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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Pork Belly Ramen Recipe
- 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)
- Add the chicken stock, tamari, sake, mirin, sugar, and miso to the slow-cooler and stir thoroughly.
- To the pot, add the leek, ginger, garlic, and carrot. Stir.
- Place the kombu into the pot before adding the pork belly.
- Cover and set the cooker to “LOW” and the timer to 7 hours.
- 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)
- Cook the noodles per package directions.
- Meanwhile, pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer. Return to the slow cooker and keep warm.
- 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.
- Serve immediately.
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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 …
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 …
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