Rafute, Okinawan-style braised pork belly, has its roots in Chinese braised pork belly and was adapted to suit local tastes. This tender and melt-in-your-mouth pork dish is definitely one of the most iconic pork dishes in Okinawa. It is braised in Katsuo-Dashi (stock made with dried fermented bonito flakes) and uniquely seasoned with soy sauce, Awamori (Okinawa’s local rice brandy) and Okinawan black sugar. It’s full of Okinawan flavours!!
1kg Skin-on pork belly
A handful of Katsuobushi*
100g Black sugar
100ml Koikuchi soy sauce(Regular Japanese soy sauce)
100ml Usukuchi soy sauce(Japanese light-colour soy sauce)
*Katsuobushi is fermented dried bonito used for making Dashi stock.
1. Pan-fry the skin side of the pork belly on high heat for a few minutes to burn off any residual furs. Take the pork out and rinse it in hot water.
2. Put the pork in a large pot and add enough water to cover it. Bring it to a boil on high heat and skim off the scum. Then turn down to low and simmer for 1 hour. Make sure to remove the scum while simmering as well.
3. Transfer the pork belly and the simmering liquid into a large container or a bowl. Once it’s cooled, put a cover on and rest in a fridge overnight.
4. To make Dashi, bring 1L of water to a boil and add the Katsuobushi. Turn off the heat and leave it for 10 minutes. Place a paper towel in a colander and strain the Dashi till the last drop but do not squeeze the Katsuobushi as that causes to release bitterness and impurity.
5. Take the pork out of the fridge and cut into 12 even cubes. Put the pork, Dashi and Awamori in a pot and simmer for 1 hour on low to medium heat.
6. Add the black sugar and simmer for 1 hour. From this process on, turn over the pork every half an hour and add water occasionally to keep the pork half covered in the liquid.
7. Combine the Usukuchin soy sauce and Koikuchi soy sauce. Add half of the mixture into the pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the remaining mixture and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Spoon over the simmering liquid occasionally to achieve even colour and seasoning.
8. Dish up the Rafute and pour over some of the simmering liquid.