  2. lightly brown the cubes
  3. add a large scallion, star anise, and a stick of cinnamon
  4. cover with water add salt
  5. after cooking - remove the water
  6. add mirin, sake, soy, sugar and cook on low until well reduced.

It was cooked in a dutch oven - brought to a boil in the first phase, then simmered for 1 hour. The second phase was simmered for 3 hours. It's soft, but not super soft like I had in Japan, where it is like eating butter with a very luxurious and buttery caramelized consistency. I have to admit, I did not use a thermometer to check the meat's temperature through various stages

My question is: how does one keep the pork from becoming tough and how does one cook meat in general in a way that it stays soft, allows flavor to thoroughly permeate but stays whole without flaking and breaking too easily when plating.

I am not a pro, but I am passionate about this!

  • Some questions: How long did you cook it? What cooking method did you use? If you used the oven, what was the temperature? Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 18:55
  • I cooked it not in an over but in a duch/frech cocotte cookware.lecreuset.com/cookware/…
    – jc303
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 19:16
  • 1
    Steve's answer is correct. 1 + 3 hours of cooking is not enough to achieve the butter-like texture you are talking about. Commented Sep 7, 2013 at 9:29
  • 1
    I've had good luck producing it in a reasonable amount of time with a pressure cooker. I don't know if you used naga-negi (which looks more like a skinny leek than a scallion) or not, but that will affect flavor more than texture.
    – JasonTrue
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 23:58

2 Answers 2


In his book, Masaharu Morimoto says to cook it for 8 hours for the initial phase (in a 240F oven). He also includes brown rice in the initial cooking, which he says helps to tenderize the meat. He then refrigerates it over night and then cooks it for another 2 hours the next day. The recipe is reproduced on the Chubby Hubby blog.

If that doesn't get the texture you want, you could try a slow cooker or sous-vide. (Sous vide should be able to nail the texture if you get the temperature/time.)


The traditional way to begin to cook the pork belly for Buta No Kakuni is by boiling it in okara for a significant amount of time—say, 45 minutes. These are the left-over 'lees' from the creation of tofu, and may very well be free (as it is at the again-open Denver Tofu company) if you're fortunate enough to live by a tofu factory.

I suspect this little trick may be what is missing, as just because you cook the daylights out of something low and slow doesn't mean it's texture is necessarily sublime. The okara both tenderizes the meat and draws out a significant portion of fat. I will have to look up the ratio of okara to pork.

The -ni suffix at the end of the dish's title refers to nimono, "simmered things." The word kaku means "square cut," so you are preparing "Simmered Square Pork." The sauce is a version of teriyaki (add a tad of Chinese black vinegar if you can find it); gently simmer the pork in the sauce, to cover, until a bamboo skewer comes out easy, anywhere from 1½ - 3 hours, or even more, depending on the size of the cuts. (I cut mine in 2" cubes and they take less than two hours at altitude.)

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