Hai Sai! Welcome to my Blog.

Hello, my name is Tom Corrao and I am the blogger behind the Okinawaology Blog. I created this blog to share and discuss all things Okinawan. I’m also the Public Relations Officer and Minkan Taishi to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. My experience with Okinawa is derived from the time I spent there during the 1980's and 90's (10 years) when serving in the United States Air Force. I've also been married to an Okinawan woman for 30 years now and have been immersed in many things Okinawan through both friends and family. I do not claim to be all knowing about everything Okinawan but I try hard and study the history and culture. I welcome everyone that is interested in Okinawa and hope that I can provide useful information to those uchinanchu that may be curious about their culture and heritage. I also welcome those who are not of Okinawan heritage but have experienced, or are experiencing, the islands culture while stationed there with the United States Military. Comments are welcomed and will be published as long as they are in good taste and on track with the purpose of this blog. My hope with this blog is to bring Uchinanchu people around the world a little closer to their cultural roots by expressing information that has started to fade in light of a more modern world. We should never forget our culture or the people who came before us and through the Blog my intentions are to meld the old with the new and implant knowledge that will help maintain the traditions and culture of an island people.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rafute (Okinawan Glazed Pork)

As many of you are aware I have been on a diet this year and have been having great sucess so far following the Okinawa Diet food pyramid. The food pyramid concept is a visual tool for helping us see clearly the food choices that we should be making. The Okinawa Diet™ food pyramid is based on 25 years of research and reflects the eating habits and patterns of the longest lived healthiest group of people in the world, Okinawans. 

The Okinawa diet food pyramid does not exclude one from being able to eat foods that may not necessarily be health conscious foods. One example is a traditional Okinawan food that I love called Rafute. This is a food that my mother in law introduced me to while I was living in Okinawa. My wife believes it is labor intensive to make so as a result I rarely get it. Rafute is a food that the Pyramid only allows you to eat in moderation. It is made with the fatty portion of a pig called Pork Belly which is included in the weekly section at the top of the food pyramid along with meat, poultry, eggs and sweets. Of these foods you can only intake 0-7 servings per week if you are following the diet. Of course these are indulgence foods and should always be taken in moderation. Well my diet has been successful so far and combined with exercise I have now lost a total of 27 pounds since January. I decided to let myself indulge this past week and I made Rafute for myself. Being an American cook I thought about the way Okinawans make Rafute by boiling the meat and simmering it for many hours to remove much of the fat. This process takes a long time so I thought maybe I could simplify the process so I decided to use a crock pot and modify the process a bit. Here is my recipe for Simplified Rafute.

3 lbs of quality pork belly w/rib-bones if you can find the cut
1 cup Awamori (Okinawan Style Sake)
1 cup Soy Sauce
3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
1/2 Cup Splenda Brand Brown Sugar Blend (to replace Okinawan Raw Brown Sugar)
1/2 cup Mirin

To begin you have to do it like the Okinawans of old. So, place the whole pork belly skin side up on the rack of a broiler pan. Broil it until the skin is browned then rinse the pork under warm running water scrapping off any charred spots with a knife. Once it is cleaned place it into a large boiler pot and bring the pot to a boil. Once the pot has reached a rolling boil reduce the heat down to a simmer and leave the pork on simmer for 40 minutes. This will boil up much of the fat that can be skimmed off with a spoon as the process progresses. After the simmer is complete remove the pork and place it skin side up on a large cutting surface. Allow the meat to cool to a point that it can be handled without burning your fingers.

Next prepare your crock pot for the meat by placing the ingredients above into the crock pot. I use 1 cup Awamori (Okinawan Style Sake) but if you don't have it you could use your favorite brand of Japanese Sake. Also notice that this is the dietetic version of the recipe because we are using Splenda blended brown sugar. I didn't have Okinawan brown cane sugar so it made a good substitute. Once the ingredients have been added turn your crock pot on high for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes stir the ingredients to blend them throughly before adding the portion sized chunks of pork to the marinade.

Cut the pork into serving size chunks and place them skin side up in your crock pot marinade. Now comes the hard part put the cover on the pot, place it on low, and wait for four hours. That's all there is to it and your Rafute should be fall off the bone tender. Here is a picture of my Rafute to see what it should look like.

If you try this recipe please let me know what you think. I was only kidding when I said it was the dietetic version but the flavor is worth the occassional indulgence. Bon App├ętit!


  1. While it's true that that diet helped the Okinawans live a long life, there are far more factors that go into it. Constant movement, one's network of family and friends as well as spiritual belief (which is mainly ancestral worship and folk beliefs, not organized religion) contribute to long and healthy lives as well!

  2. Lack of Stress in ones life can make anyone live longer. I noticed when I lived there that it didn't matter howold someone was they were always participating in some sort of activity. Just moving around has a lot to do with it too. You can't be a couch potato and expect your body not to atrophy in some way. Thanks for your comments Anonymous. Don't be afraid to leave your name next time.

  3. Sanpin cha is the great ancient secret!
    And also sanshin uta. hehehhehehe