Kurobuta Cha shu Shoyu Ramen

Its been way too long since my last post...and I've been looking forward to today for quite some time now.. I've been on a crazy whirlwind these past couple of weeks since Christmas.. spending the holidays in Boston with a friend and then becoming unexpectedly stranded from the storm....don't get me wrong, I loved spending time in woods of colonial mass..it kind of reminded me of being in the twilight saga minus the romance and blood sucking hunks..shucks..I guess i'll just leave the fantasizing to the movies. Anyway.. lets continue to the actual post here...I tend to go on and on if you haven't noticed.. I get pretty bipolar with my writing at times so do bare with me here.

I'm back in this tiny Island I call home..Singapore. Glad to be back? ....Hell yes. I had no intentions of really doing any cooking..although I had every intention of smothering and suffocating my face with nasi uduk, rendang, kway chap, hor fun, prawn mee, chicken rice, omg..mee pok and my list is endless.. A week has passed and I can't fathom how much I have devoured.. it's been great..but I think I should stop for the sake of my own health and being. Instead of eating my way through the day..my mother suggested that I cook for her and her entourage of ladies..they schemingly found out of my return and couldn't wait to test out the skills and time I've invested in New York.

I decided to make this shoyu ramen because I was inspired by a few dishes that we serve at the restaurant.. And also to test out a few recipes before this friday of culinary creations begin. I combined the two recipes together and I guess this is how they make the shoyu ramen at ippudo! Woohoo!...what a sweet surprise. I'll attempt the milky tonkotsu ramen another time...for now, I shall marvel my accomplishment.

Kurobuta = Japanese Black Pig, Berkshire pig ..same thing. It has a depth of flavor no domestic white pig can ever acquire and its definitely worth the price. The pigs are given a richer diet, consisting of grains and alcohol to make the meat sweeter..they also live a pretty good life for a piggy.. getting massages and belly rubs..a scratch behind the ear here and there.

Using the kurobuta pork was just something I felt like using, Ippudo uses the same. A richer taste doesn't hurt you know.. and it was worth every penny.

It's a process to make this dish.. a long process..however long the process may take..it is a process you will sacrifice to make every time. The most vital part of cooking japanese food is starting with a good dashi. Dashi is like the holy grail of Japanese cooking..its like the western chicken and veal stock.. you always need it in hand and its like in everything..and the best thing about it is..it's easy to make ichiban dashi (first dashi).

You will need 2 things: Konbu (dried kelp) and Bonito (dried and smoked tuna, or mackerel) it's the fish flakes you see on top of dishes that make you percieve its still alive since it reacts to heat. Get a very large pot of cold water on the stove, immerse the konbu in it and bring it to a near boil..once it gets to that stage take the konbu out and reserve..bring the heat down and drop in like two very large handfuls of bonito.. let it sit there for about 3-4 minutes or until it kinda sinks to the middle. Strain the liquid through 3 chinois or a cheese cloth wrapped chinois. Ta-daa!! the dashi is complete! Now it can be used as any flavor base.. Oh yes, the reserved konbu can be made into a second dashi. Just follow the same process but for example if you made 3 litres of dashi.. for the second dashi start with 1.5 litres..since the konbu isnt so concentrated anymore..and use new bonito.

After all that dashi has been made..flavor it with mirin, soy, sake, and sugar. Boil it and reduce to 3/4..let it cool and add a splash of yuzu for brightness. Now after all that has been done.. heat up a seperate pot and brown all sides of the pork belly till its golden brown. Cover the belly with dashi and simmer (covered) for 3-4 hours depending on the size of the belly. When its done the soup should be packed full of lip-smacking collagen packed porky goodness and the belly.. pretty much melting in your mouth.

I went to the local japanese supermarket next to clarke quay and picked up some japanese eggs.. they have a really nice bright orange yolk! perfect for this dish.. I boiled them for 4 minutes, took them out and let them sit in cold running water for a minute or two..I de-shelled them and heated them back up in the shoyu...cut them open to my surprise..and they looked awesome!

I served mine with the noodles..sweet corn, a soft yolk boiled egg, and the kurobuta cha shu and julienned the greens of a scallion for the garnish.


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