Succulent pork belly fried in a caramel soy sauce glaze and served on top of Japanese steamed white rice, Butadon is a comforting dish that originates from Tokachi, a region in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. Not only is it delicious, but it's also quick to make!
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What is Butadon
Butadon (豚丼) is a simple yet delicious pork rice bowl dish. Pork butt or pork belly is cut into slices and then fried in a homemade caramel soy sauce, a little similar to teriyaki. Because this sauce has a caramel base, the taste has a more complex flavour and even a slight bitterness to it.
Butadon is always made using Japanese white rice and I highly recommend using Japanese rice for donburi dishes. The sticky texture allows you to pick it up easily with chopsticks! If you're unsure how to cook Japanese style rice, I have a post about it here! (No rice cooker required!)
Finally, butadon is usually topped with green peas, edamame or "shiraganegi" (the white part of a long Japanese onion cut into strings). You can also serve it with takuan pickles and miso soup for a complete meal!
Origin of Butadon
Butadon originates from a region in Hokkaido called "Tokachi" (十勝). It's well known for it's high quality pork and locally grown rice, served together it creates the most comforting rice bowl dish.
Pig farming started in the early 1900's in the Tokachi region and the pork was simply steeped in sugar and soy sauce and then cooked on a grill, creating a charred effect. Although grilling is preferred, my recipe only requires a frying pan and I can promise you, it's still delicious.
Butadon is now a regional dish that Tokachi is extremely proud of, if you ever get a chance to go there you should definitely try it out!
Butadon only needs a few ingredients, it's a simple and accessible dish no matter where you are in the world! Even harder to find Japanese ingredients like sake or mirin can be substituted. Read below for more information on each ingredient!
Pork with plenty of fat is used for butadon. I recommend using either pork belly, pork butt or pork shoulder for this dish. If you use pork with a lower fat ratio it could become a bit tough.
I usually buy a block of pork and cut it into thick slices myself, you don't need any special thinly sliced pork for this dish.
The sauce also only requires a handful of ingredients! The Japanese ingredients should be easy to find in Asian supermarkets.
- Sugar and water (to make caramel from scratch)
- Soy sauce (I used Kikkoman soy sauce)
- Mirin (I used Kikkoman mirin)
Sake and mirin are types of alcohol made from rice and are commonly used in Japanese cooking. If you don't have access to sake, you can use Chinese rice wine or dry sherry instead. If you can't find mirin, add a little extra sake and sugar.
Some people might be unsure about using alcohol in cooking, I can assure you that the alcohol will be burned away during the cooking process. However, if you really don't want to use them you can just substitute for water. (It might be lacking slightly though.)
If you enjoyed this butadon dish, you'll love some of these other rice bowl recipes!
- Yakinikudon (Beef fried in a yakiniku BBQ style sauce and served on rice)
- Katsudon (Crispy pork cutlet and steamed egg served on rice)
- Gyudon (Thinly sliced beef and onions simmered in a dashi sauce, served on rice)
- Garlic Teriyaki Chicken don (Flavourful chicken thigh coated in a garlic infused teriyaki sauce and served on rice)
- Oyakodon (Delicious pan fried chicken and steamed egg served on rice)
Watch how to make Tokachi Butadon
Frequently Asked Questions
"Buta" (豚) is the Japanese word for pig or pork, "don" is short for "donburi"(丼) which means rice bowl. So together it simply means pork rice bowl.
I recommend a fatty cut of pork, preferably pork belly, butt or shoulder. Lean cuts tend to get dry/tough in this dish.
If you have a chance, you should try butadon in the region it's famous for! Tokachi in Hokkaido!