Ramen with Garlic Togarashi
Japan is high on my lists of places to travel. Between the food, the culture and their love of gorgeous paper products, I might be in heaven. But in all honestly, I want to travel there for the food. The Japanese take their food very seriously. And what better way to experience a culture than through its food culture. There is so much more to Japanese food than sushi – there is yakatori, shabu shabu, traditional soba noodles and of course ramen. We have a well know ramen restaurant in Oakland called Ramen Shop. There here is always a line so I decided to come up with my own ramen recipe. Since ramen is traditionally egg noodles in some sort of delicious salty broth, I thought I would create my own ramen so I can eat it whenever I want and dream of my future trip to Japan.
I am fascinated by international grocery stores or aisles in traditional groceries stores. They are so much more exciting – between the packaging and the fact that you have no idea what any of it says or means, it is pretty exciting and daunting to try and shop. It all seems so exotic when it is probably just potato chip. Just the snacks and their packaging alone is amazing. It is funny to think of snacks as representative of a culture. I would imagine our snacks looks pretty crazy interesting from someone who doesn’t live here. Like a zebra cake - have you ever had one of those? Well I ate a lot of those in college and I would imagine that would be very strange-looking to someone who did not grow up in the states. I mean there literally is a zebra on the container. Or what about boxes of cereal - Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes? So bizarre when you really think about it.
Annnywayy – that is besides the point. I ventured down the international aisle at my local grocery store and managed to find all the ingredients that make this ramen delicious. If you can’t find something, amazon is always a good place to try (downfall is that you have to plan ahead, and I rarely plan ahead!)
This ramen with garlic togarashi sounds a lot harder than it actually is. Pork belly is braised in a garlicky mushroom broth. That braising liquid eventually become the savory broth with the addition of bonito granules. Togarashi is a basically Japanese chili powder, so it is hot. I combined it with some crispy garlic, shallot and sesame oil to add extra flavor to your ramen.
Feel free to top you ramen with any of your favorite topping - I chose traditional ramen noodles, soft-boiled egg, lots of green onions and a big pinch of the garlicly spicy togarashi.
Ramen with Garlic Togarashi
- 8 whole dried shitake mushrooms + 1 cup hot water
- 1 lb skin-on pork belly
- 1 head garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 1 medium-size onion, quartered
- 2 tbsp bonito dashi granules
- 2 small shallots, finely minced
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 2 1/2 tbs togarashi
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 4 servings of ramen noodles
- 4 soft-boiled eggs
- 1 cup finely diced scallions, green parts only
- 1 sheet of Japanese dried nori/seaweed
- salt to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350F.
In a dutch oven, over medium high heat warm the vegetable oil. Brown the pork belly, skin side down until crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pork belly and set aside. In the same pot, add the garlic and cook until browned, about 1 to 2 minutes. Return the pork belly to the Dutch oven and add shitake mushrooms, mushroom soaking liquid, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, mirin and a large pinch of salt.
Braise pork belly for 2 hours covered or until the pork belly is fork tender. Remove pork belly and mushrooms from braising liquid. Thinly slice pork belly and set aside.
Blend the braising liquid, garlic cloves, bonito granules and onion until smooth. Add the chicken stock and taste for salt. Return braising liquid to pot and keep warm.
Make the crispy garlic togarashi by combining shallots and garlic in a small sauté pan with remaining vegetable oil. Saute until crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes, then finely chop. In a small bowl combine the shallot mixture with sesame seeds, togarashi, sesame oil and pinch of salt.
Assemble the ramen bowl by filling a bowl with ramen broth. Top with slices of pork belly, ramen noodles, egg halves, scallions, nori and a large pinch of togarashi.