Slow Braised Japanese Chashu Pork

Posted December 3, 2015 by Stephanie
braised chashu pork shoulder recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com

I get absurdly nostalgic around the holidays, even for things that happened just a year or two ago. I feel just as much for the memories formed just a short while ago (as short as last week!) as I feel for cherished, barely remembered childhood memories. I’m the sentimental sort – I cry at happy/sad commercials, I’m constantly taking photos in order to commemorate the everyday, and I am always reminiscing, sometimes even in the moment.

braised chashu pork shoulder recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com

I’m pretty sure my sentimentality partially has to do my love of food. There’s something so visceral about the feelings and memories that flood back when you smell something familiar, or taste something strongly tied to a place or time. For the past two years Mike and I have spent Christmas in Tokyo, and now, because of all those bowls of ramen we ate, the smell and taste of slow braised Japanese chashu instantly bring me back to a Japanese Christmas-y feeling. The steamy windows of my favorite tiny ramen shop, the welcome enveloping smell of the broth, and the hot delicious bowls of noodles topped with chashu are pure comfort.

braised chashu pork shoulder recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com

Chashu comes in all shapes and sizes, probably because the Japanese adapted it from char siu, Chinese barbecue pork. They don’t look anything alike because they aren’t: char siu is roasted, whereas chashu is braised. Because it’s one of those recipes that’s been adapted, there are lot of takes on it – you usually see it in rounds, but sometimes you’ll see it as irregular-shaped slices too. And it’s not just it’s shape that differs, the cut of meat does too. You’ll find it made with pork belly, which is super common, or with pork butt/shoulder. They even do chicken chashu as well!

I ended up using shoulder for this recipe and the chashu ended up super flavorful, soft, and fork tender. It was possibly the easiest piece of meat I ever did cook. It isn’t seared because you don’t want that typical crust you get with a braise; what you want is salty-sweet, melt-in-your-mouth pieces of meat. Trust me when I say you can eat heaps of it, along with the braising liquid, on fluffy white rice. It’s true comfort food.

braised chashu pork shoulder recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com

I’m going to have some recipes featuring this pork later on this month, but in the mean time, you can use it to top off your breakfast ramen with chashu, use it in yakiudon, or add it to your fried rice.

PS – This is the first item in a giveaway series: I’m giving away a Staub 4 quart round cocotte! It’s the perfect vessel for making this chashu or other braises. I absolutely love mine and am super excited to be giving one away to a lucky reader. Only thing is, I’m not giving it away yet. Check back here in a couple of days when I’ll announce another giveaway item. It’s kind of like a little giveaway advent – there are five items in all and it’s a pretty exciting bundle!

Update: Enter the giveaway right here!

Slow Braised Japanese Chashu Pork Recipe
serves 4-6

  • 2-3 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce*
  • 1 cup mirin
  • 1 cup sake
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4-5 green onions
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 small shallots, halved

Preheat the oven to 250°F.

Place all of the ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed, oven safe cocotte and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. When the mix comes to boil, cover with the lid and place in the oven and cook for minimum 4 hours, up to 6, flipping pork occasionally. The pork should be super tender.

Remove the pork from the sauce and, gently slice. Serve atop rice with sliced green onions, or use as a topping for ramen, or in steamed buns. Reserve the liquid to use as sauce over noodles or rice, if desired.

Note: You can either cut the pork shoulder into smaller pieces or leave it whole. I tend to cut it if I’m planning on serving it in buns or on noodles.

I used light soy sauce (usukuchi) here.

If you want a cleaner slice, remove the aromatics from the braising liquid. Chill the meat, in the liquid in the fridge. The next day, the chilled chashu will be a lot easier to slice.

braised chashu pork shoulder recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com


  1. i’m definitely more familiar with char siu (my parents would pick some up whenever they were too lazy to cook dinner, or for bringing to family parties), but chasiu sounds just as good (in a different way!). and this sounds like the kind of dish where i’d end up eating too much rice because the sauce is so tasty mixed into it (which is a problem i’m happy to have).

  2. Keyan says:

    Just bought a freezer load of pasture-raised pork from Vermont (we live on LI). This recipe looks too good not to try this weekend. Looks delicious. Thanks Stephanie.

  3. Dude that buzzfeed article is dangerous. That first commercial from Thailand featuring the street vendor really gets me going.

  4. Heather says:

    The holidays always make me nostalgic too! And your descriptions of Japan make me want to go there even more than I already did, which I didn’t think was possible since it’s been at the top of my travel bucket list for a while.

  5. Allyn says:

    I just bought an amazing pressure cooker and have been wanting more recipes to test it with, and this is soooooo the kind of recipe I’d make anyway. Might have to give this a try!

  6. Kari says:

    I love how this looks like it will just melt in your mouth!

  7. Yoojin says:

    this i the perfect addition to some warm ramen!!

  8. Alana says:

    Ahhh! Steph, this chashu looks soooo good right now. I wish i had a big ole pot of white rice to go with it!! Ps – love the virtual advent!! :D

  9. cynthia says:

    I love all of this so much, Steph <3 the comfort of this dish, sentimentality (I'm so with you!!) and these happy memories of Tokyo. Yay for the holidays and for your gorgeous cooking!!

  10. Julie says:

    Not only was this dish delicious, it made the house smell so good all afternoon long! Thanks for the recipe, everyone here loved it!

  11. Kat says:

    I’m not sure if you know the answer to this, but would you able to substitute Chinese Shaoxing cooking wine for the sake in this recipe? I usually do that when I make teriyaki, but this recipe calls for a full cup…

  12. Kaitlin says:

    I made this over the weekend and it was amazing! Thank you for the recipe. Gonna use some leftovers for stir fry – I hope that’s not sacrilege :)

  13. I’m wondering if I were to do this sous vide with pork tenderloin and adding everything to the bag I could achieve something similar.

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      i think that would work – might be too much liquid though, maybe try reducing the liquid first? let me know how it works out!

  14. Scott says:

    They came out great, the recipe exactly as is! Threw some flour tortillas on the burner and enjoyed fusion carnitas!

  15. Stef says:

    Hi Steph! I get sentimental about things during the holidays too and braising meat is one of them! I have everything for this recipe except the sake, and right now there is a blizzard here and I don’t want to brave the icy roads to go to the store! Do you think it would come out right if I just put in more mirin, maybe diluted a little with water?

  16. Tex says:

    Can this be made in a crock pot? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      i haven’t tried but i think it would definitely work in a crock pot!

      1. Jerry says:

        I made it in a crockpot! It was amazing! :)

        1. Stephanie says:

          yay! so happy you liked it :)

        2. Sakurako Kato says:

          How long did you do it in the crock pot and at what heat? Thanks!

        3. Sakurako Kato says:

          If I were to double or triple the recipe, does the cooking time remain the same?

  17. Ruth says:

    Made this yesterday. Sooooo good!

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      yay!! so happy you like it! :)

  18. Rachel says:

    Made this last night while snowed in. It turned out amaaaazing! Had it over ramen but we’re going to try it over rice with egg and some green onion slices. Thank you for the recipe! Can’t wait to try your other ones.

  19. alex says:

    Hi, just wondering if mirin/sake can be replaced with shaoxing wine? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      i haven’t tried, but i think it could, but might be a bit wine-y tasting? if you like the flavor of shaoxing wine, i say go for it! let me know how it turns out :)

  20. Jacob Crim says:

    I’ve been making this recipe since I discovered your site, and it’s always fantastic. But I Just found out the mirin I’m using isnt “real” mirin. Do you have an recommendations for turning Sake into mirin? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hey jacob,

      making your own mirin at home is crazy difficult – i’m not sure how you’d control the alcohol content.they do sell “real mirin,” you just have to do a bit of searching, so i suggest buying it online!

  21. Collin S says:

    Sorry to bring this back from the dead, but what type of soy sauce are you using? Koikuchi or Usukuchi?

    1. Stephanie says:

      it’s usukuchi! thanks for asking, i’ll update the recipe

  22. Gina says:

    I made it yesterday because we have a Japanese guest. And he said it is better than the one they gave in Japan. What a compliment. It so good with white rice or noodles. Thank you so much!!

  23. Ray says:

    Hi Stephanie!
    If I have pork belly on hand, would you change the cooking time or anything else? I’d appreciate any advice thanks so much!!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hey ray, i think the cooking times should be okay but i would start checking it at around 2 hours to see if it’s tender enough for you and then go from there! hope that helps :)

  24. Su says:

    Can this be made with beef

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi su,
      i haven’t tried so i’m not sure what the timing would be on it!

  25. asy says:

    anyone try this in an instant pot?

  26. Manu says:


    Just wanted to let you know i’m using your receipe for the past 3 years and it turns to be one of my favorite food ever. Every time I need confort food, I go for this one. So thanks again for sharing :)

    1. Stephanie says:

      thank you so much manu! that makes me so happy, you have no idea :) thanks for taking the time to leave a comment too!

  27. nicole says:

    we love this chashu pork and make it frequently, its such an easy comforting meal! and it goes great as a topping for darn near everything- ramen, baked potato, heck we’ve put leftovers on burgers and hot dogs before too with a bit of kewpie mayo and its fantastic. we were thinking of making it in an instant pot for the first time since we’re craving it but not wanting to use the oven in the summer heat. has anyone tried it before that can give an idea of timing or if we should increase any of the flavorings? thanks in advance!

  28. Kyle says:

    How come there is no mention of searing this meat ever? A good sear at the beginning or the end could never hurt right?

    1. Stephanie says:

      you can definitely sear it, but classically, it’s super tender and un-seared!

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