Food escapades in modernist cuisine

Sous Vide Pork Belly, Ramen Broth, Onsen Egg

There's been a lot of buzz recently (see Eater Boston, Chowhound) over a new ramen noodle house named YumewoKatare that opened about a month ago near Porter Square in Cambridge. After hearing all the positive reviews and observing what appears to be the ever existent line of customers waiting outside the restaurant, my wife and I recently tried the ramen there for ourselves. The ramen was indeed outstanding, probably one of the best bowls we've had in Boston. The noodles are thicker than the traditional ramen noodles, the broth super rich, and the pork belly meltingly tender. The bottomless servings of vegetables, broth and garnishes are great too. We were in the mood for ramen again but weren't keen on waiting in line in the cold for an hour plus, so we decided to try making our own ramen at home.

Earlier in the week, we had purchased some pork belly from the local Chinese supermarket. Planning on having ramen for dinner the following night, I put together a quick marinade of Chinese bean paste, soy sauce, pepper, mirin and garlic. I slathered the marinade all over the pork bellies, sealed them up in a large zip loc bag, and threw them in our Sous Vide Supreme. Then I went to bed.

There are lots of different methods out there for sous viding pork belly, some calling for 24, 36, and even as much as 72 hours in the water bath. Since I have limited patience, I opted for 24 hours at 155 degrees.

When I came home from work the following day, I opened up my Sous Vide Supreme to check out the pork belly.

I removed the pork belly from zip loc bag, dried off the moisture from the exterior with some paper towels, and then quickly seared them in a hot sauté pan.

After quickly resting the pork, I sliced the slab into small slices to eventually be placed on top of our noodles and ramen broth.

The pork was very tender and moist, so overall I was pretty pleased. If I had left the pork belly in the water bath for another 8 hours, the meat probably would have been even better

The task of making good ramen is a serious undertaking. After researching lots of recipes, I've learned that making a good broth is nearly an all-day affair. Unfortunately, it being a weeknight, we didn't have the time to devote to crafting a perfected tonkotsu broth, as described here by Kenji Lopez on his Serious Eats blog. A quicker version would have to do.

We made a quick dashi broth using Alton Brown's recipe, which calls for kombu and bonito flakes. We then added to the dashi all of the porky juices and liquids that were released from the pork belly in the zip loc bag. After additional seasoning of soy sauce and bean paste, the broth was ready. It didn't have the richness and depth of YumewoKatare's version, but it was still pretty good for a 30 minute job.

As we were preparing the broth, we dropped two eggs into the Sous Vide Supreme and lowered the temperature to 145 degrees to cook up some onsen-style eggs. And of course we cooked up some ramen noodles.

Here's our fully assembled ramen noodle soup dish!

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