I'm back with another ramen recipe! Full disclosure: this recipe uses the better part of a bottle of sake. Just so you're prepared. This ramen recipe doesn't use wild game but it is made from pork that I butchered myself so it still has a special place in my heart. I've been making variations of this recipe for many years and I finally decided to write it down. If nothing else, I can use it to prove to my family that you can make things other than bacon out of pork belly. Not that I'm hating on bacon. I actually made my own the other day and it was amazing. But variety is good too.
How do you cook pork belly?
My favorite way to cook pork belly is to braise it for a long period of time, slice it, then sear it in a hot pan with some of the braising liquid. Doing this ensures perfectly tender meat with melt in your mouth ribbons of pork fat with a crispy outer layer. Sounds like a dream, right? This method works great for many different flavor combinations but my favorite is definitely this gochujang braised pork belly.
Gochujang is a delicious Korean chili sauce that has the perfect balance of heat and flavor. Combining it with a heavy pour of sake, some aromatics, and a few other ingredients makes the perfect pork belly braising liquid. Once the pork is cooked, the braising liquid gets reduced into a thick, almost syrupy, sauce. The sugar from the applesauce and sake help create a perfectly browned crust on the outside of the meat when you sear it. It's the perfect meat for ramen but is also really good by itself!
How do you make ramen broth?
Let me start by saying, I do not do things the traditional way. I like to figure things out on my own and when they work out, I share them with you! For any type of broth, I like to roast the bones first to try and coax as much flavor as I can out of them. I use a lot of umami-packed ingredients like bonito flakes, dried mushrooms, and kombu to give the broth some depth of flavor. The key ingredient for any broth is time. Some people simmer their broth for days before using it. I like to go for at least 8 hours. Mostly because that's about my max for the time between when I actually get myself going on a weekend morning to dinner time. It seems to work out pretty well but I would be interested to see what this broth could do if I let it go longer.
How do you make ramen noodles?
I have a basic pasta dough recipe that I like to use for all types of noodles, even ramen. Sure they're not really traditional, but they still turn out delicious. I make my typical recipe and cut them into spaghetti size strands and they work perfectly!
Putting it all together:
I like to switch up my ramen toppings to keep it interesting but there are 2 things I always use: pickled onions and soft-boiled eggs. The pickled onions provide a nice bright contrast to the rich pork belly. Plus, I put them on just about anything I can get away with. They're so good! Besides the pickled onions and eggs, I like to top my bowl with a variety of flavors and textures. I do usually try to use some type of mushroom as well. Top your bowl with whatever your heart desires and I'm sure it will be delicious!
Gochujang Pork Belly Ramen
Pork Ramen Broth:
Gochujang Pork Belly:
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 6 cups cooked ramen noodles (homemade or store-bought)
- 8 oz brown clamshell mushrooms (or your favorite mushroom)
- sugar snap peas, cut in half lengthwise
- 3 eggs, soft boiled, cut in half
- fresh radish sprouts
Pork Ramen Broth:
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a sheet pan with foil. Roast bones on sheet pan for 25-30 minutes.
- Heat oil in large stock pot (mine is 8 quarts). Add garlic, ginger, bonito flakes, dried mushrooms, and green onions. Saute 5 minutes or until fragrant. Add in bones and drippings from the pan.
- Deglaze pan with sake. Simmer until liquid has reduced by half.
- Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, and kombu. Fill stock pot with water. Simmer for at least 8 hours.
- Remove bones from broth. Strain broth with fine mesh strainer. Serve hot. Freeze any leftovers in zippered bag.
Gochujang Pork Belly:
- Heat deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork belly, fat side down. Cook until browned and some fat has rendered down, about 5 minutes. Cook on all other sides until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Remove pork belly to a plate and set aside.
- While pan is still hot, add in green onions, garlic, and ginger. Cook until fragrant and slightly softened, about 3 minutes.
- Deglaze pan with sake. Add in applesauce, gochujang, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Bring to a boil. Add pork belly into sauce. Cover and simmer for 4-5 hours or until tender. Flip the meat a couple of times while cooking if it is not fully submerged in the sauce.
- Remove pork belly from sauce. Bring sauce to a boil and cook until reduced by almost a half. Add sliced pork belly back to sauce.
- Slice pork belly. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced pork belly to pan and cook until browned, about 1-2 minutes per side. You can add more of the sauce to the skillet while the pork belly is cooking to add more flavor.
- Combine all ingredients except onions in a small saucepan. Heat until boiling and sugar has dissolved.
- Put sliced onions in quart size glass jar. Pour vinegar mixture over onions. Let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 month.
- After broth has been strained, bring it to a boil. Add in mushrooms and boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove mushrooms from broth and set aside. Keep warm until ready to use.
- To each bowl, add cooked ramen noodles. Pour broth over noodles. Arrange pork belly, eggs, mushrooms, pickled onions, and other toppings around the bowl. Enjoy!