Ivan Ramen's Pork Belly Chashu

Ivan Orkin's ramen shops are renowned for thick, juicy slices of succulent pork chashu on top of bowls of ramen noodles. Chashu is Chinese-style, soy-and-sugar-seasoned pork. This pork chashu recipe from Ivan Ramen, his new cookbook, is seventh of a total eight components in his signature shio ramen noodle dish.

However, pork chashu is very versatile and is equally delightful on top of a bowl or rice, as an indulgent sandwich filling or pan-fried until crispy. Indeed, this pork chashu recipe crops up again and again, for instance in his Ago Dashi Ramen recipe and his breakfast Yakisoba dish. When using pork chashu in non-soup dishes Ivan offers the following advice:

Keep in mind that I purposely keep the soy, sugar, ginger and garlic on the lighter side so as not to interfere with the flavour of the soup and noodles. If you want more flavourful pork belly for non-soup applications, feel free to replace some of the water in the braise with more chashu tare.
Ivan recommends going for a good-quality piece of pork belly. When perfecting his menu he even went through six different types before finally deciding on the breed he liked best! This recipe is taken from the beautiful, recently published Ivan Ramen. Many thanks to Ivan Orkin and Bloomsbury Publishing for sharing such a delightful recipe with us.

Ingredients Serves: 4

  • 25ml sake
  • 25ml mirin
  • 10g garlic, chopped coarsely
  • 15g fresh ginger, peeled and chopped coarsely
  • 135ml dark soy sauce
  • 75ml light soy sauce
  • 15g caster sugar
  • 1 x 1kg piece of pork belly
  • Water

Method

  1. Measure the sake and mirin into a saucepan and heat it to a light simmer over medium heat. Cook for 3 minutes to burn off some of the alcohol.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger and two soy sauces to the pan and bring the mixture back to a simmer over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Continue cooking, uncovered, over medium heat for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. Leave the mixture to sit for at least an hour to allow the flavours to meld.
  3. Remove the meat from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking to allow it to come closer to room temperature. Completely cold meat cooks more slowly, and you’ll risk drying out the exterior before the interior cooks.
  4. Cut the pork belly in half across the grain and put it in a pot that will hold it snugly. Pour in the cooled chashu tare, then add enough water to just cover the pork by about 1cm.
  5. Over high heat, bring the liquid up to a full boil. Skim off any scum that comes to the surface. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, covered, for 2½ to 4 hours until the meat is tender enough to be easily pulled apart with a fork. In my experience, mass- produced pork belly takes longer to cook than small farm-produced pork belly, so the cooking time will depend on what you buy.
  6. When the meat is tender, remove it from the pot and set it on a tray to cool. Reserve the cooking liquid for future braises or for the eggs on page 131; it will keep for a week in the fridge or you can freeze it for 2 months.
  7. Once the meat has cooled down to room temperature, refrigerate it until it’s completely chilled, or up to 5 days. It’s important to chill the belly thoroughly before slicing it, or you’ll end up with pulled pork. Once it’s cooled, slice the belly into strips across the grain, then into pieces of the desired thickness. I like 1cm slices. You can reheat the pork and use it however you see fit. I reheat my pork belly in simmering water or stock for a minute to keep the flavour clean.

Extract taken from Ivan Ramen by Ivan Orkin, published by Absolute Press, £20.00, Hardback.

Photography © Daniel Krieger & Noriko Yamaguchi


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