Nowadays, I see Daikon radish at the local markets and even at major super markets here in Brisbane so I wanted to make Rafute, Okinawan braised pork belly with Daikon radish.
Rafute is Okinawan braised pork belly that is simmered slowly in soy sauce, Okinawa black sugar, and Okinawa indigenous sake called Awamori. I could not find any of those ingredients in Brisbane but we can tweak the recipe a bit and still enjoy making Rafute even if we don’t live in Okinawa or Japan.
Japanese braised pork belly is called “Kakuni”, which is quite a well-known dish among Japanese food lovers. Kakuni and Rafute are both braised pork belly, so what is the difference? The main differences are that Kakuni is simmered slowly in soy sauce, caster sugar, and sake, whereas Rafute is simmered in soy sauce, Okinawa black sugar and Awamori sake.
Awamori is a type of sake that is indigenous and unique to Okinawa. Awamori is made from long grain indica rice and it is not brewed but distilled. I usually don’t consume any alcoholic beverages and I was surprised to find that you can get Awamori online in Australia. However, they are quite expensive to use for cooking and I just could not justify to buy them so I used what I had in my pantry.
The next important ingredients is Okinawa black sugar. Okinawa black sugar is unrefined dark (very dark, almost black) cane sugar, which contains molasses and is rich in potassium, iron, calcium, and other minerals. It is cultivated and processed in Okinawa. I remember that we used to just lick a little piece of Okinawa black sugar for an afternoon snack. I lived in Honsyu island (the main island of Japan) but Okinawa black sugar was readily available from the local shops. What can be substituted for the Okinawa black sugar is dark Muscovado sugar, which is what I used.
I could use pork belly but I found pork that was already cut and was sold as pork jewel at a local Japanese grocery store. It looked like it would “melt in your mouth” when cooked and it did. So ok, I did not use the proper ingredients but I think I can call it Rafute and I hope those who don’t live in Japan can still enjoy Rafute like delicious braised pork belly.
Okinawa Rafute (braised pork belly)
- 300g pork belly( I used pork juel)
- 500g Daikon radish
- 1tbs uncooked rice
- 1/2 cup sake
- 1/2 cup of the water the pork belly is cooked in
- 3tbs soy sauce
- 1tbs Mirin
- 2tbs dark muscovado sugar
- 3cm ginger sliced
- chopped green shallots for garnish
- Wash and peel the Daikon radish. Cut into 3cm thick.
- Place the cut daikon and pork in a pressure cooker. Add water to just cover the daikon and pork.
- Add rice to the pressure cooker, lock the lid and cook over high heat.
- When the pressure indicator pin rises, turn the heat down to low and cook for 15 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and allow the pressure to release naturally.
- Remove the pork and daikon radish from the pressure cooker.
- In a different pot, add 1/2 cup of the water the pork belly was cooked in, 1/2 cup sake, 3 tbs soy sauce, 1 tbs mirin, 2 tbs dark muscovado sugar, and sliced ginger.
- Place the pork and daikon (removed from the pressure cooker) into the pot and bring to simmer.
- Simmer the daikon and pork belly for about 20 minutes with a small lid (called Otoshibuta or a drop lid) resting directly on the daikon and pork belly.
- When the liquid sauce reduces to about 1/2, turn the heat off and garnish with chopped green shallots to serve.