Rafute (Okinawan glazed pork)

Total Time
3hrs 15mins
Prep 15 mins
Cook 3 hrs

Rafute is a special-occasion dish, considered to be the epitome of Okinawan cuisine. Pork belly is broiled, cooled, and then slowly simmered in a delectable combination of sake, sugar and soy sauce until the meat is melt-in-the-mouth tender. As it is rich, serve in small quantities with rice.

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 3 lbs pork belly
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 inches ginger, sliced
  • 1 cup bonito stock or 1 cup dashi stock (if unavailable, use reserved pork stock)
  • 1 cup awamori okinawa sake or 1 cup substitute Bourbon or 1 cup Scotch whisky
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)
  • 12 cup mirin (Japanese rice wine)
  • 1 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)


  1. Place pork, skin side up, on the rack of a broiler pan, and broil until skin is browned.
  2. Rinse pork under warm running water, scraping off any charred areas with a knife.
  3. Place the whole piece of pork in a large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook 40 minutes.
  4. Remove pork and reserve broth.
  5. Allow the pork to cool, then slice into ½" thick, 2" x 2" squares.
  6. Combine other ingredients, except mirin, in a thick, wide, shallow pot, and bring to the boil.
  7. Lay the pork pieces in this sauce and cook, covered, for about 1½ hours over low heat.
  8. If during this time the pan seems dry, add a little of the reserved pork stock.
  9. As pork tenderizes, add mirin and cook a further half-hour uncovered, until pork is melt-in-the-mouth tender and evenly glazed with sauce.
  10. When warming leftovers, do not add water or soup stock- instead, use sake (or bourbon/whisky), which is said to keep pork tender and juicy.
Most Helpful

This was good. I have fond memories as a young Marine of lots of rafute atop of bowls of soba noodle soup with a tall Orion beer, nothing better on a cool evening after a long days work. Of course I didn?t have any soba noodles handy in Louisiana so I served it with some rice and sautéed kale. Warning, this might be a little different for some tastes, it is sweet, think of it more like pork candy instead of stewed pork. Thanks Daydream.

Tread June 22, 2013

This pork is okay, but the flavor of the sauce is a little too strong for me. I am not, however, Okinawan, which may be the main problem. I didn't have awamori handy, so used bourbon instead. I cut the recipe in half, but used all the specified ingredients in the proportions given. It was very interesting to try, and I was amazed to find a recipe that just fit what I wanted to use up. Thank you very much for sharing this recipe with us.

mianbao January 08, 2012