Photos by Shoji Kudaka

Photos by Shoji Kudaka ()

If your travels throughout the island of Okinawa, you may have stumbled across a dish fit for kings. It’s true, rafute, or braised pork belly, was served as a staple to Okinawan royalty.

Today, it is a dish enjoyed by all as a side at dinner, or a snack that pairs well with liquor. Its well-seasoned savory and sweet taste is loved on the island and on the mainland.

There are many ways to prepare this delicious dish, and at times, people can spend hours preparing and cooking it. You can reduce the cook time significantly by using a pressure cooker as I did in the recipe below.

Give it a try and you, too, will feel like royalty with this delicious Okinawan dish!


  • Pork belly (750g)

  • Water (Enough to soak and boil pork belly in a pot and another 1,400 cc to make the soup stock)

  • Sugar (200cc)

  • Soy sauce (133cc)

  • Awamori liquor (200cc)


  1. Sear or grill the pork belly on the stove or with an open flame until the skin starts to brown a bit.

  2. After, run the pork belly under water for a quick rinse, then it goes into a pot of boiling water for 30 minutes.

  3. Once the pork belly turns pale in color, remove from heat and water. Once the meat has cooled, cut it into 1.6 to 2-inch cubes.

  4. Pour water (1,400cc) and bonito flakes in a pot and heat until the water begins to boil. Remove the bonito flakes and your stoup stock is ready.

  5. Place the pork belly, sugar and awamori liquor into the pressure cooker. Pour the soup stock over the ingredients. Close the pressure cooker and let the pork belly cook for 20 minutes over high heat.

  6. Turn off the heat and release the accumulated vapor through the piston. Once the pressure is fully released, open the lid. Pour and mix in soy sauce. Secure the lid once more and resume the heat for another 20 minutes.

  7. Once again, turn the heat off and release the accumulated vapor through the piston and then open your pressure cooker once the pressure stops coming out. Cook the pork belly for another 20 minutes over high heat without the lid. The pork belly should be tender and the skin and fat glossy.

  8. Plate the pork pieces and pour some of the cooking liquid from inside the pressure cooker over it.

  9. Pair this as a side or with your favorite awamori liquor and enjoy. Bon appetite!

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