Slow-Cooker Pork Belly Ramen

Urban Belly would be jealous

OK. By now you may have noticed that this blog has taken a turn into decidedly comfort food territory. I could give a number of reasons for this change of course but one rises above all others. Baby, it’s cold outside!!! Even worse, we’ve just endured a 9 day period where it snowed each and every one of those day! Is there any wonder why there’s Pork Belly Ramen slowly simmering in my slow cooker as this post is being written?

I was first served this wonderful ramen on my way home after a visit to the Garfield Park Conservatory late last winter. I stopped at a restaurant, Urban Belly, and ordered the Pork Belly Ramen based upon recommendations of previous diners. Bless them!

Once home, I immediately googled “pork belly ramen” and started comparing recipes. Off the top, I wanted to use my slow-cooker, rejecting the recipes that didn’t. Hopefully, slow-cooking  would not only result in tender pork but the broth should benefit, as well. With luck, the finished dish would include a soft-boiled egg. No matter. That egg was such a nice addition to the Urban Belly ramen that I was going to add it to whatever recipe I eventually chose.  Within minutes, I found the recipe that’s shared here. Of course, being the conscientious blogger that I am, I would never post a recipe without rigorous testing. So, I prepared the recipe again and again… and again … and again … and, well, you get the idea. Needless to say, the recipe not only passed the tests but has become a regular guest at my winter-time dinner table. I buy the pork belly, divvy it up into 1 pound pieces, use one for that night’s dinner, and freeze the rest. In fact, right now I’ve 2 pieces of pork belly resting comfortably in the freezer. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Aside from adding a couple garnishes, the only change I made to the recipe is in the handling of the pork belly.The recipe indicated that the belly should be cooked with the skin attached, to be removed just prior to slicing. The meat isn’t seared. When I tried it that way, I had a devil of a time removing the skin without (badly) butchering the belly. I even tried slicing the belly first before removing the skin. And the fat? Without any type of sear, it was a bit of a disappointment. For me, one of the most appealing things about well-cooked pork belly is the crispy fat. Believe me, it’s well worth the time (5 minutes) time and effort (minimal) to place that belly into a hot frypan and sear its fat side. Just be sure the pan is hot. You want to sear the fat quickly without further cooking the meat. Once sliced, place the slices on top of the ramen, keeping the seared side above the broth to maintain its crispness.

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Note: Because this recipe endured such thorough testing, the link was never saved (to be later lost) but printed instead to allow easy access. So, unlike recent posts, it gives me great pleasure to give credit where due. This recipe can be found on the Australian Good Food website.

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This just about says it all

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Pork Belly Ramen Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb  (approx 500 g) boneless, skinless pork belly (see Notes)
  • 1 quart (1 liter) chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 2 tbsp sake  (don’t forget to toast the chef)
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 garlic gloves, chopped
  • 3½ oz (100 g) white (Shiro) miso paste
  • 1½ inches (4 cm) grated fresh ginger
  • 1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • i piece kombu (see Notes)
  • 1 lb  (approx 500 g) cooked ramen noodles (see Notes)
  • One 3 to 5 minute egg per serving, peeled & sliced in half
  • for garnish (optional)
    • sliced scallions, nori sheet, cilantro leaves, sesame seeds, a splash of ponzu, a sprinkle of sesame oil (see Notes)

Directions

  1. Add the chicken stock, tamari, sake, mirin, sugar, and miso to the slow-cooler and stir thoroughly.
  2. To the pot, add the leek, ginger, garlic, and carrot. Stir.
  3. Place the kombu into the pot before adding the pork belly.
  4. Cover and set the cooker to “LOW” and the timer to 7 hours.
  5. When finished, remove the pork belly. (If using a belly with skin, remove the skin before proceeding.)  Place fat-side down on to a hot frypan over med-high heat. The object here is to crisp the fat without burning or over-cooking the meat. Reserve, slice, and keep warm. (see Notes)
  6. Cook the noodles per package directions.
  7. Meanwhile, pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer. Return to the slow cooker and keep warm.
  8. To serve:
    • Divide the cooked noodles evenly among the serving bowls.
    • Add equal amounts of the strained broth to each bowl.
    • Slice the egg, if using, and add to each bowl.
    • Place the sliced pork belly into each bowl. To maintain its crispness, try to keep the seared edge above the broth.
    • The remaining garnish may be added now or brought to the table to be added by your dinner mates.
  9. Serve immediately.

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Not quite crispy enough.

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Notes

Don’t be overly concerned when chopping the vegetables. Once the pork is cooked, the broth will be strained and the vegetables discarded.

I’ve a smaller-sized slow cooker and, therefore, use a small piece of pork belly. This recipe results in 4 bowls of ramen, each with 2 slices of pork belly.

Kombu is dried kelp and can be found in the Japanese section of many Asian markets. It is purchased in sheets and should be lightly wiped with a damp cloth before use. Store in an airtight container.

Similarly, nori — used here as a garnish — is dried seaweed also purchased in sheets. It’s very often used to wrap sushi rolls, maki. You, or your guests, may wish to place a small sheet into each bowl to add some texture and crunch to your ramen.

Although “ramen” noodles can be purchased at many groceries, feel free to use whatever noodle — rice, bean, egg — you prefer. Just keep an eye on the clock to insure that they are ready when you’re filling the bowls. Badly cooked noodles will spoil any dish, no matter the country of origin.

You needn’t sear the pork belly, if that’s your preference. Whether you do, be sure to slice the meat so that it can be evenly divided among the serving bowls. Remember: always slice the meat against the grain.

You may have noticed the small bowl to the right of the ramen in the opening photo. It contains sriracha and hoisin sauces. I got the idea of combining both by observing patrons at a number of pho restaurants. Additionally, one of this area’s food critics — more about him in a future pho post —  mentioned that some chefs are insulted when a patron adds sauce(s) to their pho. Placing the sauces in a small bowl allows one to dip the cooked meat(s) into the sauces, leaving the pho/ramen just as the chef intended, thereby averting an International incident.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

Stormy Lentils 3

Here we stand, feet firmly planted in comfort food country, and here we shall stay. Today’s look back was — and still is — a great recipe for these wintry days. Easy to prepare and oh, so very hearty, you won’t care what’s happening outside your door with a bowl of this lentil soup before you. The recipe for this lentil dish can be found HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Marinella’s Meatballs

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59 thoughts on “Slow-Cooker Pork Belly Ramen

  1. Was going to be courteous and not be so eager to comment . . . but may I be the first of us Down Under’ers (my English teachers would crucify me!) to thank you for ‘coming our way’ quite thus far!! John: you took a long blog-break after your beloved Mom and zia Lea went over to the other side . . .you obviously learned a lot from the real meaning of making and sharing food, ’cause you have come back absolutely wonderful to read and make and put into a permanent file – I thank you! Oh, I love pork ramen . . . but methinks you knew that . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Eha. I may not have been around WP but I did continue to cook. As you know, i’ve been out tasting pho of all kinds — an loving every slurp! It’s unfortunate that I’m not nearly as organized as I thought I was. I had thought that these recipes were written and ready to go. Guess again. The short of it is that I’ve got to recreate some of the dishes. I know. Such a burden! Nonetheless, there’s mre in the “pipeline.” 🙂

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      • I love meatballs and ‘Marinella’s’ sounds like a recipe from way’back’home . . . so do hope you are not ‘going fishing’ in the near future again . . . oh, yes, could you share pho(s), please !

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    • Thank you, Sandra. It’s good to be back. And you’re right about these soups being great year-round. I prepared pho and frequented the restaurants all last summer. That’s what air conditioning was made for. 🙂

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  2. John, this looks very good. It is cold here, too, but thankfully no snow as just a couple of inches shuts down everything here.
    You can guess what my preferred way of cooking the pork belly will be 🙂
    I can tell this is an Australian recipe, as they tend to mix and match different Asian recipes and ingredients.
    May I suggest you try this with pork stock rather than chicken stock? If you have space in your slow cooker, you could just use water and add a pork trotter. It will take the comfort to the next level.
    Really like your pork belly instructions — remove the skin and crisp up the fat, then making sure it stays crisp.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, Stefan!!!! Your recent holiday photos were wonderful!
      Funny you mention trotters with this ramen. One of the groceries I frequent has trotters that they’ve sliced, much like one would veal shanks. The result is a much meatier and leaner product. When I bought them for some split pea soup last week, I thought of using them here, too. I agree with you. I bet the resulting soup will be that much more flavorful. I will use them the next time I prepare this dish and will let you know. Thanks for the push in that direction. 🙂

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    • Stefan dearHeart – thought I better not make a second comment re you re this recipe on your blog page 🙂 ! I DO agree with you but not in this case: agreed, sriracha and coriander do NOT belong in every Asian recipe . . . but they are not amongst the ingredients here 🙂 !! Actually this is rather a purist version of Japanese pork belly ramen . ., . absolutely the single inclusion about which I would shrug my shoulders would be carrot , , ,

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  3. The one thing I simply adore about Asian broths is their depth of flavour, and your Ramen certainly shines! The perfectly balanced sweet, sour, salt and spice make these types of dishes the king of comfort foods! The variety of textures doesn’t hurt either. Pork belly might be a little too rich for my aging belly but I’m definitely going to give this a go with a slightly less fatty cut (I know I’d be missing out more on the crispy fat, but believe me, it’ll be the better than keeping antacid companies in business!
    It’s been a wild winter here too, we’re on day 4 of rain, solid rain, all day. The only redeeming factor is that it’s warmed up and it’s taken nearly all of our snow. But it’s still February and it’s still Toronto so it likely ain’t over ‘till the fat lady sings, and she hasn’t even warmed up yet! Arizona is looking better and better with each rain drop or snow flake!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I so agree with you, Eva. One of my pho cookbooks offers some quick pho recipes. Relying upon store-bought broths and the like, they deliver a decent bowl of pho in a very short period of time. I’ve made them for my lunch on a cold day. If, on the other hand, I have the time to prepare the “real deal”, the pho is so much better and that depth of flavor is there.

      I’m not one to look to precipitation for advice but it does seem like yours is trying to tell you something. Hmmm … 🙂

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  4. That sounds delicious – you’ll have Japanese gangsters beating a path to your door. I do like the idea of sriracha on the side to give the pork a little kick.
    No doubt those meatballs are going to be good – I can’t wait!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re so right, John. This dish is meant for our roller coaster weather. It’s warm and comforting but not as heavy as, say, chili.

      Yesterday, we hit 60˚. Right now, it’s 27˚. This, too, shall pass …

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    • I have to admit that the first time I prepared this, I was so disappointed that the belly wasn’t at all crisp. It was easy enough to fix and I’ve been enjoying ramen ever since!
      Had I known yours was missing, I would gladly have sent you our winter. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. John, no experience with pork belly but as much as I love pork there is no reason not to dive in and give it a go. I would probably go with egg noodles – love them. Also, am sure I’ll love those meatballs scheduled to “roll out” next!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, are you in for a treat! Whether you prepare this ramen, another recipe, or order it at a restaurant, pork belly is a great dish, Bruce. It’s not something you’re going to enjoy every day — which makes it all the more special. You’ll see …

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love ramen, and I love pork belly, and I love the part of the pork belly that’s crispy and seared, so this is definitely for me. Thanks for the tip about the sriracha and hoisin! We’re definitely having soup weather, aren’t we?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Like you I’m a prok belly fan but have yet to try it in the oven. I really should do so but I fear it’s too late for that now. Spring is coming and with it my avoidance of turning on the oven for any long braises. I may revisit this late next fall, though, when my kitchen would definitely benefit from another heat source.

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  7. Buona Sera John. or maybe I should say mata oai dekite ureshii desu (please to see you again) lol whether your cooking Italian, Asian or anything in between you cook with love and it shows. A delicious broth is just what you need with this horrendous winter but this week is a heat wave (maybe 4-10 degrees C- woohoo) . Mother nature is so confused. Stay warm and stay well. Take care

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re such a good person, Bobbi, always with a kind and encouraging word. Thank you.
      I’ve remain in soup country and will be posting another bowl in a few hours. They’re all just so good!

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  8. I would think you’re starting to dream of your Farmer’s Market, John? I hope that winter’s harsh nature won’t be staying around too many more weeks. I am not sure that I’d do too well! I have a little favorite ramen place that is actually vegan…sounds funny when compared to this hearty dish, but it is a wonderful treat when I make the pilgrimage! I love ramen! This does sound like a dish I’d make for my son-in-law’s comfort, and with a medical procedure looming he’ll be needing a little comfort. This is perfect. Sending a very warm greeting, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s like you’re reading my ind, Debra. Many a Saturday morning I daydream about the farmers market and I hate that they won’t reopen until the first weekend in May. Seems like May will never get here …
      Sorry to learn of your Son-in-Law’s plight and hope all is well. If, like us, he’s a ramen lover, this dish is sure to bring a smile to his face. If he’s a carnivore, well, he’s gonna be thrilled. Good luck to him.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, John. My SIL will have a procedure at the end of the month to get his heart rhythm more regular. He goes into A-fib a couple of times a year and at Christmas it took way too long to return to normal. ‘t’s not uncommon, but in a 45 year old man with a family I think it always makes everyone a little uncomfortable. My role is to come in with the comfort food for everyone. 🙂 I do plan to make the ramen for sure. It absolutely fits his tastes perfectly, and I haven’t had a recipe that previously jumped out. This one does! I heard someone laughingly say yesterday in response to a daylight saving time–SUMMER! I laughed, but I knew what he meant. A return to your farmer’s market days won’t be long now. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Elaine. Summery weather is still months away, unfortunately. I’d be more than satisfied with a few spring-like days. Our winters just seem to drag on and on. This is a great way to prepare pork belly, Elaine, but Max will never know. I’ve a hard enough time sharing pork belly with my dinner mates. Max will just have to be satisfied with the odd bits of beef, pork, and chicken. He won’t miss what he hasn’t tasted – I hope. 🙂

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    • I, to, am a recent convert to ramen, David. When my college friends were all singing the praises of ramen, I was busy enjoying pasta in bianco and cacio e pepe. They and their tastes have moved on but I, on the other hand, still love my pasta. 🙂

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    • And the best thing about slow cooked recipes is that they can be enjoyed year-round, for there’s no chance of heating the house using the oven. I hope you do give this ramen a try, Tanya. It’s really that good!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. John, I LOVE that close-up photo of the pork and noodles. Beautiful.

    My husband and I love ramen, but I’ve only attempted it a couple of times. I had given up & thought of leaving it to the experts…until I came across your post. You’ve given me hope!

    P.S. I hope the weather has improved where you are…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Ruth. “Even the blind squirrel finds a nut every now and again …” 🙂

      This is pretty easy to prepare, Ruth. Later tonight I’ll be posting a recipe for pho which is easier still. Down the road, I plan to post a pork belly pho, too. I think your husband is going to be very pleased. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right, Dale. Although I live in the midst of a number of pho/ramen serving restaurants, I am much more likely to prepare them at home now. It’s all about that sense of accomplishment that’s missing when dining out.

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  10. With that kind of winter, I’d be thinking comfort food as well. I’ve never made pork belly, but this dish sure makes it tempting. I love ramen noodle bowls and have never seen one with pork belly. Great job, John!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m with you, MJ. Until I found Urban Belly, I didn’t know that pork belly ramen existed. Well, what an eye opener! I really do enjoy everything about this dish, from the shopping for the ingredients right up until the last slurp. 🙂

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  11. Now this really is comfort food. And boy do I need comfort these days… I only recent tried ramen made with rich pork broth and all I can say is, why did I wait so long? The depth of flavor was incredible. And just looking at that bowl, I know yours does, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can so agree with your first pork belly ramen experience, Frank. It was a real light bulb moment and it was no exaggeration that I googled the recipe immediately upon returning home. What luck to have found such a great version! I hope you give it a try and let me know your thoughts. We pork bely ramen lovers have to stick together. 🙂

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