I'm not going to pretend to be an expert in Ramen. Today, it's a very trendy food and has a somewhat cult following. To me, it reminds me of BBQ. There are a bunch of different styles with no single style being "all mighty." Those who know their style profess their allegiance to some core techniques. I am more neutral than that.
Ramen started for me just a few years ago. Ben, the owner of Fluffy Duck Bakery, introduced me to his friend Alex, at that time the executive chef at Spice Kitchen. The two of the were going to host a ramen pop-up at the bakery. They needed pork belly, pork bones, and skin from Ohio City Provisions.
One day after hours they came by to use our kitchen and kettle to make their broth. I had started the broth hours before with pork bones, skin, onions and carrots. I had it a little higher than I usually let stock bubble. He wanted it to boil.
When Alex showed up, he turned the kettle to max and stirred in green onions and a few hot peppers. After about 20 minutes of a rolling boil, we drained the stock out of the bottom of the kettle (at home you can strain it through a colander into another pot) into buckets. We placed the buckets in the sink surrounded by ice. With an immersion blender, he mixed the broth so that it would chill rapidly AND emulsify (suspend) the fat into the broth. This made for a cloudy, almost creamy white broth that had a thick, sticky mouth feel from the emulsified fat and the gelatin from the skin. It was delicious.
For today's bag, it's not possible to give everyone fatty pork skin to fold into their broth, and the chicken stock is a more versatile ingredient should you want to use it for something other than ramen.
The Marinated Pork Belly - How to Cook
Alex and Ben also marinated pork belly, tied it tight into a roll, and cooked it sous vide until tender. This was added as the meat in their ramen. Today's pork belly was marinated in a sweet Japanese rice wine (Mirin), soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sake.
Our alternative is to provide you with cubes of marinated pork belly that you can simply simmer in the chicken stock on the stovetop or braise in the chicken stock in the oven.
A few weeks ago, I tried it out with good success. Simply bring your stock to a boil. I added a bottle of beer to mine to add some extra volume. I added the marinated pork belly to the braising liquid and brought it to a soft simmer on the stovetop for approximately an hour (until tender).
Strain out the pork belly and add your vegetables, cut to a size that they will cook quickly. I had cut up matchsticks of carrot, turnip, and radish. I like some crunch, so I only boiled them for a few minutes. In my case, I was able to cook my ramen noodles and matchsticks of vegetables together in the broth. Cook until noodle is tender. If your vegetables are larger chunks, cook them first and then add in the noodles. The noodles cook up within just a couple minutes.
Stain out the noodles and vegetables from the broth into another container and chill the liquid as described above (in an ice bath) and blend with an immersion blender. You may need to add some water if the liquid has reduced down too far.
Place your pork belly and vegetables in a bowl. Pour the broth over top. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish as you like with pickled vegetables, poached egg (or fried), or anything your heart desires.