Kurobuta Pork Ramen

Posted on April 7, 2005 by Aun

Being Chinese, I love pork (well, there’s a sweeping generalization). So, when my wife and I spied some Kurobuta pork belly slices at our local Japanese supermarket, we knew we had to buy some. For the uninitiated, Kurobuta pork is darker in color than other pork—the color is a lovely red—and it is also well-marbled.

The pork is a Japanese specialty, but like Japanese curry, it came to Japan by way of the British (who knew they could influence food culture so much?). Kurobota pork comes from the Berkshire pig. These swine, also referred to as Japanese black hogs, were a gift of the British government in the 19th Century. What a tradition! Can you imagine that happening today?

“Oh, hello Prime Minister Lee, here’s a herd of swine, our nation’s gift to you.” It would create a diplomatic incident, and a none too positive one to boot.

Anyway, this particular pig, legend has it, was first eaten by Oliver Cromwell and his troops in Reading some 300 years ago. Since then, the Berkshire breed has been revered for its outstanding quality, texture and flavor. During the 1800s, the breed was refined and has been bred for consumption. In fact, in 1875, the American Berkshire Association became the first swine registry in American history and has maintained pedigree records ever since.

Today, restaurant chefs like to compare Kurobuta to Kobe beef. It’s rare, expensive (thankfully, not as rare or expensive as Kobe), fatty and very, very tasty. And of course, it hails from Japan, which makes it exotic to most Westerners.

We decided to devour ours with a soupy ramen dish (pictured above). We had some frozen pork stock—the leftovers of a very large pork belly braise—which we reheated with some konbu, garlic and ginger. We braised some Japanese leeks (one of my favourite veggies) in the stock as well. We marinated the pork in a combination of mirin, shiro miso, and soy and then fried it very carefully in some butter. A few hard-boiled eggs and chopped spring onions later, we had perfect Kurobuta Ramen! Yum!

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. JacquelineC March 30, 2006 at 12:59 pm

    Newbie blogger here. Have come across your site a couple of times already. Really enjoy your writing and the photos. My chubby hubby (don’t tell him I called him that!) and I are getting Kurobuta chops and rack delivered from Lobels tomorrow. Our first! We’re so excited. Do you have any recommendations other than ramen? Love to hear your feedback on my blog, too! leatherdistrictgourmet.blogspot.com

  2. Sylvia April 26, 2006 at 6:22 am

    Just found your site after googling for “kurobuta.” I’ve found lots of recipes for pork bellies, but none for sliced, which I happened to buy on sale at one of our local Japanese markets, so I was happy to find yours. I’m not sure I’ll use mine for ramen, but I’m glad to know that you can simply marinate it and saute it. I plan to check out your blog in more detail at another time. Thanks!

    Sylvia from San Francisco, CA, USA

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