Rafute is a slowly simmered pork dish bringing together three of Okinawa’s favourite things – pork, black sugar and awamori liquor. While the awamori and black sugar give a complex sweetness to the pork, this is a recipe as much about texture as it is about flavour. The long cooking process leaves the meat meltingly soft, while the skin and fat are gelatinous and slippery.
- 1 kg boneless pork belly, skin on
- 250 ml (1 cup) awamori (see note), or sake or vodka
- 125 ml (½ cup) dark soy sauce
- 100 g Okinawan black sugar (see note) or dark brown sugar
- 125 ml (½ cup) mirin
- 6 thin slices ginger
- karashi mustard (see note) or hot English mustard, to serve
- fresh daikon, cut into thin matchsticks, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Drink match 2011 De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate Grown Chardonnay, VIC ($25)
Place pork belly in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Boil for 1 minute, then remove pan from heat, discard water and rinse any scum from both pork and saucepan. Return pork to pan and cover again with cold water. Place over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for 1 hour.
Remove pork from pan, reserving cooking liquid, then cut into 5 cm squares. Place pork pieces in another saucepan and add awamori, soy sauce, sugar, mirin and ginger. Add enough of the reserved cooking liquid to just cover pork. Cover with a cartouche (see Note) and cook over medium-low heat for 1½ hours or until pork is very tender and skin and fat are glossy and gelatinous.
Arrange pork pieces on plates and pour over a little of the braising liquid (you can freeze remaining liquid for further batches). Serve with mustard and daikon on the side.
• a cartouche is a paper lid placed directly on the surface of food to slow down the reduction of moisture in cooking. Take a square sheet of baking paper slightly larger than your pan, and fold in half on its diagonal. Repeat twice to make a small triangle. Holding the inner point of the edge of the paper where it reaches the edge of the pan. Unfold paper for your cartouche.
• Awamori, an Okinawan distilled liquor, is available from specialist liquor shops.
• Okinawan black sugar and karashi mustard are available from Japanese and select Asian food shops.
Photography Chris Chen
Styling Jerrie-Joy Redman Lloyd
Food preparation Phoebe Wood