Shortcut Ramen with Pork Chasu
Hello lovely readers! I feel like its been awhile since I’ve posted, and I sincerely apologize. I’ve been pretty busy and/or out of town and haven’t had the time or frankly, energy to cook. You know, even the foodiest of foodies sometimes just doesn’t have it in them, and opts for take-out!
As I said, I was out of town last weekend on a long weekend getaway to New York City to spend some quality time with Scott, do a bit of shopping, and eat a bunch of delicious food. We took the bus into the city on Saturday morning, and our very first order of business was to slurp on some ramen at the popular East Village spot, Ippudo. I’d had this place on my invisible checklist for over a year now, and just never got around to trying it, but I’m so excited that I finally did! I’d actually never had real ramen (because I’m certainly not counting my years of eating instant Top Ramen), so this was a real treat, and I wasn’t even really sure what to expect of it. Now, if you know me and Scott at all, you know we’re very frequent diners at Pho Hoa in South Philly, so noodle soup has become a serious hobby of ours. However, upon tasting Ippudo’s ramen, Scott declared that Pho has been knocked down from a 10 to an 8 on the soup scale! It was seriously, seriously, awesome. The broth was rich and thicker than just a normal broth, flavored with miso, ginger, spicy pepper paste, and I’m sure a bunch of other ingredients we’re not allowed to know about. Once we finished our bowls, we knew we had to try our hand at recreating the wonder that is ramen.
Using our taste-bud memories, and know-how around the Asian grocery store, Scott managed to concoct a pretty good homemade substitute! The starch from the noodles combined with the addition of red miso and shrimp paste, helped make our soup comparably creamy and rich. And while I left the broth to Scott, I whipped up some delicious pork chasu (stewed pork-usually made with fattier cuts like pork belly, but I wanted to go a bit leaner) to top our soup with. Overall, our version of ramen was pretty darn delish! I’m sure we’ll still be chasing the Ippodo dragon, but in a pinch this recipe stands up pretty well.
Lean Pork Chasu
- 2lb pork shoulder
- Kosher Salt
- Vegetable oil
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin
- 2 scallions, sliced into 2-inch pieces
- 2/3 cup Chinese cooking wine, available at Asian Markets
- 2/3 cup soy sauce
- 1 1/3 cup water
- 6 TBSP sugar
Trim some fat from the pork shoulder, but leave a fair amount. Slice into broad sections about 2″ x 5″ and sprinkle with a little bit (careful not to over-salt, since you are using soy sauce as well) of kosher salt.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Heat 3 TBSP vegetable oil in a dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Place the meat, working in batches if necessary, in one layer in the pot and let brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer browned pieces to a dish, and continue with remaining pork. Lower the heat and carefully add the sauce to the pot, stirring to release browned bits. Add the pork back into the pot and raise heat back to medium. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer and let cook, covered, for 30 minutes.
Remove pork from pot, and slice thinly against the grain. Transfer to a bowl or Tupperware container. Raise heat in pot and let sauce reduce for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour sauce over the sliced meat and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Ramen Broth (Makes enough for about 4 regular-sized servings, or 2 gigantic soup bowls)
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 cup red miso
- 1/4 cup Korean red chili paste
- 2 TBSP Korean dried chili pepper flake
- Dash white pepper
- 1 tsp chili oil
- 2 tsp shrimp paste
- Fresh Ramen noodles
- Pork Chasu
- Hard-boiled egg
- shitake mushrooms
- fresh grated ginger
- pickled turnip
- fresh bok choy
- chopped scallions
- sesame seeds
Bring chicken broth and water to a boil in a large pot. In the meantime, combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Mix to combine then add to the pot. Lower heat to a simmer.
Add fresh noodles to the pot and cook for 3 minutes. Ladle soup and noodles into bowls, and add your toppings. The hot soup will cook the the bok choy, so no need to cook it prior. Feel free to add whatever fun toppings you can think of too! If you live near one, go visit the Asian grocery store and look around the condiments aisle for other fun pickled and marinated veggies to top your soup with. Other ideas are chili-marinated bamboo shoots, different kinds of mushrooms, pickled ginger, or other fresh veggies like Chinese broccoli.