It’s Spring, and the weather has been unseasonably warm. The perfect excuse to fire up the barbecue. My family has a penchant for anything marinated, skewered and grilled. No doubt a consequence of many a visit to the Japanese izakaya both here and abroad.
More often than not I prepare chicken yakitori. A guaranteed crowd pleaser. This time I’m determined to recreate another of my favourite izakaya offerings. Butabara. Grilled pork belly. Thinly sliced. Marinated in tare, a very special sweet soy, sake and mirin sauce. Threaded onto skewers with spring onions. Lightly charred over a searing hot grill. All the work is in the initial preparation. This deceptively simple recipe produces meltingly rich, mouthwateringly delicious pork belly. So good I think I might even prefer it over chicken yakitori.
Grilled Pork Belly Skewers With Green Spring Onion
I like to use a whole piece of pork belly for this dish. Once the skin is removed I bake it in a hot oven so I can serve beautifully crisp pork crackle on the side. Tips for achieving great pork crackle can be found in this post. If I am baking crackle on its own I still like to blanch it first with boiling hot water. I then dry it with paper towels and leave it on the kitchen bench for an hour to air dry thoroughly before baking.
If you would like to try chicken yakitori, the process is very similar, just substitute chicken thigh fillets for the pork belly. Original recipe post here.
Makes approximately 20 skewers
1/2 cup Japanese soy sauce
1/4 cup dashi or chicken stock
1/4 cup mirin
4 tablespoons sake
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 kg slab pork belly
8 long green spring onions, trimmed, cut into 4cm lengths
20 bamboo skewers
SOAK skewers in cold water for 15 minutes. Drain.
REMOVE skin from the pork belly and slice thinly into 1.5cm – 2cm thick rashers. Then slice each rasher into 4 cm wide strips.
MEANWHILE, combine soy sauce, stock, mirin, sake, sugar and pepper in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 5 minutes or until sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. Allow to cool completely.
PLACE sliced pork in a glass or ceramic bowl. Coat with half the cooled sauce. Cover and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
THREAD pork and spring onions onto skewers. Place onto a paper lined tray. Brush with some of the reserved sauce.
PREHEAT bbq or grill on medium-high heat until hot. Grill skewers, basting with sauce, for 6 to 8 minutes or until cooked through.
SERVE with ice cold beer.
This looks amazing! I don’t think I’ve ever tried pork belly in a skewer. I usually have it simmered in soy sauce with hard boiled eggs.
We have had pork belly prepared this way at many an izakaya in Jaoan. Our favourite was at a little place called Raku in the Niseko ski fields. I was a bit dubious preparing it this way at home, I usually slow bake pork belly for hours but it really works. I think it’s because the slices are so thin.
How can one say no to meltingly rich pork belly?
I can never resist it!
Oh my! That does look delicious!
Blanching before boiling for crackling? I’d forgotten that. Thank you!
A Chinese friend enlightened me about this trick many years ago. Of course if I’m baking a joint I allow the rind to dry out overnight in the fridge. We are huge fans of crackle in our house.
Tried this last night and it was delicious, have put up on my blog, with few small changes I made. Have linked back to you, hope you are ok with that. Cheers, Deb
I’m always flattered when some-one cooks from one of my posts, let alone inspired to write their very own post about it. Glad you enjoyed your butabara. They are delicious. I’m sure every self respecting Japanese housewife has her very own “secret” version depending on what’s in the kitchen pantry.
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