Rafute vs Buta no Kakuni, Recipe, Restaurants


What’s Rafute

“Rafute (ラフテー)” also often called “braised pork belly” is one in every of Okinawa‘s local dishes, and it’s a menu that permits you to benefit from the deliciousness of pork. Locals make this dish by seasoning pork belly with skin or hisagar (thigh meat with skin) in a sweet and salty flavor with awamori or soy sauce. This meal is available in two variations: one with sugar and soy sauce and one other with miso. Normally, they cook the pork in Awamori (Okinawan liquor) until the pork skin melts in your mouth and the flavour is sort of wealthy and intense.

It’s a dish just like buta no kakuni and “sanmainiku (boiled meat)” utilized in Latest Yr’s dishes and jubako for Buddhist memorial rituals, but they cooked this with a sweet and spicy seasoning and never thinly sliced. Locals  characterised this dish by the undeniable fact that they served it as a separate dish without mixing it with other ingredients as a certain size portion.


The name originated from Chinese. It is probably going cognate or closely related to the same dish called トンポーロウ【東坡肉】 tonpoorou in Japanese (also read ドンポーロウ donpoorou), meaning “dongpo pork; tungpo pork”. The notation rafute will also be encountered here and there, although the true reading in Okinawan is rafute.

Rafute History

Rafute  (ラフテー)

The connection between pork and Okinawa dates back to the 14th century. Originally, pork dishes were dropped at Okinawa by Chinese missions, but pig farming began to be able to solve the food problem for a whole bunch of individuals within the missions.

It’s also a Ryukyu Dynasty preserved cuisine which you could preserve for roughly a month. Okinawa’s Ryukyu cuisine begins and ends with pork. Known not just for its meat but in addition for its internal organs, face, ears, and blood, especially pork belly with skin. Pork fat was also a helpful source of nutrition in poor times. Pork is often used due to influence of exchanges with China in the course of the Ryukyu dynasty. 

Originally, they hot preserved it as an Okinawan food and strongly seasoned it, however it has turn into a typical Ryukyu cuisine served as a guest meal or a memorial service dish resulting from its thin taste with the times.

In Hawaii, locals there know rafute as “shoyu pork,” which they served in plate lunches. Within the early 1900s, Okinawan immigrants in Hawaii introduced rafute into the local cuisine, as ethnic Okinawans owned and ran many restaurants in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Rafute Recipe

Rafute  (ラフテー)

Rafute Ingredients

Ingredients of Rafute for 4 person Measurements
Pork fillet (with skin) 400g
Awamori 200g
Sugar 80g
Soy sauce 50g
Bonito stock 200-600g
Ginger 3g

Learn how to make Rafute


Wash the meat

Wash the pork ribs in hot water and boil them for 40 minutes to 1 hour while removing the scum and fat.


Cut and boil the pork

Cut the pork ribs into 3 to 4 cm squares, or 6 to 7 cm long. You possibly can boil the pork that stands out once you’re aligning the shapes together for tasting.

Simmer with other ingredients

Put the dashi stock, awamori, and the meat in a pot and boil for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining sugar and simmer for one more 5 minutes.

Awamori with a better alcohol content will boil faster and the flavour will permeate more easily.

Add seasoning and simmer again

Add the soy sauce in two batches, and simmer over high heat for about 5 minutes at first, then reduce the warmth to low and simmer slowly for 40 minutes to 1 hour. Cook until the meat is tender enough to be torn with chopsticks.


Put it in a bowl, pour loads of broth on it, and put ginger on it and also you’re done.

Pork in Okinawa

Rafute  (ラフテー)

Okinawa Prefecture ranks first within the nation within the consumption of pork. You possibly can’t see pig farms in Naha City, but for those who go to northern areas reminiscent of Yanbaru, you’ll be able to see that they’re still actively working on pig farming. Some people can have a rather dirty image when considering of a pig farm. But pigs are clean animals. Also, pigs have a robust image of being fat, however the body fat percentage of pigs raised is 14-18% (the usual body fat percentage for males aged 18-39 is 11-21%).

Difference between Buta no Kakuni and Rafute

Locals make the 2 dishes with pork belly, but the most important difference is that they serve the rafute with the skin on. Rafute also uses awamori and bonito stock when simmering. It’s different from buta no kakuni in that rafute simmers with awamori and brown sugar.

What do you eat with Rafute?

Rafute  (ラフテー)

Other than the prolonged simmering, Rafute is a slightly easy and direct meal to organize. It’s a famous dish in Okinawa resulting from its powerful taste. Locals serve this as an izakaya-style meal with an icy cold beer or as a savory dish with fluffy steamed rice or noodles.

Is braised pork belly healthy?

Rafute  (ラフテー)

Because pork belly consists mostly of fat, this serving size packs as much as 585 calories, 60 grams of total fat, and 22 grams of saturated fat. Nonetheless, it’s also a wonderful source of B vitamins, in addition to a source of other necessary nutrients reminiscent of vitamin E, zinc, iron, and copper.

Where to purchase Rafute

Yamashou (山将)

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An izakaya where you’ll be able to fully enjoy Okinawan cuisine. It has a peaceful atmosphere where you’ll be able to spend a calming time in any situation. You possibly can eat fresh and colourful Okinawan dish to your heart’s content. One of the best suggestion is the rafute. Despite its wealthy flavor, the rafute here has a fame for being refreshing and straightforward to eat.

Address: 5-1 2F Higashimachi, Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture
Phone number: 098-8620-999
Hours Open: [Mon-Sat] 17:00-23:00
Website: http://www.yamasyoo.com

Paikaji Uenoya (ぱいかじ 上之屋店)

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A store where you’ll be able to benefit from the atmosphere of an Okinawan grandpa and grandma’s house. You possibly can enjoy a wide selection of dishes, from traditional Okinawan dishes to easy-to-eat dishes. But the very best suggestion is the rafute. The dark meat and rice go well together, you can even order their rafute ala-carté.

Address: 1-1-7 Uenoya, Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture
Phone number: 098-866-7977
Hours Open: 17:00 – 1:30 the subsequent day; open on Sundays
Website: http://www.paikaji.jp/tenpo/uenoya.html

Tobi Ume (飛梅)

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An izakaya with a relaxed atmosphere in semi-private rooms with curtains separating each seat. You possibly can enjoy not only the usual izakaya menu, but in addition Okinawan cuisine. Many Ryukyu creative dishes are a part of their menu. There are many menus that go well with sake. Their rafute, which the shop slowly simmered and has a wealthy flavor, is one in every of their best sellers.

Address: 3-11-17 Kumoji, Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture
Phone number: 098-863-6639
Hours Open: [Mon-Thurs] 17:00-24:00 [Fri-Sat] 17:00-1:00; Closed on Sundays
Website: https://tabelog.com/

Final thoughts

Rafute  (ラフテー)

A meal in Japanese society goes beyond eating because it allows individuals to interact, strengthen ties, cooperate, work in groups, and contribute to the event of society. Pork is by far essentially the most common form of meat in Japan. Locals consumed nearly as much as chicken and beef combined. Tonkatsu (breaded and deep-fried pork loin or cutlet) is a characteristic dish of the Japanese pork industry. It is particularly popular in Okinawa, Kyushu, and the Kanto region.

You may also look up other pork dishes in other regions of Japan, just click here.

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