Dear pork belly. I love you, I really do but sometimes you are too fattening for even me.
…SAYS NO ONE EVER. But 2 lbs of braised pork belly or cha shu may be more than enough for just one person.
So the time finally came when I decided to make tonkotsu ramen from scratch (in an upcoming post). Since I was going to make the broth completely from scratch, might as well go all the way and make the cha shu as well. Cha shu is the deliciously fatty piece of pork belly or pork cheek that comes sliced atop a piping hot bowl of ramen or rice. It is literally melt-in-your-mouth to die for and is an essential component to a perfect bowl of tonkotsu ramen.
For this specific recipe, I went the Serious Eats route and followed the recipe itself to a tee. It was practically the same recipe I used when I made ajitsuke tamago. Lucky me – I could hit two birds with one stone. The only problem I had was that I couldn’t find butcher’s twine (seriously, nobody knows what the hell I’m talking about when I ask) so I left the slep as-is, half-submerged in the braising liquid. Worked like a dream. The trick in this recipe is to roast it in the oven at a low and slow temperature. I also let it cool down and refrigerated it overnight and slicing it the next day was a cinch.
For ramen, I personally would go with pork cheek next time as I found this pork belly was almost too fatty for me. I know. I should have my “foodie” card revoked, right? Whatevs. My opinion. Still great with the ramen and I imagine, just as good on top of rice as well.
Cha shu (adapted from Serious Eats)
What you’ll need:
– 2 lbs pork belly, skin on
– 1 cup sake
– 1 cup mirin
– 1/2 cup granulated sugar
– 6 scallions, roughly chopped
– 2″ knob of ginger, sliced
What you’ll need to do:
1. Preheat oven to 275F.
2. Lay the pork belly skin-side down in an oven-proof dish.
3. Mix all the ingredients for the braising liquid and pour over the pork belly. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 3-4 hours (I baked mine for 4 hours).
4. Let the pork belly cool down and refrigerate. When ready to serve, slice the refrigerated pork belly and reheat in a saucepan with a ladle-full of the braising liquid. Serve with rice or on top of ramen. Makes 6-8 servings.