What is Buta Kakuni (猪肉角煮)?
In Japanese 'Buta' refers to 'Pork' and 'Kakuni' stewed. Buta Kakuni often goes by the names 'Buta No Kakuni' or simply 'Kakuni'.
Typically, Kakuni also refers to the shape of the pork belly, being square when cooked, although not exclusively so. That will depend on the uniformity of the pork belly used.
The cooking process involves a two-stage braise - firstly the meat is simmered with aromatics like dashi, spring onion and ginger, until tender and then further cooked in a separate sauce of soy, sake, mirin and sugar. This sauce reduced into a thick, sticky consistency which coats the pork in a deep hue.
Kakuni is served in a few ways; alongside steamed rice, as a donburi (rice bowl), steamed rice buns known as 'nikuman' or 'butaman' and even as a topping for Ramen.
It's often eaten as a celebratory dish at certain times of the year including a new year's meal called 'Osechi Ryori'. It's served in special boxes called 'Jubako' as a symbol of prosperity, health, and good fortune.