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This post is by Kay, who writes the K’s Kitchen section of Todd’s Wanderings. She also happens to be Todd’s lovely wife!

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Japanese Yakibuta

Tender and delicious! This is my favorite of the New Years dishes. Of course it is used in ramen as well.

Todd and I spent our New Years in Japan stuffing ourselves with my Mom’s cooking. New Years in Japan is a very busy time, especially in the kitchen as we have to get ready for our New Years meal. This year my Mom welcomed the help and I rolled up my sleeves, put on the apron and got to cook with her after being away for New Years for 3 years.

Osechi-Ryouri is a traditional Japanese food that Japanese eat for New Year’s. It is said that the tradition started during the Heian Period (794-1185) but originally came from China. Osechi-Ryouri is comprised of different dishes, such as:

Nishime-cooked vegetables such as carrots, bamboo shoot, konjac, Japanese taro potatoes, and lotus root

Datemaki-process product made of white fish meat, shrimps, and eggs

Kurikinton-a sweet dish made of sweet potatoes and chest nut),

Osechi Ryori Japanese New Years Food

So many different dishes! The Pork is in the top left corner.

Kouhaku Namasu-marinated thinly sliced carrots and Daikon radish – carrot represents ‘Kou’ meaning red and radish represents ‘haku’ meaning white. The combination of red and white shows happiness), ‘Yakimono’ (roasted seafood such as Japanese amberjack, sea bream, and shrimps

Kouhaku Kamaboko-red and white fish broiled paste

Kazunoko-herring roe

Kuromame-cooked black soy beans with sweet taste), and more

Each dish has meaning which you can find out more here.

Typically, you spend 2-3 days to cook all these dishes at the end of December. You then eat Osechi for 3 days from Jan 1 to 3, as we are not supposed to cook for the first 3 days, although recently many families only follow this tradition for a day or two. Besides Osechi, ‘Zouni’ and ‘Toso’ are accompanied, which I will not get into details this time (see the link above for full descriptions).

Japanese Yakibuta (cooked pork loin- in Chinese they call it Char Siu)

My mother cooks Osechi-Ryori every year and put them in Jyuu-Bako (2-5 layered boxes to put food in for special occasion). The boxes are typically made of wood or lacquer-ware but recently plastic is also popular. Although it seems that Jyuu-bako can be traced back in Muromachi era (1338-1573), it is during Edo era (1610) that Jyuu-bako became popular.

Jubako Japanese Food Box

The food is served in the boxes on the right which come apart. Middle pot is filled with sweet sake.

In my family, one of the usual dishes that we include in Osechi-Ryouri besides the above mentioned dishes is ‘Japanese Yakibuta’, a cooked pork with a special sauce. As most dishes mentioned above make better sense together and some of them are very time consuming, or prepared products (such as Datemaki and Kamaboko), I have selected this popular dish ‘Japanese Yakibuta’ which is tasty by itself. The recipe is originally from my grandmother which my mother adjusted over years.


Pork loin: 500g


Sake: 1 Tablespoon

Oyster sauce: 1 Tablespoon

Sugar: 50g

Regular Soy sauce: 110 cc (originally 65 cc of this 110 cc would be Chinese soy sauce. Feel free to use this is you know the difference :)

Leaks: one stick chopped

Ginger: some slices

Cinnamon stick: 1 stick

Japanese pepper (Sanshou): 7-10 grains

Star Anise (Hakkaku): 2-3 pieces

How to cook (cooking/preparation time: 30-40 min)

1.    Wind the string around the pork loin to help it keep its shape and poke it with the stick all around

2.    Put all the spices in the bowl and soak the pork in it for 3-4 hours. Turn the pork around from time to time.

3.    Pour 1 Tablespoon of oil into a frying pan and sauté the pork with a big flame to brown the outside.

4.    Move the pork and the spices and the sauce into a thick bottom pot, add water until the meat is covered to the top, and cook until it is boiled. Remove the forms on the top.

5.    Turn down the flame to a mid range and cook for 30-40 min until the sauce gets thick.

Once the meat cools down, cut the pork into 5 mm thick slices and serve with some vegetables as well as with the sauce. In my family, we like to serve the meat with a potato salad.

How does it look? Let us know how it turns out or feel free to ask questions.

Photo Credit Yakibuta

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22 Responses to “Yakibuta Recipie: How to Cook Japanese Marinated Pork Loin”

  1. DeniseNo Gravatar says:

    Oh that makes me so hungry!!!
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  2. Looks yummy Todd–I did not try this in Japan (bummer!).

  3. sarah wuNo Gravatar says:

    Yummy!~ Yea I remember they always put like 2 or 3 pieces in reman here. :)

  4. JereNo Gravatar says:

    This looks declicious! Did she cook this up while you were in Japan? :)
    Jere´s recent [type] ..A purpose driven travel life

  5. Jozef MaxtedNo Gravatar says:

    This looks mouth watering!! Its nice to hear about other Japanese foods as rather naively I kinda presumed Sushi was the only food eaten out there haha This does look nice though, will definitely try it some time.
    Jozef Maxted´s recent [type] ..Picking The Places You Want To Visit

    • ToddNo Gravatar says:

      There is soooo much more than sushi, but it can all be very confusing due to the huge variety. I’m happily eating my way through it all.

  6. yummmmm!
    pork ramen are the best!
    retirebyforty´s recent [type] ..Overheard In The Break Room- an xtranormal animation

  7. Thanks for your comments on K’s kitchen. Re:sake, you can simply skip it if you don’t have one. Sake adds to the depth of taste but does not significantly change the taste without it. As for anise, you can probably use a piece of clove or two. Enjoy cooking!!

  8. AdamNo Gravatar says:

    YUM! This looks delicious. Pork loin is one of my favorite meats, and I’m always looking for new ways to cook it. Spice rubs, barbecue, sweet and sour, I’ve tried many ways and like them all. This one will have to get bookmarked cause it looks quite tasty. Thanks for sharing!
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  9. robinNo Gravatar says:

    that. Looks. DELICIOUS.
    robin´s recent [type] ..Mezquita

  10. jadeNo Gravatar says:

    YUM- sounds delicious! I might have to get Bob to try and cook this- he is much better at cooking than I am!
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  11. KimNo Gravatar says:

    Yum! Love this post. It’s great to hear about traditions around the world. :o )
    Kim´s recent [type] ..10 Must-Try Drinks Around the World

  12. lauraNo Gravatar says:

    oh this is lovely, I love the references to Japanese culture and really makes me want to visit Japan even more!! well done Kay!! Still have to try the recipe though… looking forward to seeing you both :)

  13. Oh you do know the way to my heart. Unfortunately can’t get sake (or sherry vinegar) here or star anise, any suggestions for substitutions?
    Ayngelina Brogan´s recent [type] ..The secret I’m most afraid to tell you

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