I could eat ramen all day, every day until the sun explodes from heat death, wiping out the entire solar system in the process. Perhaps that is a little extreme, but I do really love ramen. I also love the chashu pork that goes with it. For a long time though, I couldn’t find a good recipe for it online (as I didn’t know what it was called!) and would try cooking pork in a variety of ways that never quite matched up to the ramen places I would eat at.
This recipe is a sort of pick n’ mix of a bunch of different recipes with some extra tweaks to try and get it how I want it. I like to use a mixture of Chinese rice wine and sake for mine, which is a bit different to the usual method, but I find that the darker rice wine adds some extra richness and colour that I love.
This chashu pork doesn’t have to be served with ramen , it can be great with some just some rice and fresh vegetables or served with other noodles such as udon. So feel free to cook this up and just keep it sitting in its juices until it’s ready to be reheated!
This chashu pork has such a rich sweetness to it that counterbalances the salty umami broth of ramen perfectly and despite the cooking time, it is very simple to put together. The other thing is that this pork presents beautifully when carved, so while it is easy to make, it still comes out looking impressive to your guests.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4-5 hours
- 1kg (2 pounds approx.) pork belly
- 75ml (1/4 cup) rice wine
- 75ml cooking sake
- 100ml light soy sauce
- 75ml mirin
- 250ml (1cup) water
- Small handful coriander root
- 1 small knob of ginger (30g approx.)
- Half an onion
- 2 stalks celery
- 2 small carrots
- 1 star anise
- 2 cloves
- Large pot
- Chopping board
- Cooking twine
- Large non-stick pan
Making the Broth
- Start by washing the coriander root and other vegetables thoroughly to remove any dirt.
- Halve the onion, chop the celery into large pieces and cut the carrots up if they are large (I used two small carrots so I left them whole.
- Bash the coriander root lightly with the back of your knife to release it’s flavour and place all ingredients into a large pot.
- Add the rice wine, sake, soy sauce, mirin and water to the pot, along with the star anise and cloves.
- Put the pot on the stove and bring to the boil.
Preparing the Pork Belly
- While the broth is heating up, place the pork belly on your chopping board and roll it up length-ways. Ensure that it is tightly rolled.
- To truss the pork, pull out about 20cm of string and create a small loop. Tie a knot at the base of the loop and pull it tightly. Put that loop around the pork so the knot sits to the side closest to you, then create a loop around your hand with the string and pull it over the pork. Secure that loop about 2-4cm from the previous loop and pull until tight. Continue until the entire thing is trussed. Make sure that it is tightly trussed and secure.
Note: If this trussing technique is confusing to you, you can simply wrap the string around the pork tightly and then tie it off with a knot at one end.
Cooking the Pork Belly
- Heat up a large non stick pan a put in the olive oil.
- Place the pork into it and seal it off on all sides. Be careful as the pork has a lot of fat and will spit. If your twine breaks in the process then you will have to re-truss it.
- Once the pork is sealed off and your broth is boiling, place the pork into the pot. The liquid should sit about halfway or three quartres of the way up the pork, add more water if the level is too low — for instance if it has been boiling for too long on the stove.
- Turn the pork down to a simmer and place a lid or foil cartouche over the pork. Cook for 4-5 hours, turning every 20-30 minutes and ensuring the liquid level doesn’t get too low. Simply top up with more water if it gets below one third of the way up the pork.
- Once the pork is cooked, place the pork, in the broth, in the fridge and let it cool before serving. Remove the string and slice it thinly. The broth is great for ramen egg as well!
Chashu pork was a revelation for me and I hope it will be one for you too. I hadn’t had pork so succulent and rich with flavour before trying this and the way it presents on the plate is just gorgeous.
There aren’t too many alterations I would make to this dish, apart from minor balance changes depending on preference. You can use all sake or all rice wine if you find that you have a particularly good brand of one or the other that you like the flavour of and the star anise and cloves can be removed if you don’t like aniseed.
I know that trussing can be a bit daunting, but if you learn how to do a butcher’s knot it will be a skill that you will have in your back pocket for so many different meat dishes, not just chashu pork. As with anything in the kitchen, the most important part is to just give it a try and to learn by doing!