Pork Belly Recipe – Braised in Soy and Dashi

Braised Pork Belly - Japanese-Style - with Pearl Onions and Snow Peas

Since the Japanese have high life expectancy, it follows that this braised pork belly recipe is health food, doesn’t it? Green vegetables are also involved and a hefty portion of the fat is melted away through slow cooking, so the corollary holds true so far.

A few glasses of Japanese green tea or red wine can help negate the unsavory effects of rich foods anyway, so there’s absolutely no reason to worry. Right?

pork belly braising instructions adapted from Tom Colicchio’s Think Like A Chef
adapted from the Nagasaki-Style Braised Pork recipe in Shizuo Tsuji’s Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art

Pork Belly Braised in Soy and Dashi
Served with Simmered Snow Peas and Pearl Onions

makes 4 servings

Braised Pork Belly - Japanese-Style - Pearl Onions and Snow Peas
Snow peas and pearl onions.

For the Braised Pork Belly:

2 pounds skin-on pork belly, preferably including the ribs, cut into 4 square pieces
kosher salt
vegetable oil

3 1/2 cups dashi
1 cup sake
2 tablespoons mirin
6 tablespoons dark or regular soy sauce
6 tablespoons sugar
6-inch knob of ginger, peeled and crushed

For the Simmered Vegetables:

a handful of pearl onions, peeled
a handful of snow peas, trimmed

1 1/4 cups dashi
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons light or regular soy sauce

For Serving:

2 tablespoons Japanese or Dijon mustard

Notes:

  • If using bone-in pork belly, have your butcher cut the pork belly into square serving pieces, unless you like wielding huge meat cleavers.
  • Use instant dashi granules, also known as dashi-no-moto or hon-dashi, for convenience. It takes about 1 teaspoon of instant dashi for every 3 cups of water.

To Braise the Pork Belly:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF / 177ºC. Pat the pork belly dry with paper towels and season lightly with kosher salt.
  2. In a large container, mix together the dashi, sake, mirin, soy sauce, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Heat a thin layer of vegetable oil in a heavy ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Brown the pork belly pieces, skin side down, until well-browned, about 15 minutes. Remove the pork belly pieces from the skillet.
  4. Add half of the dashi-soy mixture to the skillet. Stir and scrape the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  5. Return the pork belly pieces to the skillet, skin side up. Add the necessary amount of the leftover dashi-soy mixture to immerse about two-thirds of the pork belly. Add the peeled and crushed ginger.
  6. Bring to a boil over high heat. Place the skillet in the 350ºF / 177ºC oven and braise while uncovered for about 2 hours.
  7. Allow the pork belly to cool in the braising liquid. Alternatively, you can also cool the pork belly to room temperature and refrigerate overnight.

Braised Pork Belly - Japanese-Style - Cast Iron Pan
How to give the impression that you know what you’re doing: use an old cast-iron skillet.

To Serve:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF / 205ºC.
  2. Using a small knife, remove the skin by lifting it gently from the layers of fat underneath. Score the fat with a cross-hatch pattern and transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook until the pork is heated through and the fat is browned, about 20 minutes.
  3. While the pork belly is in the oven, simmer the vegetables.

Braised Pork Belly - Japanese-Style - Crosshatched
Scored fat on the braised pork belly.

To Simmer the Vegetables:

  1. Mix together the dashi, mirin, and soy sauce for simmering the vegetables.
  2. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
  3. Parboil the snow peas in the lightly salted water for about 2 to 3 minutes. Wash the snow peas with cold water to stop the cooking.
  4. Parboil the pearl onions in the lightly salted water until slightly translucent. Wash the pearl onions with cold water to stop the cooking.
  5. Discard the lightly salted water and replace with the dashi, mirin, and soy sauce mixture. Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer.
  6. Simmer the snow peas and pearl onions until heated through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Discard the simmering liquid.

Place the snow peas and pearl onions in a shallow bowl. Place the heated pork belly on top with a few tablespoons of the braising liquid. The braising liquid will be strongly flavored — a little goes a long way.

Serve with a dab of Japanese or Dijon mustard.

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40 Responses to “Pork Belly Recipe – Braised in Soy and Dashi”

  1. Jaden, Steamy Kitchen says:

    i can’t remember last time I had good pork belly – it’s been forever! Not a popular item at restaurants near me – will have to cook.

  2. javapot says:

    Beautiful pictures!!

  3. Peter says:

    Jude, this is a fabulous result (i’m taking notes) and I’ll have to give pork belly another go.

  4. Sofia says:

    The photos are gorgeous and all there flavors sound delicious.

  5. snookydoodle says:

    Excuse my ignorance. But what is dashi ? I surely looks amazing and yummy though . great photography :)

  6. Haley W. says:

    This looks so flavorful. I recently ate pork belly for the first time, and it was so meltingly rich and delicious that I am glad I waited – I would have indulged far too often! I will have to try this for my first attempt cooking it.

  7. Caitlin says:

    Love the note about cast iron – I have to admit, the heft of it makes me feel like a real cook :)

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Jude- other than that being delicious food, those colors are so striking!

  9. Chocolate Shavings says:

    That looks delicious – like anything with pork belly usually is! The color on yours looks amazing, as does the broth. I sense that I’ll be making this soon.

  10. Jo says:

    Delicious as well and great photos. I also wanted to let you know that I have passed you an award. Please visit my blog to pick it up.

  11. rachel says:

    Well, that is lovely! I do love some pork!

  12. Jescel says:

    hmmn… this almost looks like the Pinoy adobo (or humba in the Visayas)…. Delish and I agree, green tea or red wine should negate it’s negative effects to our bods, huh? :o D

  13. Lori Lynn says:

    Such striking photography!
    I need to try this. Soon.

  14. robin @ caviar and codfish says:

    Your logic is strong, Jude. :)

    Thanks… I’m always looking for more pork belly recipes!

  15. maryann says:

    Jude! Hey!
    That looks succulent!
    Very nice :)

  16. DocChuck says:

    I LOVE pork belly, and your version sounds SOOoo delicious!

    My wife (a medical doctor) gives me a lot of grief when I eat pork belly, but I believe that when she sees your recipe (which I printed and taped to the door of the fridge), she may relent and give it a try.

    Thanks for sharing.

    DocChuck
    http://profile.myspace.com/docchuck

  17. White On Rice Couple says:

    Oh wow, this looks just amazing!!! I really enjoy pork belly, but only occasionally. If I could, I would eat it all!
    Your photographs are totally drool worthy crazy!

  18. Heather says:

    The scored skin on that pork belly is giving me a she-boner. I made this very dish on Sunday night (sans the onions and peas), but cut mine into 1″ cubes and used it in some nabe (I have loads of shungiku and shiitake I’m trying to use up). That braising liquid when it’s done – man, I could drink that by the mugful!

  19. DocChuck says:

    Sorry, but when I came back over to check the comments, I found Heather’s comment, “that pork belly is giving me a she-boner” . . . LOL!

    I just have to ask, what exactly is a “she-boner”?

  20. Y says:

    Pork belly as health food? Hell yeah! That looks divine, Jude :)

  21. Vicki says:

    Three cheers for pork belly! Looks delicious.

  22. Hannah says:

    The flavors of the braising liquid sound great, and I bet this would work well with tempeh, too!

  23. sweetbird says:

    I will happily second the motion that pork belly is health food.

    I just recently had some braised Berkshire pork belly at a little restaurant called Artisan. It was beyond divine. Anything pork makes me weak in the knees…

  24. noobcook says:

    Gorgeous! Yes, I love to wash away the fats with Japanese green tea after a meal too, makes me feel healthier hehe

  25. Argus (Jy) says:

    Gotta love your skillet caption. :)
    The Chinese love braising too – and simple Chinese restaurants do it for hours and the meat is oh-so-tender. A favourite one is layered fatty pork braised with yam (the blue-grey one) in fermented yam, dark soy sauce etc.

  26. linda says:

    Such a pretty picture with the beautiful colours, must be delicious too!

  27. PG says:

    lovely pictures! Even thoug i don’t eat pork and don’t plan to either, this one still looks so appetising. wonderful! I’m sure if I show it to hubby (he eats pork) he would love it. LOL on the caption to the picture with the skillet!

  28. [eatingclub] vancouver || js says:

    Health food or not, I want that pork belly. Your version looks so elegantly gorgeous, as always.

    One of the dishes from the Japanese cooking book we thought of doing was the braised pork belly, but we opted out because we just had pork belly the previous week. But a little pork belly every week can’t be all that bad.

  29. Louise Wyers says:

    @DocChuck

    Apparently you are REALLY ignorant. Every italian female I know understands what a “she-boner” is. In fact, I get a “she-boner” anytime my boyfriend “Big Bear” walks in the same room with me of our rented trailer house.

    Even though David Wyers weighs 437 pounds, has no teeth, and has to take pills he buys off the internet for his erection dysfunction disease, I think he is really cool . . . unlike my first four husbands.

    And you can bet I am going to keep feeding him all the pork belly I can. So, thank you for the great ideas.

    Louise Wyers,
    Senior Adviser on the Serious Eats Website

  30. Jaden – No too common around here, either. Unless you’re willing to pay $50 for an entree.

    Peter – Colicchio’s braising method makes for good prk belly.

    Snooky – Dashi is a fish and kelp stock… Chicken or vegetable stock should work in a pinch.

    Jo – Thanks!

    Jescel – If only there was some sort of study to back it up. Oh wait, there is.

    Heather – Look at what you started…

    Sweetbird – Saw your post. Artisan pork bell has a nice ring to it.

    Wiffy – Wash away the fats with green tea? :)

    Argus – Fermented yam? Sounds interesting…

    Js – It’s a nice little book, isn’t it?

  31. MrsDocChuck says:

    I sincerely apologize for my husband’s crass behavior. He also posted as the crackpot talking to himself — “Louise Wyers.”

    He has not been himself lately, as he has yet to receive a large wire transfer he is expecting from an offical at the Nigerian American Bank. Is is very much overdue at this point.

    Since both my husband and I have serious weight problems and other medical issues, pork belly isn’t on our menu. We look for healthy recipes for folks on fixed incomes.

  32. chineseporkrecipes says:

    hello,your Pork Belly Recipe is so cool,i really like it very much. I am a chinese food amateur and like cooking the dish myself,thanks for sharing again.i ‘ll try it

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