Yakibuta is roast pork similar to Cha Siu of China. While Cha Siu uses a variety of spices such as star anise and cinnamon and also honey to flavor the meat, Japanese Yakibuta has a much simpler taste. Yakibuta is usually sliced thinly and served as a dish for an appetizer or a part of meals, and it is also a very popular topping for Ramen.
In Japan, cooked Yakibuta can be easily found at meat shops and supermarkets. However, it is harder to find it at stores or restaurants other than Ramen shops in the US. Sliced Yakibuta is a staple topping for Japanese Ramen, although a lot of Ramen shops in Japan don’t have ovens and therefore use boiled pork (we use a boiled Salted Pork recipe in our Ramen recipe). Yakibuta is also a very good little appetizer for drinks. The sweet soy sauce flavor goes well with steamed rice too. Speaking of the flavor, it is seasoned very sweet and some may think it has too much sugar in it. And it does! However, the sugar helps tenderize the meat and gives great flavor to the dish too. Most of the sugar stays in the marinade sauce, and as long as you don’t drink it (yak!), you won’t consume too much sugar from this dish.
We omit the process here in the video, but you could use the marinade sauce for your dipping sauce. You have to heat it first since there was raw meat in it. Let the sauce simmer for 10-15 minutes and reduce the amount of sauce to about half. Then strain to remove fat and ginger and garlic. It will get thicker as it cools. You may not need much since the meat already has a good taste, but it is a nice sweet dipping sauce on the side.
You could use any cut of pork of your preference. If you use “pork roast,” it may taste a little dry because there is not much fat. But you can enjoy a more dense and meaty feel, and also it is healthier. Pork belly can be used too, and it is juicy and very flavorful, but may be a little too fatty for some people. We used “shoulder butt,” and it was something in between. A combination of some fat and dense meat is suited well for Yakibuta.
It is very easy to make, and you can make it ahead. Try this tasty dish at home!
- 2 lb pork shoulder butt (900g)
- 1/2 C soy sauce (120ml)
- 1/4 C Sake (60ml)
- 1/2 C sugar (100g)
- 4-5 thick slices ginger root
- 1 clove garlic
- Tie the meat at 1" intervals with cotton twine (string).
- Put all the ingredients along with the pork in a plastic bag, close and marinade in the refrigerator for at least 4-5 hours, or preferably overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350F (175C), and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, turning and basting a couple of times.
- Take the meat out from the oven and let it stand for 30 minutes; remove the strings, and slice.