Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)


Something for the omnivores! Pork is the most popular meat in Japanese cooking, but so far I haven’t posted any (non-bacon) pork recipes on Just Bento, though I do have a couple over on Just Hungry that are bento-friendly, such as tonkatsu (breaded and fried pork cutlets). This classic sweet-salty, intensely flavored miso marinated pork is really well suited to bentos. It is similar to miso chicken, but a bit more complex in flavor.

Recipe: Miso marinated pork

This makes enough for 2 to 3 bentos.

Time required: 5-10 minutes to marinade, some hours (up to 24) to marinate, and 5-8 minutes to cook.

  • 2 thinly cut boneless pork cutlets, each about 100g / 3 oz (A cut with a bit of fat marbling will be tastier, but lean filet is ok too. A very fatty cut such as pork belly would be too much.)
  • 3 Tbs. white miso
  • 3 Tbs. red miso (if you don’t have 2 kinds of miso, using one kind is fine. Or you could come up with your own blend!)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbs. sake or sweet sherry (see the role of alcohol, ginger etc. in Japanese meat dishes)
  • 1 Tbs. sugar

If your pork cutlets are too thick (they should be about 5mm / about 1/5th of an inch thick), pound them out a bit with the side of a heavy knife or a meat tenderizer until they are thin enough.

Put all the ingredients except for the pork in a plastic ziplock bag. Mix the ingredients together by massaging the bag with your hands.

Put the pork cutlets in the bag, and close the bag up, expelling as much air as you can when you do so. Then, massage the marinade over the pork so that the pork is completely covered. See the photos below.


(Note: I’m using a method that keeps the hands as clean as possible, since the miso marinade is a bit messy. Of course if you object to the use of plastic bags, you can combine the marinade in a bowl or other container, then spread it over the pork with a spoon and your fingers.)

Make sure the bag is completely closed, and leave the meat to marinate for several hours or overnight. You should not marinate it much more than 24 hours though, or the salt in the miso will draw out the moisture of the pork too much and make it very dry.

When you are ready to cook the pork, pull them out of the bag, squeezing off as much of the miso as you can. The meat will have turned dark and rather transculent.


For bentos, cut the meat into bitesized pieces, and fry in a frying pan with just a little oil over medium heat for just 2-3 minutes or so on each side. Watch the meat so that it doesn’t burn (the miso on the surface may turn a bit black, but that’s ok.) When done, it should be cooked through but still juicy, and the surface should be a burnished brown.



Freezing: Put it in the freezer as soon as you put the meat into the miso marinade. The freezing process seems to retard the penetration of the marinade, so that it doesn’t draw too much moisture out of the meat. Thaw the meat marinade and all in the refrigerator the day before you intend to use it. You may want to freeze individual cutlets wrapped separately, so that you can pull out just as many as you need at a time.

If you don’t want to deal with messy miso in the morning, you can squeeze the meat out of the miso-marinade bag the night before,and keep it covered on a plate ready to just cook in a frying pan.

Pork in Japan

As I noted at the top of this article, pork is the most popular meat (not including poultry) in Japan, far more so than beef. In the town where my mother grew up, which is only about an hour from central Tokyo in Saitama prefecture, the local butcher didn’t sell beef until sometime in the 1980s, but he always had pork. (Lamb, goat and so on are barely known in Japan except as imports.) Pork even has a reputation for being quite healthy, since it contains the B-family of vitamins as well as plenty of collagen (which is supposed to keep your skin looking young.) The further south you go, the more popular pork is. Okinawan cuisine features pork very prominently.

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Re: Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)

Wow, the first thing that came to mind is: FIRE UP THE BBQ !!! :)
As suggested by Maki, chicken, and especially wings should produce some tasty tidbits.


Re: Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)

Even though the sun has barely risen, this is making me hungry! Lovely photo of the pork :-)

Re: Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)

> * 3 Tbs. cup red miso (if you don't have 2 kinds of miso, use whatever you have)

Please forgive me, I was confused by this line in the recipe... does it mean 3 tablespoons PLUS one cup, or just 3 tablespoons of something called "cup red miso" or is it just a typo... Please advise, because that pork looks scrumptious! (and I just bought miso for the first time!)
Thanks :)

Re: Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)

Mm, this looks much better than my quick-and-easy recipe for miso pork. I just fire up the broiler (a grill could work too, I suppose, though I've never tried it this way), then do a dry rub on some pork chops with pre-packaged, dried red miso soup mix. I strain out the seaweed and tofu bits, since I've found they can burn and impart a bitter flavor. Four to five minutes each side, and there is yummy tasty miso pork.

Re: Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)

I just made a very similar marinade for salmon steaks the other night, and it was delicious! My boyfriend wanted a second one. :)

Re: Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)

Pork and duck are my favorite meats! Can't wait to try this.

Re: Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)

Sorry to bother, but as someone mentioned above, I am also confused by the "3 Tbs. cup red miso" line; could you specify? I'd love to make this - it looks tasty... ;)

Re: Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)

Sorry, it's 3 Tbs. not 3 cups. I took out the rogue 'cups'.

Re: Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)

Just licked the plate clean! This was soooo unbelievably good! Thank you so much for the recipe. I can't wait to try other recipes that you have posted.

Re: Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)

Thank you for such a delicious and easy recipe. My husband loves pork but I tend to like it only when there is a heavy sauce or chutney that its cooked in. Despite the fact that this is only marinated not cooked in a sauce I thought it was delicious and so did he.

Re: Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)

I've come across your site when I was looking for a miso marinated pork recipe (it's marinating for tonight!).
I browsed the pages and now I'm hooked! I just feel a bit sad that I've discovered this beautifully scrumptious site so late! I've spent some years making myself bento for my lunch at the university (in Italy) and one whole year in a forced wheat-free diet. It would be a much pleasant, healthy, satisfying, and tasty journey if I had known justbento before!
Thank you very much for sharing such delicious recipes. I'm loving every little bit of it!

Re: Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)

Would you be able to use mirin instead of the sake and sugar? It looks like a great, easy recipe.

Re: Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)

Zommykinz wrote:

Would you be able to use mirin instead of the sake and sugar? It looks like a great, easy recipe.

Yes I was wondering the same thing. I'm not too much of a drinker so I don't have alcohol around the house but I do have a healthy supply of mirin~

Re: Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)

You can use mirin instead, though of course with every substitution you are straying further away from the original recipe.

Re: Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)

The recepi is really easy and yummy. Just wonder any skill required to cook the meat in such perfect color as your photos showed?

Re: Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)

As long as you are careful to not let it burn, the marinade really gives it that color - so not much skill is required.

Re: Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)

this is absolutely lovely! The pork was delicious and tender, and i used the rest of the marinade and some vegetables to make it into a stir-fry. so easy, too! ^-^

Re: Miso Marinated Pork (butaniku no misozuke)


I've just finish making this marinade and it smells really wonderful!
But what can I do with the left over marinade? It's such a waste to throw away something smelling so delicious.

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