Japan Eats

Recipe: Piman no butabaramaki (peppers wrapped in pork)

A simple hors d’oeuvre that’s bound to disappear quickly.

Cocktail parties are a rarity in Japan. When entertaining family or friends, most Japanese elect to host the event at a local izakaya rather than in their own houses or apartments – there simply isn’t enough space at home. When Japanese do have people over, the numbers are usually small and the meal something relatively simple and easy to share – nabe (hotpot) or gyoza (Chinese dumplings) are particularly popular.

Red and green peppers wrapped in pork

Red and green peppers wrapped in pork

If you have the space for a larger number of guests, however, this dish of red and green peppers wrapped in pork makes for the perfect finger food. The citrus of the ponzu cuts through any oiliness in the pork, and the still-crispy vegetables add a crunchy texture to each mouthful.

They also make an excellent side dish and can be combined with other otsumami to make a delicious izakaya-style meal. Better, they don’t have to be served right away – the pepper and pork rolls can be served either hot or after they have cooled down.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 50 g of green pepper
  • 50 g of red pepper
  • 100 g of thinly sliced pork belly
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of ponzu
  • 1 tablespoon of yuzukosho


First, cut off the top and bottom of the green and red peppers. Next, cut into halves and remove the seeds. Slice them into strips 5 mm thick.

Put them into a bowl of cold water and rinse them for 2-3 minutes and drain (when you prepare salads or other vegetable dishes, you should put the vegetables – especially leaf vegetables – into a bowl of cold water to enliven them).

Remove the water with a paper towel, then divide into 6 portions. The green peppers and the red peppers should be mixed almost half and half.

Place a thinly sliced pork belly on a cutting board, then sprinkle a pinch of salt. Place one portion of the peppers in the center and roll them. Repeat another 5 times.

Pour the vegetable oil into a frying pan and warm it on a low heat. Once the pan has heated up, lay down the pork rolls so that the ‘seam’ (where the end of the pork meets the rest of the roll) is face down – think of the nori around sushi rolls. As the side of the roll cooks, it will bind itself to the rest of the pork.

Turn the heat up to medium and sauté that side for 2-3 minutes till it becomes brown and perfectly bonded, then sauté the rest of the roll so it is cooked evenly.

Place the rolls on to a dish with a pinch of yuzukosho on a top of each. Pour 2 tablespoons of ponzu gently from side over the finished dish and serve.

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