Simmered Pork Spare Ribs with Daikon

The Japanese giant white radish is commonly known as daikon, “dai” meaning large and “kon” meaning root. Daikon is radish or Japanese turnip is a popular root crop in Japan especially in winter.

I used to not like daikon in my early years in Japan but alas, everything is an acquired taste and have become one of my favorites later on. The husband loves it so I cook it often during winter in Japan. I saw a big daikon in the supermarket here in Dubai (even if it’s not winter!) a few days ago and remembered how he loved it and decided to cook this dish.

It has been a hit.


  • 750 grams pork spare ribs
  • 1 medium sized radish
  • 2 Tbsp oil (I used 1 Tbsp sesame and 1 Tbsp vegetable oil)
  • slices of ginger
  • water

Optional: 1 Tbsp Kikkoman Soy Sauce and 1 Tbsp Mirin

For the sauce, mix together:

1. Cut the spare ribs into bite sizes.

2. Wash, peel and slice the radish into rounds then to halves.

3.  Slice the ginger.

4. Heat oil in fry pan, add ginger slices and braise the spare ribs until a bit brown. No need to cook through.

5.  Add the sliced daikon.

6. Transfer into pressure cooker and add the sauce mix and water until just submerged.

7. Cover the pressure cooker and cook for 15 minutes.

Note: If you don’t have pressure cooker, you can still simmer it the traditional way with a deep pot.

8.  Turn off the fire and let the pressure cooker settle.

9. Open the cooker lid and check if the meat is already tender. If not, remove the daikon, close again and pressure cook for another 5 minutes. Removing the daikon while making the meat tender prevents it from becoming too soft and crumbling.

10. Just before serving, taste the soup. I added 1 Tbsp of soy sauce and 1 Tbsp of mirin just to add a little oomph. The final taste is totally up to you because I think as is, it already had that great mild taste.

The daikon will be more tasty the next day as it absorbs all the good flavors of the soup. The tender spare rib meat will make you melt.


UAE/Dubai residents can get various Japanese ingredients from the Japanese store, Dean’s Fujiya located near Lamcy Plaza in Bur Dubai. Telephone: 04-337-0401.

Buta no Shogayaki

Pork shogayaki

“Buta” means pork and shogayaki comes from two words, “shoga” which means ginger and “yaki” which means “fried”. Buta no shogayaki is simply Japanese pan fried ginger-flavored pork. It’s quick, easy and delicious so naturally, it’s a popular dish in Japan and you can find lunch/dinner sets of this at most Japanese restaurants. It’s sweet with the tangy twist of ginger.

This dish works best on two conditions (nothing scary, I promise): (1) Pork must be thinly sliced, like bacon thin and (2) It is important to use Mirin as sherry and other wine won’t give that authentic shogayaki taste.

grated ginger


  • 200g Pork belly (very thin slice)*
  • 1 onion
  • potatoes (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch


* Dubai residents can buy thinly sliced pork belly at Spinneys Al Ghurair City branch. There are many Japanese families residing at Al Ghurair so Spinneys caters to them with these kind of specially sliced meats.


  • 3 Tbsp Japanese rice cooking wine
  • 2 Tbsp Kikkoman Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp ginger juice (squeezed from grated ginger)


1. Slice the meat into bite sizes and place into a small bowl. If there is pork skin attached to the meat, remove it.

thin sliced meat concat

2. Add the ingredients for MARINATE to pork and mix well. Leave for at least 10 minutes.

marinate meat

3. Mix all the ingredients for SAUCE. Set aside.

4.  Slice onions and pre-boiled potatoes (optional).


If using potatoes (like I did because my daughter loves shogayaki with it):

Heat a small amount of oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the cooked potatoes. Use only a little oil so the potatoes are crisp but not greasy.  Note that I boil the potatoes and cook them first before slicing and frying them.

Add salt and a dash of pepper.

fry potatoes

Cook both sides and place on a flat plate.

potatoes in plate

The potatoes doesn’t really look beautiful around the edges because they are sliced after boiled. And I don’t really have room for beautiful in the morning. I assure you, the taste is as good as good ‘ol lightly fried potatoes.


5. Go back to the marinated meat – Drain the marinate sauce and add 1 Tbsp cornstarch to the meat. Mix with your hand until well blended.

6.  Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan and saute sliced onions until translucent.

7. Push the onion aside and add the cornstarch coated meat into the pan. Stir constantly to avoid scorching.

onion and meat

8. When the meat is no longer pink (already cooked), stir the onions together.

9. Add the sauce and let simmer for about 3 minutes.

simmer sauce

10. Pour into the fried potatoes (or into a plate if you opt out the potatoes) and serve.

Note: You can serve it on top of rice for that one bowl meal. Other variations would include serving it with finely chopped uncooked cabbage.

Buta no kakuni – Japanese braised pork belly

One of my biggest fears before our move to Dubai (from Japan) was pork – or rather the “might be” absence of it in the grocery stores. After all, the United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country and pork is banned in the Muslim diet. Luckily, Dubai/the UAE is friendly to non-Muslim expats and grocery stores have this dedicated area where they keep foods like pork meat, sausages and bacon. Pork loving expats like me can’t be more grateful.

Buta no kakuni = buta (pork/pig) + kaku (square) + ni (from the word, “niru”: meaning braised/broiled) so buta no kakuni is tenderly simmered pork squares with a rich flavorful taste. I love it, my husband loves it, my friends love me for it, YOU will love it. It is a popular menu in Japanese izakayas (drinking joints) as an accompaniment to alcohol like sake or beer.

It takes a while to cook this but it is worth the time and and effort. That, I promise you.


  • 500 g pork belly
  • 1 large ginger, sliced
  • 1 cup Japanese rice cooking wine
  • 4 Tbsp Kikkoman soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Mirin

buta no kakuni - ingredients


1.  Cut the pork belly into your desired square sizes. I don’t want to take too much time so my pork belly squares are not too big but not too small to disintegrate during cooking.

Note: If your pork belly comes with the skin and you’re perfectly ok with that, you can by all means retain the skin. We remove it.

2. Slice the ginger. Again, no preference in the sizes. I would cry if recipes call for ginger sizes, like 1 cm thick or 10 mm thin…I don’t keep rulers in my kitchen!

3. Heat a non-stick frying pan in medium fire and braise the belly WITHOUT adding oil. Do you see those white parts of the pork belly? Those shed oil so better not add anything more.

buta no kakuni - braised

Braise all sides until they are beautifully brown but not fully cooked and have lost all their spirit. Do not fry them to a crisp!

Note: Do not throw the oil from the meat – you can always use them for later, for making fried rice or stir-fried vegetables.

4. Prepare a pot and transfer the braised pork bellies and cover with water. Add the sliced ginger. Bring to boil.

buta no kakuni - simmer

5. Remove the scum that floats while it’s boiling.

6. Pour 1 cup of Japanese rice wine and cover with a drop lid (otoshibuta). If you have none, it’s ok. You can improvise by forming a piece of aluminum foil into a circle and cutting a cross in the center.

Lower the fire to prepare to simmer this for at least two hours, constantly checking on the water level (be careful not to let it all evaporate and burn your meat!) and the tenderness of the meat. The thicker the meat, the more time it will take  to cook but you already know that.

buta no kakuni - otoshi buta

By the way, the proper Japanese otoshibuta (drop-lid) looks like this:


7. When the meat is tender, this is where you trasform this seemingly heart-attack menu to a healthier one by telling the extra fats that they have no place in your arteries. Do the following steps:

  • Allow the simmered pork belly to cool down
  • Refrigerate for a few hours so the fat floats
  • Either: scoop out the fats or strain using a fine cheese cloth
  • Throw the fat, retain the liquid.

8. Bring back the meat and the fat-reduced liquid and heat in low-medium fire.

9. Add the soy sauce and simmer further.

10. Lastly, add the mirin to glaze. Serve hot with vegetable accompaniment or with boiled egg. Vegetable accompaniments can be green beans, spinach. The whole boiled eggs will taste so good after leaving them in the sauce for a day.

buta no kakuni - finished 

Warning: The oh-so tender meat will melt in your mouth.


Dubai/UAE residents can buy pork at the dedicated non-Muslim sections of Spinney’s, Choithrams and Al Maya supermarkets. Japanese ingredients are available at the Japanese grocery store Dean’s Fujiya, near Lamcy Plaza in Bur Dubai. Telephone no: 04-337-0401.