A far cry from the storebought packages, real ramen starts with amazing broth. Chef Kolin Vazzoler of the late, lamented Shimo Modern Steak, in Healdsburg, California, simmers his for 12 hours. Then he ladles it over noodles and adds toppings like brined pork belly. Our simplified version (but still over the top, taste-wise) can be made in a long afternoon--or started the day before.
MISO BROTH AND PORK BELLY
3 pounds pork baby back ribs* (cut apart between bones)
3 pounds chicken backs or wings
1 large carrot, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, crushed, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
3 qts. reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
1 1/3 pounds pork belly*, skin removed but thick layer of fat retained (ask a butcher to do this)
1 1/2 cups sake, divided
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
5 quarter-size slices fresh ginger
1 lemongrass stalk, smashed with a mallet and cut into 3-in. pieces
1 piece kombu* (dried seaweed), about 3 by 8 in.
1/4 cup white (shiro) miso*
1 qt. (1 1/4 lbs.) peeled butternut squash pieces
2 tablespoons chopped pickled ginger*
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
NOODLES AND ACCOMPANIMENTS
18 to 20 oz. fresh thin Asian wheat noodles (or use 13 oz. dried)
3 1/2 cups mung bean sprouts
1 qt. lightly packed watercress sprigs
3 green onions, cut into 2-in. slivers
How to Make It
Make broth and pork belly: Preheat oven to 450°. Put pork ribs and chicken on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, turning occasionally, until well browned, 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook carrot, onion, and half the garlic with oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, stirring often, until browned, 10 to 15 minutes.
Add shiitakes, roasted meat, and all but 1 cup broth to pot. Discard fat from pan used for meat, add remaining cup of broth, and heat on stove, stirring, to loosen browned bits; pour into pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until meat is falling off the bones, about 3 hours.
Meanwhile, cut pork belly into pieces, each about 1 1/2 by 2 in. Put in a large saucepan with 3 cups water, 1 cup sake, the salt, sugar, soy sauce, ginger, lemongrass, and remaining garlic. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until very tender when pierced, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Drain, discarding seasonings.
Preheat broiler with rack set 3 in. from heat. Put pork belly fat side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until well browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a board and slice crosswise 1/2 in. thick.
Strain broth from step 2 (discard solids), skim and discard fat. Wipe pot clean; return broth. Add kombu and heat until bubbles appear. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Discard kombu. Whisk in remaining sake and the miso. Set broth aside.
Prepare squash: Preheat oven to 425°. Toss ingredients in a 9- by 13-in. pan and bake, turning occasionally, until squash is browned and tender, 30 to 35 minutes.
Cook noodles: Heat a pot of water to boiling and cook noodles until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. If needed, reheat miso broth until steaming; warm pork and squash in oven. Arrange a handful of bean sprouts in each of 6 large, deep bowls. Add noodles. Ladle broth over them, then arrange pork, squash, watercress, and green onions on top.
*Look for sustainably raised pork ribs and belly at stores like Whole Foods Market. You may need to special-order the pork belly from your butcher. Find kombu and jarred pickled ginger in the Asian foods aisle and miso with refrigerated foods.
Make ahead: Through step 6, up to 2 days, chilled.
Not sure it's worth the time. I expected a very very rich broth, and it was good but not fabulous. I do admit that I had only 1 qt chicken broth, so added 2 qts water, but thought that with the 3 lbs chicken back and 3 lbs bb ribs that would be plenty for the broth. I've made broth from scratch before with less that was more flavorful. It was a bit fattier than necessary for good taste.
Think it would be good with cilantro and maybe some chili sauce.
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