Updated: Feb 13, 2022
When starting this blog I jotted down some of the content I wanted to produce and recipes that I wanted to include. It was during that moment I realized, maybe I'm not as great a cook as I think I am. I decided that I wanted to use the activity of blogging to stretch my culinary skills and broaden my palate.
This 2-day Ramen, which turned into 3-day Ramen, certainly accomplished that. It was a great journey, but a delicious journey worth taking. I discovered new cooking techniques such as cartouche, made my first legit bone broth, made the most perfectly textured half-boiled egg, and found a soy sauce substitute in Japanese Tamari, all while creating this Chashu Ramen.
When developing a new recipe, I like to find a few different recipes that I mostly agree with and blend them based on my preferred tastes, cooking methods, available equipment, and the time I have allotted for the dish.
Health is Wealth
When I'm working on a recipe there are a few areas I typically focus on - 1. Can I make this gluten-free (or am I willing to cheat on my diet for this dish), 2. Can I eliminate excess sugar, oil, fats without losing flavor, and/or will eliminating the excesses highlight natural flavors. With that said, there were two areas in the dish that I modified for dietary purposes.
In this Ramen dish, I didn't actually have any ramen noodles (gasp). I used Lotus Foods Brown & Millet Rice Ramen Noodles.
Also, I didn't use soy sauce in the recipe. Yes, soy sauce does contain gluten. I discovered Tamari, which is a Japanese Soy Sauce. It's made by fermenting soybeans and is typically gluten-free. Since Ramen is a Japanese dish, I think this was also the most authentic move to make. I used San-J Gluten-Free Tamari.
Eliminating Excess Sugar
In making the Tara some recipes I came across used, in my opinion, an excess amount of sugar. I'm not a complete flavor terrorist, I did use some but avoid the excess amount. The reason I worked off of the MasterClass recipe was because of the proportions and ingredients they used. Making the Tare can be one of the most creative parts of this recipe, so feel free to make this your own, and explore what might work best for you.
Let's get into it!
Components of Chashu Ramen
Chashu (rolled and Braised pork belly)
I've found that with cooking the more time, energy, and effort put into a dish the better it will be in the end. That is certainly true of making your own bone broth and one of the reasons why this 2-day ramen turned into 3-day ramen. You can use various animal bones for this. I used pork neck bones, pig trotters, and chicken backs. The collagen from the pig trotters
adds smoothness and good mouthfeel to the broth.
2 to 5 Pounds Animal Bones
Olive Oil, some might say to use a neutral oil
Place the bones on a baking sheet(s). Drizzle olive oil over the bones, hit them with the Salt Bae action, spread the oil to ensure even coverage.
Pop into an oven at 450° Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, drop the temperate to 425° and continue for 35 minutes
Heat oil in a skillet, add your onions, and leeks till they have a nice char. The trick is to not fuss with the pan, let the aromatics have as much contact with the bottom of the skillet as possible, and let the heat do its job.
Place the browned bones, charred veg, along with the whole garlic cloves, and chunks of ginger into a large soup pot, cover with water
Bring to a simmer, and let it remain at a simmer for the next 8 to 12 hours.
As water evaporates, add more, you'll have to repeatedly do this
Throughout the simmering process, you'll also want to skim the bubbles off the top and discard
Remove from the heat after 8 to 12 hours, strain bones and aromatics out
Refrigerate till the day of service.
In this recipe, we use Japanese Tare sauce three ways. As a braising liquid for the pork belly, marinade for the jammy eggs, and use the reserved braising liquid as a base component of the Ramen bowl.
Cook's Note: Depending on how much pork you are braising you'll probably increase the amount of Tare that you make. When Braising the pork at least 2/3 of the Chashu should be covered, not fully covered though.
2/3 Cup Mirin
2/3 Cup Tamari
1 Tablespoon Miso
2 1/2 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
2 Green Onions (large sections)
1/3 Bone Broth
Place all ingredients into a saucepan
Stir in the Miso till it's incorporated into the liquid
Simmer for 25 minutes
Remove from heat and strain out aromatics
Set aside for the Chashu.
Reserve enough to marinate your Jammy Eggs
Chashu (Braised Pork Belly)
If you're looking for a wow-moment-component to a dish, this is it. It's going to be visually impressive and tasty as heck.
Uncut Pork Belly - that you'll be able to roll
The reserved Tare from earlier
Roll and tightly the tie pork belly together with butcher twine. Depending on the size of the pork belly, it might be a good idea to butterfly it, roll it, and then tie it together. As you can see I'm working with a smaller chunk of pork belly, I butterflied it the long way and rolled it.
Sear the pork belly on all sides
Once seared, simmer in Tare, ensuring that at least 2/3rds of the pork is covered with liquid. Simmer covered with parchment paper for 25 minutes, rotating, finish in the oven at 325°.
Remove from oven, allow to cool, and refrigerate overnight. This is important, if you slice the Chashu while it's warm it will fall apart and you will lose your wow-moment-component.
This is just another layer of flavor to tickle your palate.
2 Tablespoons diced ginger
2 Tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
1 Tablespoon dried and diced chili
1/2 cup Neutral Oil
Heat 1/2 of neutral oil
Place aromatics in a jar
Pour hot oil over aromatics
Cover and let rest at least 24 hours before serving. The further in advance, you can make it the more of an impact it will have on the dish.
Pick your favorite toppings. I used carrots, sauteed shitake mushrooms, Bok Choy, radish, scallions, and jammy eggs.
I blanched the carrots for 4 minutes, the Bok Choy for 2 minutes, after the time has elapsed immediately place in an ice-water bath to stop the cooking process. You want them to soften but to still have texture and crunch.
I thinly sliced fresh Shitake Mushrooms and sauteed them with olive oil, and right before they finished cooking added a splash of Tamari
For the Jammy Eggs, which are just half-boiled eggs. You bring water to a boil, place room temp eggs in the boiling water for 6 minutes. After 6 minutes promptly place them in an ice-water bath to stop the cooking process. Once the eggs have cooled, peel them and marinate, at least overnight in the reserved Tare sauce.
The Scallions and Radish are left raw
We can finally eat, well almost. Plating this is a process, just like the rest of the dish, but worth it. Since this is made in different stages and could be prepped several days in advance, I'm just going to say this once, all of the ingredients below should be hot to serve before building your ramen bow. Everything except for the Jammy egg, leave that as is, slice, and place on top of the Ramen.
Ladle some of your reserved Tare into the bottom of your bowl
Ladle your hot bone broth on top of that
Place your Ramen noodles in the middle
Begin placing your toppings around the bowl
Chashu, slice 1/8" width, fry in a hot skillet, just prior to plating, and be careful so it doesn't fall apart. Similarly, you can throw on a grill for a couple minutes, or hit with a torch before plating.
Drizzle your aromatic oil over the top, you don't need much
Enjoy! You've earned it!