Easy Kakuni - Quick Braised Pork Butt with Mustard

Posted on October 14, 2009 at 12:05 AM

My cooking buddy  Fred has been making some wonderful Mexican pork dishes lately. It got me thinking about pork. The classic Japanese dishes I make are Tonkatsu and Kakuni. Kakuni is originally from China but it has become so popular in Japan that it is basically considered a Japanese comfort food. There are all kinds of theories about how to make Kakuni. The goal is to make it tender and juicy without it  being too fatty. One classic way to remove the excess fat is by cooking the unseasoned meat in tofu curds, okara.  Another way is to steam it with grated daikon radish. I was thinking about doing a traditional kakuni but I didn't have any okara or daikon radish in hand.  So I decided to make a quick and easy Kakuni.  I slice up the pork in bite size pieces instead of cooking it whole. Since pork butt is fatty to begin with, this method doesn't dry out the meat while cooking.  I made the dish earlier in the day and went downtown for a meeting.  We almost stopped to get some food on the road but decided, even though we were crawling through traffic, that it was better to have the kakuni, which was waiting for us at home. We were right.


Serves 2-3

3/4 lbs Pork Butt or shoulder

3/4 cup water

4 Tbls sake

2 Tbls sugar

3 Tbls Mirin

3 Tbls soy sauce


Slice the pork butt horizontially in half. Discard only the very fat ends. Then slice into 1/2 inch pieces. Put the meat in a medium size saucepan.  Add enough water to cover the meat. and bring to a boil.  Blanch the meat for 2 minutes.  Drain water.

In the same saucepan, add the measured water and the meat and bring to a boil.  Turn heat to a simmer.  Put the sake and sugar and cook the meat for 3 minutes.  Turn the meat over once.  Now add mirin and soy sauce.  Remove scum from the surface, as the meat cooks.  Turn the meat over again.  Cook until half of the braising broth is absorbed into the meat, about another 5 minutes.  Remove the meat from the sauce pan and let the braising broth cook further until it gets syrupy, about 2 minutes more over low heat. 

Serve the Kakuni in a medium size bowl while hot. Pour  braising broth over the meat and serve with a dab of mustard.

If you like to go leaner with this dish, you can let the meat sit in the braising broth at room temperature.  When the fat comes up to the surface and coagulates, remove it with a spoon and discard. To serve, reheat the meat, pour some hot broth on top.  Mustard is a nice counter-flavor to the sweet, soysaucy pork.

Slice the piece in half.

Then into 1/2 inch pieces. The pieces look like fresh tuna sashimi.

I blanched the meat for 2 minutes to remove the meaty odor.

       I strained the blanched meat.  At this point, the meat looks blah

  but keep going.

Braised in the soy based broth, the meat picks up color again.

Braise until half of the liquid is absorbed into the meat.  

See how syrupy the broth gets.

The meat comes out very tender and juicy. 

It s delicous with mustard.

Menu suggestions: Kakuni, steamed rice, cucumber sunomo, suimono and pickles

Categories: Meat

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Reply sonoko sakai
4:11 PM on October 17, 2009 
Sakae says...
The entire meat was eaten in one sitting! It's so easy. Try this recipe.

This makes my mouth water. There is a ramen place in Portland that serves kakuni ramen similar to this-
Reply Sakae
6:23 PM on October 14, 2009 
This makes my mouth water. There is a ramen place in Portland that serves kakuni ramen similar to this-