Ramen Journal, Part III: The Pork

An important part of traditional ramen is the meat element, usually a nice, thick slice of pork belly.  My favorite method of cooking pork belly is sous vide.  By keeping the water bath at a precise temperature, you have absolute control on how the meat will be cooked.  I built a DIY Sous Vide Machine and would highly recommend this project to those who are wary of spending $400 dollars in a Sous Vide Supreme. We also tried brined versus un-brined to see the difference in taste.  The brined pork belly retains significantly more of the juices after the sous vide cooking process. I also wanted a simple brown sugar sauce that would let the flavor of the pork belly shine.  After scouring the internet, I came across a Brown Sugar Glaze for pork chops recipe by Alyssa at the Recipe Critic which works really well with the sous vide pork belly.

1-2 lbs slab of Pork Belly

For the Brine:

For the glaze:
¼ cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

1. In a large bowl, add water/salt with a ratio of 16:1, enough to submerge the pork belly.  You can use the butcher’s twine to tie the pork belly into a compact roll.  Place the pork belly in the water/salt mixture, cover the bowl in saran wrap and leave in the refrigerator overnight.

2. After the pork belly has been brined over night, set the temperature on the sous vide machine for 150 degrees F.  Next, add all of the ingredients of the glaze together in a bowl and mix.  Take the pork belly out of the water and place into zip lock bag, along with the glaze mixture.  Spread the mixture evenly around the pork, push the air out and seal the bag, and then carefully place in the sous vide water bath once the water has reached the target temperature.

Ready for the brine

Ready for the brine

Brined overnight

Brined overnight

Ready for sous vide

Ready for sous vide

3. Leave in the water bath for 36 hours.

The sous vide machine

The sous vide machine

4. Feel free to serve the pork belly as is, but I’ve found that it is much easier to cut thinly if it has been refrigerated overnight.  I like to cut the pork belly and put it in the ramen bowl while it is still cold, since the warm broth will heat it up.

Delicious pork belly

Delicious pork belly



2 thoughts on “Ramen Journal, Part III: The Pork

  1. Great post! I noticed that pork belly got a bit dry after cooking it sous-vide at 150F (65C), so I’ve started using 140F (60C) instead and for 48 hours. Very interesting to see that brining also helps, I’ll have to try that! I’ve done chicken ramen from scratch, but no pork ramen yet.

    • The first time I made the pork belly was without a brine, and at 150F it was too dry for my taste as well. I haven’t yet experimented with a lower temperature and longer duration, I’ll be sure to try that out next time.

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