Chā shū Pork (for ramen)

Last year, during Melbourne’s long COVID lockdown, I became completely desperate. I wrote about my pathetic desperation in For the Love of Ramen and also my subsequent satisfaction after mastering the pork in Lockdown Ramen Obsession. Once again, after being incarcerated by the 5km travel limit, I have had to indulge my eating obsession by cooking the ramen myself. I thought I would share the chā shū pork recipe. It is not difficult, but requires some forward planning. I am also in the situation, once again, of not being able to shop at an Asian grocer. For this particular recipe, the crisis can be averted as my lovely friend Tomoya now stocks Ichiran ramen packs in his online store. Visit the store at Chotto Motto. The box is $44.50 and there are five servings in each box. This really is a bargain, as the only other ingredients you need are spring onions, egg and black fungus or corn or whatever else you usually have in your ramen, plus the pork. This broth is actually a reduced stock, not a powder. It has all the umami, fatty goodness you want in a ramen stock. I estimate this to come to around $12 AUD per serve, using Otway Free Range Pork.

The pork belly itself is quite simple. I shall add step by step photos, as well as the recipe and method.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg pork belly, bones removed
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup cooking sake
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • large knob of ginger, sliced, skin on
  • 2 spring onions, cleaned and cut in half

Method

  1. Roll the pork belly into a cylinder. Wrap some kitchen twine around one end and tie, allowing length at both ends. Take the longer end and wrap it around and around until you reach the other end of cylinder. Tie it off with a bow and then tie the two ends of the twine together. (Check photos…this does not need to be fancy or difficult. Essentially, you just want the pork to stay wrapped up).
  2. Sear all the sides of the pork in a hot pan until browned.
  3. Slice the ginger and spring onions.
  4. Place the soy, cooking sake, sugar and water in a pot. Add the ginger and the spring onions.
  5. Place the pork belly in the pot and bring the sauce to the boil.
  6. Reduce the heat and cover the pot with a lid. (Traditionally you would use a drop lid. I do not have one and a normal saucepan lid works fine).
  7. Simmer the pork for 30 minutes, then turn it a quarter circle.
  8. Simmer for a further 30 minutes and then continue turning and simmering until all four sides have been simmered. (2 hours).
  9. Allow to cool.
  10. Place in a container and pour the sauce over the top.
  11. Cover and refrigerate. I leave it overnight. I think 8 hours is probably sufficient, however, it always tastes better the next day, right?
  12. When you are ready to make your ramen, remove from the fridge, slice thinly and lay out flat on an oven tray covered in foil.
  13. Heat under a grill until the pork is sizzling.(sadly I forgot to photograph this step. I was too hungry with anticipation).
  14. Serve with ramen and enjoy.

When I last made this recipe I decided to try something new with the leftover sauce. I cooked up a slow cooked pork shoulder. I then pulled the pork and mixed the sauce through it. I served it as a donburri on rice, with spring onions to garnish and steamed greens with gomae (creamy sesame sauce) on the side. It was really delicious.

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