The prized Kurobuta pork comes from a heritage breed of black hogs called Berkshire pigs. They originated in England’s Berkshire County around two centuries ago.
These heirloom hogs were so prized that they were presented as gifts to Japanese emperors who dubbed them ‘Kurobuta’, meaning, ‘black pig’. It is therefore not a wonder that some call these hogs the emperor’s pigs.
As a pitmaster, I have prepped many types of meat but none compares to the texture and exquisite flavor of Kurobuta pork. It is the ultimate choice for discerning gourmets and chefs because of its rich complex flavor. Kurobuta pork is a special treat you will not forget. I’ll tell you all about it.
In this post, I will tell you what Kurobuta pork is, how it is raised, and what makes it so darn special. Let’s go:
What is Kurobuta Pork? Why is It So Special?
Kurobuta pork refers to meat derived from the Berkshire pig. Unlike the commodity pork we are used to, Kurobuta pork is naturally wonderfully marbled because of the superior genetics of Berkshire hogs. As with other types of meat, more fat usually means more flavor.
What makes this pork special is its heritage coupled with how it is raised.
The heritage of purebred Berkshire pork is absolutely essential to its taste and quality. This is because it has to come from a specific breed and it has to be raised in a specific way. Just like Wagyu cattle and Kobe beef. Anything different is not Kurobuta pork.
Kurobuta pork has to come from the Berkshire pig in particular. It also must have received high standards of care and a specific diet. To that effect, even farms in Japan have to be granted permission to raise the Berkshire hogs for Kurobuta pork. They have to provide just the right level of care and feed to the animals. This maintains the high quality of genuine Berkshire hog meat.
How Are Berkshire Pigs Raised?
The Berkshire pig leads a great life. A soft life. It gets to forage and roam. For the farms that do it right, Kurobuta is raised outdoors giving it more than a healthy dose of natural food free from antibiotics and hormones.
Berkshire pork is also raised in low-stress environments typically in small family farms. This eradicates problems like congestion, noise, competition for resources, outbreaks, and much more. When your pig is relaxed and happy, it shines through the flavor of the meat.
Naturally, pigs are omnivores and when left to forage, they feed on both plants (including roots, grains, and grasses), and animals like bugs. It may not seem like much but this diet, along with the unique genetics of this heritage breed make that black pig the worldwide coveted delicacy it is.
How Should I Cook Kurobuta Pork?
Berkshire pork is a versatile dish that you can whip up in different ways. Enjoy it grilled, roasted, fried, or even smoked. It can also be made into bacon, ham, sausage, or ground meat.
The key however is not to overcook it or else it will lose its moisture and flavor. Whenever I get the chance, I like to enjoy it in either of two ways:
- The first is to grill a pork chop with a simple combo of salt and pepper. Remember, it is already bursting with flavor so do not go crazy with the spices. If you must, maybe just some garlic or herbs. Serve it alongside mashed potatoes or steamed rice.
- The other is to marinate the pork chop in a spice mix containing soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and ginger. Let it sit in the marinade for about an hour and then grill it until cooked.
Note: Just as is the case with other types of pork look out for a safe minimum temperature of at least 145 degrees F.
How Does Kurobuta Pork Compare to Regular Pork?
Kurobuta pork is a luxury product that fetches a premium price. Its distinct features include its color, taste, and fat content.
Kurobuta pork has a signature darker red color compared to regular pork. Of course, this depends on the cut of pork you are looking at.
Some cuts of regular pork are darker than others but all things considered, Kurobuta pork is slightly darker. So much so, that it can be confused for beef.
Fat Content & Taste
Berkshire pork is rich in intramuscular fat. This means it gets really juicy and tender as it cooks. Additionally, Berkshire pork has a high pH level which makes it easy to cook evenly without it drying out and losing its flavor.
Kurobuta pork also has a slightly sweeter taste than conventional pork.
Which Cuts of Kurobuta Can I Find?
There are several cuts of the heritage breed available. The most popular ones include pork chops, baby back ribs, ham, pork shoulder, boneless ribeye, bacon, tenderloin, and much more.
Where Can I Buy Kurobuta Pork?
It is highly unlikely that you will find genuine Kurobuta pork at your local grocery store or butcher shop because this premium pork fetches a hefty sum. That said, several online meat retailers distribute genuine Kurobuta meat from reputable farms.
What is the Highest Quality Pork?
Kurobuta pork is the highest quality pork out there.
A close second is Iberico pork. The Iberico hogs are native to Spain and are renowned for their high-quality pork.
They are fed on an acorn-rich diet, have generous marbling, and make some of the most flavorful pork dishes in the world.
Kurobuta pork derived from purebred Berkshire hogs is nothing short of a delicacy that should be savored by all meat lovers.
Its distinct flavor and texture set it aside from other types of pork. Grill it, smoke it, fry it, or roast it to enjoy a badass meal that will leave you wanting more. Kurobuta pork is not just meat. It is a cut above the rest!