Imagine sipping a spoonful of homemade chicken noodle soup. Now amp the broth with major umami swimming with runny egg yolk and pork cooked slow and long, fat and meat layers perfectly melded together. This is ultimate comfort food but exciting enough to tantalize the taste buds. Oh, Ramen how far you’ve come from the instant flavor packets of my childhood. Making real Ramen takes time, but each slurp-y spoonful is worth it.
Both Bon Appetit and Food and Wine did specials in their September magazine on made from scratch Ramen. While I’m sure (fully executed) each recipe yields amazing results, I found elements appealing and at the same time over whelming. My requirements: the meal needed to come together in 2 days and it needed to minimize active time well below the 3+ hours in the F&W recipe.
I’m fortunate to live within close proximity to Chinatown, which is where all my ingredients came from. My market is decidedly Chinese, not Japanese, but I was able to find everything I needed.
One day ahead make the broth. This is the most important element and while I use canned chicken broth 99% of the time, here it really pays off to make your own. I bought two chickens and had the butcher remove the breasts from the bone and the thighs and legs. The breast were cooked and added to salads while the legs and thighs were marinated and grilled for dinner later that week. I threw the backbone, wings, and other bongs along with with wing tips I had frozen into the broth. Feel free to use whatever works best for you.
While the chicken broth is cooking, begin roasting the pork belly. I seared mine but left that out of the recipe as it’s not necessary on a piece of meat this fatty. I found (through trial and error) that the directions in F&W would overcook the pork belly so I referenced Serious Eats instead. Both get moved into the fridge overnight and the meal is finished the next day. Total active time is under an hour thanks to fresh ramen noodles picked up at the asian grocery store. The broth is the star so dried noodles could be substituted in a pinch.
For the pork belly:
- 1 2 lb piece of pork belly, with equal parts fat and meat
- 1 TBSP canola oil
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth (this can come from a can)
For the dashi (broth):
- 1 carrot
- 1 bunch of scallions
- 1 lb chicken pieces
- 1 1″ piece of ginger
- 1/2 head of garlic
- 2 TBSP instant dashi
- 1 piece of dried kombu (mine was marked dried kelp, this is just a long dried piece of seaweed)
For the tare (soy sauce mixture):
- 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup mirin
- 1/2 cup dry sake
Ramen and Toppings:
- 2 12 oz packages fresh ramen noodles
- Soft boiled eggs. I followed directions at The Kitchn
- Sliced scallions
- Chili oil (optional)
- Rub the pork belly with canola oil, salt and pepper. Place fatty side up in a casserole pan in the oven at 350 deg F and add chicken broth to pan. After an hour, I turned by oven down to 285 and cooked another 2 hours. Cook until a butter knife slides easily through the meat. Let cool in pan and move to the fridge overnight in cooking liquid.
- Add all ingredients minus kombu for the stock to a large pot. Cover to the top with water, for me about 3 quarts, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 3 hours. Strain broth and add kombu. Refrigerate overnight and remove kombu after 12-24 hours.
- The next day, remove the pork belly from the fridge, spoon off separated fat and slice pork. Add any liquid (there will be very little left) to the broth. Reserve the rendered fat.
- Bring the broth back to a boil. Salt broth to taste (I found that with all the flavors, the broth needed very little additional broth. Also keep in mind you will top the ramen with a soy sauce mixture).
- Mix all the ingredients for the tare in a separate bowl.
- Place sliced pork on baking sheet and place under broiler for 7 minutes on high. This will reheat the pork and give it a nice charred crispiness in spots.
- Add noodles to the pot and cook for designated time.
- Put it all together: Spoon 1/6th of the noodles into the bowl. Take ~1 tsp rendered fat and toss with noodles (optional, but adds a level of richness to the noodles and broth). Top with a piece of pork belly and soft boiled egg. Spoon a ladle full of broth and 1-2 TBSPs of tare over noodles and pork. Add scallions and splash with chili oil for heat.