You know, there’s a lot more to ramen than the instant packets that so many of us grew up with. This internationally famous noodle dish first caught the hearts of the Japanese public around the turn of the 20th century (although some legends suggest that it was first introduced in the 1600s). While this dish has taken a variety of forms, chashu pork is a classic nod to the soup’s Chinese roots.
Chashu sounds a lot like Char Siu, and for good reason. When Chinese immigrants introduced Japan to ramen, they topped it with their trademark five-spiced roast pork. In turn, Japanese cooks borrowed the name for a cooking method all their own. Unlike the Chinese method of roasting cuts of pork over high heat, Japanese cooks decided to cook their pork belly low and slow in a flavorful, savory sauce. The end result is an ultra-tender piece of meat that’s the perfect finishing touch for a comforting meal!
Many recipes for chashu call for rolling the pork belly into a spiral shape and tying it tightly before cooking it. Non-rolled versions are becoming more common, though, and this form actually cooks more quickly. It all comes down to personal preference. Either way, you’ll love the flavor of this classic Japanese favorite!
Chashu Pork Belly
One 2-lb block pork belly
1/4 cup regular or lower-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup sake
1 cup water
One 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3-4 green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
Put a Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Once hot, add in the pork belly, and sear on all sides until golden brown. Remove the pork belly to a plate, and drain out the rendered fat. Put the pork belly back in the Dutch oven, and add in the rest of the ingredients. (The liquid should cover the pork about halfway; if it doesn’t, add more water until it reaches the halfway point.) Bring up to a simmer over medium-high heat, then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Let simmer covered for 2 hours. While cooking, turn the pork belly every 30 minutes, and skim any fat off as needed. Once finished, remove the pork from the pan, and let cool. Once cool, place in an airtight container with the sauce poured over it, and refrigerate overnight.
To serve, cut the chilled pork into 1/8”-thick slices. Arrange in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and brush a thin layer of the sauce on top. Place under a broiler for 1-2 minutes, until the pork begins to caramelize. Serve as a topping for ramen, or over rice.
Serves up to 8.