This tender Chashu pork belly recipe is so easy to make at home and it’s the perfect topping for your next slurpy bowl of homemade Tonkotsu ramen. Braised in a sweet and savory mix of soy sauce, mirin, sake, and aromatics, this Chashu recipe is for all the pork belly lovers out there like us — and it’s so delicious you can use it for chashu bowls, pork buns, or just tuck it between two slices of bread.
It’s hard to choose which ramen topping is our favorite and it’s definitely a close call between jammy sweet and salty ramen eggs (Ajitsuke Tamago) and these tender slices of salty-sweet melt-in-your-mouth braised pork belly chashu (チャーシュー). This is the best pork for ramen you can make. In the photographs above, I used a torch to sear the chashu on the left and pan-seared the chashu on the right. But no matter which way you sizzle up the final pork, it’s delicious.
What is Chashu?
Chashu is a Japanese braised pork belly dish adapted from the Cantonese Chinese barbecued pork dish, Char Siu. Char siu is sticky sweet, bright red pork that’s roasted over high heat while being basted with a sweet and salty barbecue sauce. It’s a dish you’ll often see hanging from shop windows and street stalls in mainland China, or stuffed into pillowy bao buns. Unlike char siu (叉燒) that’s roasted, Japanese chashu is braised (in a style similar to Sichuanese red-braised pork belly 红烧肉) in a sauce consisting of soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar, and aromatics. It’s usually (but not always) tied up with butcher’s twine giving it its signature rolled appearance that helps keep the meat tender.
Why We Love This Homemade Pork Chashu Recipe
- It takes 5 minutes to prepare the marinade
- You can torch it to sizzle it up, or just pan-sear it and it’s great either way
- Use this pork for Chashu donburi bowls (or eat it with noodles, or as even sandwich meat)
- Chashu can be made 2 or 3 days in advance
- You can use the leftover Chashu braising liquid to make delicious ramen eggs (Ajitsuke Tamago)
Chashu Pork Ingredients
This pork chashu recipe uses basic Asian pantry staples plus a few aromatics to turn delicious pork belly into something sublime. I’ve used Shaoxing wine in place of sake this time because it’s a great substitute in this recipe if you’re out of sake (which I was). If you have dried shitake mushrooms on hand throw a couple into the braising sauce to add extra umami. When everything’s finished cooking, slice them and use them as a super tasty ramen topper.
- pork belly
- soy sauce
- sake (sub Shaoxing wine)
- shallot (optional)
- leeks (optional)
- dried shitake mushroom (optional)
You Can Braise Pork Chashu 3 Different Ways
Even though pork chashu looks pretty all rolled and tied up with twine, it’s actually easier to braise the pork belly unrolled (lying flat like in the photos above) in the sauce. You can braise it rolled up and on the stovetop covered, or not rolled up cooked on the stovetop, or lying flat in the braising liquid and cooked in the oven. There are a few benefits to not rolling the pork belly for chashu, but there’s also a potential tradeoff if you don’t roll it:
- When the pork belly isn’t rolled you don’t have to baste or turn it over every 30 minutes to make sure all sides are submerged in the braising liquid like you have to do when it’s rolled up. This makes it pretty much hands-off cooking.
- There’s less mess involved when you don’t roll the pork belly because you’re not wrangling a slippery piece of fatty pork into a circle and tying it (which isn’t difficult, but it does take a few minutes and your hands do get very porky in the process).
- The tradeoff if you don’t roll the pork belly for chashu, is that the finished pork may not be quite as tender. When more of the meat’s surface area is exposed to the braising liquid, the pork loses more moisture during the cooking process. That said, I’ve made it both ways, and if you cook it slowly and properly, the unrolled chashu is just as good. You can even add the slab of pork belly to a baking dish and slowly braise it in the oven at 325°F/162°C for 2 1/2 to 3 hours which guarantees perfectly cooked tender braised chashu every time. How you decide to cook it is up to you.
How to Make Easy Pork Chasu at Home
While you can also braise pork chashu in the oven, we’re using the most common stovetop method today. Check the recipe notes to find the instructions for oven-braised pork chashu if you’d rather cook that way.
- Make the chashu braising liquid. To a large pot, add all of the ingredients (except the pork belly) and slowly start to heat it stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Tie the pork belly with twine & sear (optional). While the chashu braising liquid is heating up, roll the pork up into a circle and tie it with butcher’s twine to secure it. Repeat several times to make sure the pork belly is rolled as tightly as possible and secure. Add 1 tablespoon of neutral cooking oil to a preheated cast iron skillet (or another heavy-bottomed skillet) set over medium-high heat and add the rolled pork. Sear the outside turning as needed until all sides are golden brown. *Searing is optional but produces a great flavor and seal in the juices.
- Braise the pork belly. Place the pork belly into the braising liquid, cover it with a lid, and bring it to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer on the lowest setting for 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 hours basting and turning the pork over every 30 minutes until the sauce is reduced and the meat is tender. Remove the pork to a platter and strain the braising liquid skimming off most of the fat (save it for another use or discard). Place the pork into a container or bag and pour just enough cooled braising liquid over it to mostly immerse the pork. Save the remaining braising liquid to drizzle over rice, or to make ramen eggs. Once the pork and brine have cooled for about 1 hour, twist the bag to remove any air and place it in the refrigerator overnight.
- Slice & reheat the chashu. Remove the chashu from the refrigerator and the braising liquid and pat dry. Using a very sharp knife, make thin or thick slices of chashu and reheat as desired by either pan-searing, adding it to reheated braising liquid until warmed through, or using a kitchen torch to sizzle both sides and Enjoy!
How to Make Ramen Eggs step-by-step recipe photos
How to Reheat Homemade Pork Chasu
You can easily reheat sliced pork chashu 3 different ways:
- use a kitchen torch to sear it on both sides
- pan-sear it in a skillet on both sides until warmed through
- reheat the strained braising liquid and add sliced chashu to the pot until warmed through
How to Store Homemade Pork Chasu
Homemade chashu can be made 2 or 3 days in advance and stored sliced in the marinade in the refrigerator until ready to reheat and eat. Or you may slice it and freeze it for up to 3 months. In this case, I like to add parchment paper or freezer paper in between each slice so I can easily remove just what I need for a recipe and put the rest back.
Other Ramen Month Recipes to Make the Perfect Piping Hot Bowl
If you’re just getting into making homemade ramen (and all the delicious components that go with it), you can start from the beginning with our favorite ramen recipes. Lots of these components can and should be made ahead and frozen which makes it easy to have real ramen any night of the week with minimal prep work. Here are the delicious Ramen Month recipes starting with baked baking soda.
- How to Make Baked Baking Soda (for Ramen, Chinese Wheat Noodles & Pretzels)
- How To Make Homemade Ramen Noodles From Scratch (The Easy Way)
- How to Make Perfect Jammy Ramen Eggs (Ajitsuke Tamago 味付け卵)
- Easy Japanese Braised Pork Belly (for Momofuku & Ippudo Style Pork Buns)
- How to Make Crispy Shallow-Fried Chicken Breast Cutlets (like chicken katsu)
- Crispy Shallow-Fried Turkey Breast Cutlets (like turkey katsu)
- Fluffy-Soft Homemade Pork Buns (Momofuku & Ippudo-Style)
- Rich and Creamy Homemade Tonkotsu Ramen Broth Recipe
Let’s get started!Print