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  • A Bowl of Braised Pork Belly Ramen for Michael Symon


    Last Fall I found myself completely won over by the succulent charms and satisfaction of home-braised pork belly. That was the season I worked on testing recipes for the chapter, Fresh Bacon: The Glories of Braised Pork Belly, in Michael Symon’s Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen. Yes – an entire chapter devoted solely to that cut so richly streaked both of silken-fat and lusciously savory meat – would you expect anything less from Cleveland’s King of Pork? The recipes using the belly are fantastic (hear this: fresh bacon with watermelon and haloumi makes a mind-blowing breakfast or brunch item), however, after braising, left over was some of the the richest, most flavorful broth I’ve ever tasted without designation in the book. Thinking, “Ramen – this broth would make the most exquisite base for a bowl of ramen”, one year later, in true Pavlovian form, I’ve returned to the Fall, the pork and its heavenly liquor – determined to create a bowl of noodles fit to please an Iron Chef.

    With gorgeous local belly (thanks for the new source, Live to Cooks co-author and other Michael, Ruhlman), and Cleveland clambake season in mind, I went to work constructing my bowl using Symon’s technique for braising but altering the flavorings to give it a decidedly Asian bent. The components: Strained belly braising liquid, fresh noodles from the Asian market, pan-crisped and browned belly, some steamed-just-to-popping plump middleneck clams, half a 5 minute local egg, roasted both local corn and crisp dice of sweet potato to add an element of sweetness, and a pluck of flash-sauteed pea shoots (for me! for me! – must have green veggies!). Shaved scallion and cayenne chile wait ready at the sidelines to mix in to taste for piquancy and heat.

    The below belly recipe is of my own seasonings; Symon’s version is in the book which will be released this November 3rd. The recipes from the book did totally rock my kitchen, and maybe even my world. Michael, I know how much you enjoy a big bowl of brothy Asian-style noodles, so this one’s for you:

    Braised Pork Belly

    Yields approximately 1 1/2 pounds belly and 1 quart braising liquid

    2 lbs.  fresh pork belly, skin removed, fat left in place

    2 tablespoons kosher salt

    2 teaspoons palm sugar

    1 teaspoon toasted and ground coriander seeds

    1 teaspoon five spice powder

    1 teaspoon cinnamon

    tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

    Grated zest from 1 orange

    2 large shallots, sliced

    1 carrot, sliced

    5 large coins of peeled ginger

    4 whole garlic cloves

    1 whole star anise

    1 stick cinnamon

    1 cup dry Chinese rice wine

    1 quart homemade chicken stock

    Rinse the pork belly and pat dry.

    In a small bowl, mix together the salt, sugar, coriander, five spice, cinnamon, red pepper flakes and orange zest. Coat the pork belly with the mixture and place in a large plastic bag or wrap well in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.

    Preheat the oven to 275.

    Remove the belly from the refrigerator, rinse off seasonings and pat dry.

    In a large pot, combine the shallot, carrot, garlic, ginger, star anise, cinnamon stick, rice wine and chicken stock and bring to  a simmer.

    Put the belly in a Dutch oven and pour liquid over it. Place belly in oven and braise until very tender, 3-7 hours.

    Remove from the oven and let cool 20 minutes. remove belly, wrap. Strain braising liquid into a container. Both belly and liquid may be kept refrigerated up to one week. To use belly, slice and pan-crisp andbrown as needed – I like to do it slowly in cast iron.


    1. Carolyn Spengler
      Posted September 26, 2009 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      oh boy – does THAT look good!!! I want to try to do something with pork belly. I have a hog reserved that is ‘going away’ in late November. I’ll need to get this book for reference. Do you know if the book discusses the different types of cuts? I need to get educated on that before November comes. When ordering up beef, I know that if I want porterhouse steaks, I won’t be getting the whole tenderloin. Am I correct in saying that if I get the pork belly then no bacon?

      Anyway – this dish looks delish!

    2. Posted September 26, 2009 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      This looks and sounds amazing. I can’t wait to get this book. I am dying to get a fresh pork belly too. The hunt begins now.

    3. Posted September 26, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      Carolyn, pork belly is the same cut you will need to cure bacon. thanks!

      Bud – best of luck on your search – the rewards are plentiful and delicious.

    4. Posted September 28, 2009 at 6:20 am | Permalink

      that is gasp food and a photo that will stay with me until I get to eat something like it – thats what good posts do, they nag away at you.
      beautiful stuff.

    5. Posted September 28, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      holy crap heidi. this looks AMAZING.

    6. Posted September 28, 2009 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know the first thing about cooking pork. I’ll eat it, occasionally, but only if someone else cooks it. This looks AWESOME. Gorgeous photo too!

      How DO you do it, Ms. Robb?

    7. Amy Viny
      Posted September 29, 2009 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      WOW Heidi-What a recipe–I think my head is about to explode–Must get pork belly…NOW!

    8. Posted September 30, 2009 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      heidi, your food is magnificent. but this one? damn girl. and that photo! simply breathtaking.

      i wish for this bowl to one day grace my presence…

    9. Posted October 2, 2009 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Rachel, Alexa, Michelle, Amy, Claudia. Makes me sad that I couldn’t have shared this with all of you – truly.

    10. Posted October 4, 2009 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      OMG, this is beautiful. I have a full pork belly I’ve been saving for a rainy day… looks like it’s gonna rain. Thank you for sharing this!

    11. Posted October 5, 2009 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      Maggie, thank you – I think pork belly is good for any kind of weather. Glad you found me so I could discover Eat Boutique.

    12. Carolyn
      Posted January 31, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Heidi, where’d you get the ramen from?

    13. Posted January 31, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Carolyn – you are in the Cleveland area? Check out the fresh refrigerated noodle selection at any of the Asian markets – Asia Foods on Superior and CAM Asia on Miles Rd. are generally on my routes.

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