A Seasonal Ramen with Foraged Fiddleheads & Pork Belly Two-Ways

Posted On December 21st, 2014 Author Lia Rinaldo

A Seasonal Ramen with Foraged Fiddleheads & Pork Belly Two-Ways

Tonkotsu Pork Belly Ramen
Serves 4 (or more) and adapted from here.
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 piece of ginger (1 ounce or thumb-size), peeled
5 cups low-sodium chicken stock, plus more if needed
1 cup Dashi Stock
2 cups water
1 pound pork belly, skin and excess fat removed
1/2 cup sake (rice wine, optional)
1 cup shoyu (soy sauce)
1 cup mirin (sweet cooking wine)
4 boiled large eggs (place into boiling water for 7-8 minutes, then remove and run under cold water)-I used quail's eggs, which require a shorter boil time at about 2.5 minutes, dump them in ice water to quickly cool off and then painstakingly peel each one.
Ramen noodles, single servings of noodles depending in how many bowls you are making up
My additions: 2 raw scallions thin sliced, a handful of blanched fiddleheads, a couple wild cucumber leaves chopped and sriracha mushrooms (recipe below).

Day 1
1. Crush the garlic with the side of the knife. Cut the ginger into 3 pieces. Heat the chicken stock, Dashi Stock, and water in a large pot over medium heat until boiling. Add the pork belly, garlic, and ginger to the stock mixture and cook for 1 hour. The pork should be completely submerged while cooking.

2. Remove the pork belly from the stock and strain the stock through a chinois or fine strainer set over a bowl. Measure the stock and, if necessary, add additional chicken stock until you have 6 cups. Refrigerate the stock overnight.

3. Place the sake, soy sauce, and mirin in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a gentle simmer. Add the pork belly, decrease the heat to medium-low, and cook for 20 minutes. While cooking, turn the pork belly several times to ensure even flavoring. Remove the pot from the stovetop and let the pork belly and cooking liquid cool for 30 minutes. Then transfer the pork belly with the cooking liquid into a small sealable container (the pork belly should be barely submerged in the cooking liquid) and refrigerate for 2 hours.

4. Remove the pork belly from the cooking liquid and transfer it into another sealable container, reserving the cooking liquid in the container. Refrigerate the pork belly overnight. Peel the hard-boiled eggs, add the eggs to the reserved cooking liquid, and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2
5. Make the sriracha mushrooms. Recipe below.

6. The next day, remove the eggs from the cooking liquid, reserving the liquid. This liquid is used to flavor the ramen broth later. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Cut the pork belly into thin diagonal slices, about 1/4 inch thick and 2 inch square. You will use 3 to 5 slices per serving of noodles. Any sliced pork belly not used in this recipe can be frozen for later use. Cut the scallions diagonally into thin slices. And chop up any other fresh things you're adding, in my case, this was the wild cucumber leaves.

7. Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook them according to the directions on the package. While cooking the noodles, in another medium pot add the ramen stock and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Add 7 to 8 tablespoons of the cooking soy liquid to the pot and bring it to a simmer. This is the finished ramen broth.

8. Drain the noodles. Do not rinse the noodles in cold water. Divide the noodles and the hot ramen broth among the bowls. Garnish each bowl with the pork slices (you may warm them in the simmering broth briefly if they are still cold), eggs, and the toppings. Serve hot.

Korean Mushrooms with Spicy Soy Sriracha
Serves 4 and takes about 20 minutes, adapted from here.

2 tbsps sesame oil
1 lb button mushrooms quartered
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp Sriracha sauce
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 green onions, chopped
Cilantro, chopped to garnish

1. In a large skillet, place the sesame oil over high heat until it shimmers. Reduce the heat to medium high and toss in the mushrooms. Spread the mushrooms to a single layer over the pan and let cook without stirring for 8 minutes.

2. While the mushrooms cook, combine the soy sauce, distilled white vinegar, sriracha, and red pepper flakes in a bowl.  Stir the ingredients together until well combined. Pour the combined sauce over the mushrooms and stir the ingredients. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and let cook for another 8-10 minutes. 

3. Remove the mushrooms from the heat. Add the green onions and cilantro to the pan and toss the ingredients to combine. The mushrooms can be served hot or first refrigerated and served cold.

And then I made this at the same time... and almost died and went to heaven.

Pork Belly Confit with Crispy Skin & Torched Caramel Crust
Adapted from here.

570-600 gram of pork belly, skin-on (approx 5 1/2″/14cm square)
3 ~ 4 star anise
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp of ground white pepper
1/2 tsp of black peppercorn
1/2 cup of salt
1/4 cup of honey
4 cups of water

To finish:
2 tbsp of pork fat, or oil for pan-frying
White sugar for torching

Day 1
1. Combine all the ingredients in brining except for the pork belly, in a pot. Bring to a simmer and let cook until the salt has completely dissolved. Chill the brine in the refrigerator until cooled. Place the pork belly in a zip-lock bag and pour the brine into the bag to submerge it.  Rest the bag on top of a deep plate and leave in the fridge to brine for 6 hours.  Make sure the pork belly is fully submerged at all times.

2. Preheat the oven on 230ºF/110ºC. Take the pork belly out of the brine and rinse it clean of any scraps, then really pat it dry with a clean towel.  Place the belly, SKIN-SIDE DOWN in an oven-proof container that’s just wide enough to hold the pork belly, and deep enough to allow 1″ or 3 cm of room on the top. The better the fit of the contain, the less fat you’ll need to confit the pork (a square cake-pan is great). Heat up enough oil (I just used light olive oil instead of pork fat) to cover the pork belly by at least 1/2″ or 2 cm, in a pot until warmed through (but not hot enough to cook the belly). Pour the oil into the baking container, then cover with aluminum foil. Confit the pork in the oven for 4 hours. It should be easy to pierce through with a fork.

3. Carefully remove the pork belly out of the baking container with a wide spatula, WITHOUT breaking the skin or meat.  Set the belly on the cutting board, skin-side up. Wrap a handful of wooden skewers together with tape. Pierce the skin ALL OVER with the tip of the skewers until you have made densely populated, mini holes throughout the skin. Do this GENTLY without breaking up the fat-layer underneath. I find it more efficient to move slowly from one side to the other, instead of random jabbing.

4. Invert and place the pork belly SKIN-SIDE DOWN on a flat-bottomed baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap, then another piece of flat-shaped plate (the bottom of a cake-pan, or another baking dish) over the top of the pork belly. Rest something relatively heavy on top. Chill in the fridge for at least 12 hours, or until needed.

Day 2
5. The next day, 40 minutes before serving: Unwrap the pork belly and place it on a cutting board. The skin-side should be as FLAT as a GRANITE-FLOOR. Trim the pork belly, according to the shape of the skin, into very clean, even and straight-edged square or rectangle. Heat up approx 2 tbsp of the confit-fat in a wide, NON-STICK pan over medium-high heat. Carefully lay the pork belly, SKIN-SIDE DOWN on the pan then turn the heat down to LOW. Take a piece of parchment paper and rest it over the pan, with a opening on the side FACING AWAY from you. Trust me, the skin is going to mini-explode and splatter. The opening allows the steam to escape, but also retain enough heat inside the pan to warm up the pork.

6. Leave the skin to crisp up over low-heat for 18 min, then REMOVE the parchment paper (we want to eliminate the moisture inside the pan now) and cook for another 5 min. Check the skin and see if the entire depth is blistered thoroughly.  If not, keep cooking for another 5 min. It took mine about 30+ minutes. Once ready, turn the pork belly over to heat up the meat-side slighly, approx 1 min.

7. Move the pork belly to a board, skin-side up.  Cover the skin with an even layer of granulated sugar.  It should be thick enough that you don’t see the skin underneath.  Caramelize the sugar with a blowtorch until completely melted and browned.  Let the caramel harden.  Invert the pork belly with the crème brûlée-side facing down.  Use a VERY SHARP KNIFE, cut through the meat-layer and once the knife hits the skin-layer, PRESS THE KNIFE DOWN hard until you hear a crackle and feel the knife has cut through the skin. Serve on the above pho. Or just eat on its own...

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