Okinawa Braised Pork Belly (Rafute)

"Once you have rafute, you'll never forget about it so it's important that you have this recipe in hand. The process of cooking this slow simmered pork bellies may take some time but it's really easy. You can cook large amount at once by doubling the ingredients in this recipe because rafute can be kept in the fridge for up to a week."
photo by Pearl Ishizaki photo by Pearl Ishizaki
photo by Pearl Ishizaki
Ready In:
3hrs 10mins




  • Place the meat at room temperature for about 20 minutes before starting.
  • Heat a pan using high heat. Add a small amount of oil then swirl it around the pan to get a thin coating over the bottom of the pan. Fry the surface of the skin of the pork until it caramelizes or becomes brown. Searing the meat greatly enhances the flavor of the pork.
  • Bring water in a pot to a boil. Put the pork in the pot with the skin side up then boil it for about 10 minutes. Remove the pork from pot then rinse with running water. Discard the liquid used to boil the pork.
  • In a clean pot, place the pork with the skin side up. Add two cups of dashi and half a cup of awamori. If liquid is not enough to cover the pork belly, add more dashi.
  • Turn on the heat then bring the liquid to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat then simmer for at least an hour or until the pork becomes soft.
  • Remove the pork from the pot then slice for about 5-centimeter cubes. For the broth, let it cool and refrigerate for about 2 hours until the fat solidifies. Take the solidified fats from the broth and discard. This process of taking the fats is completely optional.
  • Put back the pork slices in the pot with the reserved broth. Add more dashi just enough to cover the pork belly slices. Add some sliced ginger then bring the liquid to a boil.
  • Add the sugar and soy sauce then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 1 hour or until the pork becomes very soft and the fat part looks glossy.
  • While simmering the pork, you can prepare the bitter melon which is a great side dish for rafute. Cut it in half then use a spoon to scoop out the white part in the middle which contains its seed.
  • Slice the bitter melon about 2-centimeter thick crosswise. Soak for 30 minutes in about 2-3 cups of water with 1 teaspoon salt to remove some of its bitterness.
  • Drain the bitter melon. Bring water in a small pot to a boil then boil the bitter melon for 2-3 minutes or until it is soft. Take the bitter melon from the pot then drain.
  • Serve the rafute with the bitter melon on the side. Pour over a little bit of the broth used to cook the pork.

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Hello! I'm a YouTuber home chef from the Philippines now based in Japan. I love to share the recipes I've learned from my travels around Japan. Please enjoy my recipes.
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