Stamina Pork Bowl (すた丼 – Sutadon)
Sutadon, or Stamina Donburi, is a style of pork bowl developed by a ramen shop in Kunitachi, Tokyo, in the 1970s. The late Chef Hashimoto, who owned Sapporo Ramen, is quoted as saying he wanted to create a “cheap and delicious bowl that young people could eat until they felt satisfied.”
In Japan, both pork and garlic are considered stamina-boosting foods due to their high concentration of B vitamins. So chef Hashimoto experimented with different combinations of these ingredients to develop this legendary variation on butadon.
While I can’t vouch for its ability to reduce fatigue, I can tell you that the garlicky aroma of this hearty rice bowl will wake up your appetite and power you through the rest of your day.
Table of contents
Why This Recipe Works?
- Boiling the sliced pork belly before glazing it with the sauce removes impurities like blood in the meat, which gets rid of some of the gamey flavors of the pork. It also renders out some of the excess fat while making the meat more tender.
- Glazing the parboiled pork in the sauce rather than stir-frying keeps the pork moist and tender.
- Using hot spring eggs as a substitute for raw eggs still adds the creamy richness of the yolks while reducing the risks of foodborne illnesses.
Ingredients for Sutadon Pork Bowl
- Pork belly – Pork belly is a cheap fatty cut of pork, but when it’s sliced thinly and cooked well, it’s super tender and moist without being greasy. I usually use pork sliced for Shabu Shabu hot pot, and the slices are about 1mm thick. You should be able to find pork belly for hot pot at Asian supermarkets, but if you don’t have one near you, you can partially freeze a block of pork belly and then use a very sharp knife to shave off thin slices of pork.
- Garlic – Garlic is thought to reduce fatigue and increase energy, so it’s prominently featured in the sauce for Sutadon. I’ve added a moderate amount, but you can add more or less, depending on how garlicky you like it.
- Ginger – Ginger helps cover up some of the gamey notes of pork, so I like to add a little bit, but this is not Shogayaki, so you don’t want to add a ton.
- Dashi – Japanese dashi stock makes for an umami-rich base to build the sauce. You could also use a different type of stock like chicken broth or pork broth.
- Soy Sauce – This is the primary seasoning for Stamina Donburi. Use a Japanese-style dark soy sauce (not the same as Chinese dark soy sauce).
- Sake – Sake is added to Japanese food because it naturally contains a high concentration of amino acids, which create the taste of umami. The alcohol content will evaporate during cooking, but you can substitute MSG if you can’t find it.
- Sugar – A small amount of sugar helps balance out the savory tastes in the sauce without making it taste obviously sweet.
- Scallions – Aside from the kick of garlic, the allium of choice for Sutadon is scallions. Typically, the stems are thinly sliced and cooked with the pork belly, while the greens are chopped and used as a garnish. I used regular scallions for cooking with the sliced pork and chopped up some thin scallions for the topping.
- Hot Spring Eggs – The original Sutadon is served with a raw egg that you crack when you eat it, but they also sell a version with onsen tamago or hot spring egg on top. This is an egg that has been slow-cooked at a temperature of about 145°F (63°C), giving it the texture of silky smooth custard.
- Pickles – At Sutadonya, the garlic pork bowl is served with two slices of takuan pickles, but any crunchy pickle with a slightly sweet taste, like my cucumber tsukemono makes a nice contrast for this donburi.
- Chili Paste – If you want to make your butadon spicy, you can serve it with your favorite chili paste. Sutadonya serves theirs with a chili sauce that’s kind of like doubanjiang or sambal oelek, but it’s also good with other types of hot sauce, such as sriracha.
How to Make Sutadon Pork Bowl
To make the secret sauce for Sutadon, grate the garlic and ginger into a bowl. I used a daikon grater for this, but a Microplane or the rasp side of a box grater will work. Next, add the dashi, soy sauce, sake, and sugar to the bowl and stir the ingredients together to combine.
To prepare the pork belly, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat and then parboil the meat in two batches. Once you add the pork, give it a stir to separate each slice. Once the water comes back to a boil and the pork is cooked through, transfer it to a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking.
Repeat with the remaining pork and then drain the meat in a colander. Press on the meat with your hand to squeeze out any excess water.
Pour the sauce ingredients into a frying pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook the sliced scallions with the sauce until they’re vibrant green.
Add the parboiled pork to the sauce and glaze the slices with sauce until almost no liquid remains in the pan.
To assemble the Sutadon, slice the cooked rice between two serving bowls and top with the garlicky pork belly. Top the Stamina Butadon with a hot spring egg and garnish with some chopped scallions, pickles, and chili paste to taste.
Other Donburi Recipes
- Oyakodon (Chicken & Egg)
- Katsudon (Chicken Cutlet)
- Gyudon (Beef Bowl)
- Roast Wagyu Don
- Tokachi Butadon (Tokachi-style Pork Bowl)
The name “Sutadon” is an abbreviation of Stamina Buta Donburi, and it’s a style of pork bowl that was popularized by a chain of quick-service restaurants called Densetsu no Sutadonya (伝説のすた丼屋) or the “Legendary Sutadon Shop.” Their trademark dish is a rice bowl topped with thinly sliced pork belly that’s loaded with garlic flavor. It’s then topped with a raw egg and served with pickles and chili sauce.
Sutadon is a 3-syllable name pronounced as follows (read the italicized parts).
su like soup
ta like tonic
don like don‘t
It won’t be quite the same as the original, but the sauce is loaded with flavor and would work well for other cuts of pork or even other proteins such as chicken, beef, shrimp, or even tofu. One thing I would advise changing is the parboiling step for the meat. This is only necessary with a fattier cut of meat like pork belly. For other types of meat, I would recommend pan-frying it first and then finishing it off with the sauce.
- 20 grams garlic (3 large cloves)
- 4 grams ginger (peeled)
- ¼ cup dashi
- 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sake
- 1 teaspoon evaporated cane sugar
- Grate the garlic and ginger into a bowl, adding the dashi, soy sauce, sake, and sugar. Stir the sauce together.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add half of the pork. Stir it to loosen the slices and cook until the water returns to a boil. Transfer the cooked pork to a bowl of cold water and repeat with the remaining pork.
- Drain the pork in a colander and give it a gentle squeeze to remove any excess water.
- Add the sauce to a frying pan and bring it to a boil. Add the scallions to the sauce and cook until they are limp.
- Add the pork to the pan with the sauce. Continue cooking while stirring until almost no liquid is left in the pan.
- Assemble the Sutadon by splitting the rice between two bowls and topping with the pork belly. Gently break a hot spring egg into the center of each bowl and then garnish with scallion greens, pickles, and chili paste.