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Ramen was created to be a tasty, quick and cheap way to feed Japan. It became so much more.
4 pounds pigs' feet
Fresh ramen noodles (I prefer Sun Noodles), cooked
2 yellow onions, cut in half
Ginger, roughly cut
2 pounds slab boneless pork belly, skin-on
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup sake
1 cup mirin
1/2 cup sugar
6 scallions, roughly chopped
6 whole garlic cloves
2-inch knob ginger, roughly sliced
1 whole shallot, split in half (skin on)
1-2 cherry tomatoes, halved
Prepare the broth. Add pigs' feet to a large pot of cold water. Bring water to a boil, and cook until water has turned milky. Remove pigs' feet and dump out water. Refill pot with clean water, and return pigs' feet to pot. Add chicken pieces, onions and ginger. Bring to a boil and cook for 6 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
While broth is cooking, prepare pork belly. Lay pork belly on cutting board, and roll up lengthwise with skin facing out.
Using butcher's twine, tightly secure pork belly at 3/4-inch intervals.
Preheat oven to 275°F. Heat 1 cup water, soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar, scallions, garlic, ginger and shallot in a medium saucepan over high heat until boiling. Add pork belly (it won't be submerged). Cover with the lid left slightly ajar. Transfer to oven and cook, turning pork occasionally, until pork is fully tender and a cake tester or thin knife inserted into its center meets little resistance, 3-4 hours. Transfer contents to a sealed container and refrigerate until completely cool.
When ready to serve, remove pork belly and strain broth. Reserve broth for another use (like making ajitsuke tamago). Slice pork belly into thin rounds (it might help to cut it in half lengthwise first).
Test ramen broth; add salt if needed. Add cooked noodles to a bowl and top with broth.
Reheat pork belly slices in soup broth with noodles. Alternatively, heat a small amount of reserved broth in a skillet and heat pork slices in broth until hot, or reheat with a blowtorch, charring the surfaces.
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- Some say that we've reached peak ramen, and I beg to differ. I mean, noodles and soup coming together, they're elemental, and ramen, as far as I'm concerned, is the highest expression of those two things together.
- [Announcer] Frankie's World.
- Now before we were in the ramen-sance, if you will, that we're in today, I only knew of the packaged stuff. I lived off of it, maybe you're living off of it right now. I'm sure you know somebody that has lived off of it. In the last century, Japan has given us many things, the aircraft carrier, the compact disc, the digital calculator, the bullet train, the karaoke machine. ♫ And I The VHS, the DSLR, in 1998 they gave us the emoji. But in a poll taken in December of 2000 the Japanese people voted for what they thought the greatest gift to the world they did was. And you know what they picked? Instant ramen as the number one invention in the 20th century. Where does this marvelous thing come from? Well it comes from a man named Momofuku Ando. Ando moved to Osaka right after World War II, and he saw great hunger, lots of food shortages, and he determined that peace will come to the world when everyone has enough to eat. And in 1950 his time came. When the bank he was working for failed, that's when he decided to go full blast into feeding Japan's entire population. Ando had a list of criteria for what the ideal food to end hunger had to be, tasty, non perishable, ready in less than three minutes, economical, safe, and healthy. But for years Momofuku had a problem with taking the perfect bounce and lovely shine of the noodle and preserving it in the package. Until one day he decided to throw those noodles into his wife's tempura oil.
- What the hell are you doing?
- I don't know!
- You see, when noodles are fried at a really high temperature, all these little holes are created within the noodle, and the water goes out. And then when you reboil them, all the water goes back into those little wormholes, and makes it bouncy, al dente, and pretty fantastic. Ironically, Ando's first chicken ramen packets were considered luxury items. The noodles really took off though, and they spread across Japan, and they became a staple of the diet, and they legitimately stemmed hunger. But there's another group of people, another demographic often underserved in the food market. They are known as the struggling college student. And sometimes they have to stay up late for studying. Sometimes they have the munchies. All of the times they have very little money to eat. These noodles really helped with those things. Momofuku was never one to rest on his laurels, and he kept innovating up thought the 70s. He noticed businessmen eating his noodles out of styrofoam coffee cups. And what did he do? Brand that shit and sell it! The dude never stopped. I mean, he even invented space ramen to send up with the Japanese astronauts, so that they can have delicious ramen with wonderful toothy and bounciness in a zero g environment. Momofuku exclaimed that mankind is noodle-kind, and by 2008 the world consumption of instant ramen was up to 94 billion packets. Billion with a b like boy, that's 94,000 million packets, that's 14 for every single person on the planet.
- [Announcer] Drama!
- And now, if you please, the Frankie's World Players present , or the Evolution of Soup. Btdubs, that was our version of Dawn of Man from 2001: A Space Odyssey. If you haven't seen the film, you should see it. It's a classic. Listen, the noodle, my guiding north star. The noodle is nothing without soup. Groovy, stewy, unctuous, salty, amazing thing. And soup cannot exist without the culmination of the bone and the bowl.
- [Announcer] It's cooking time! So you want to make ramen? You want to know why ramen is sexy? I'll tell you why ramen is sexy. Ramen is the sophomore album, yeah? Grilling is the self titled first album, man, fire, meat. And then after we ate all the meat, what do we have left? We had bones left. So we created the pot. It's the sophomore album. Great followup, really, has good reviews. This falls into the category. It's like the second thing we did in cooking was making soup. Making soup! So the best kind of ramen, in my opinion, is the tonkotsu one. It's a milky, white broth. And it gets milky white from all of the collagen that is sitting between all of the little bones in the pigs foot.
- [Announcer] Ew!
- You got the ankle, you got the knuckle, you got all these things, an that comes out and suspends itself in the water, collagen and fat, and you get this wonderful milky thing. It's the complete opposite of what the French do. They want to drop a penny in and be able to see it at the bottom. You know, completely clear. This is grunge rock, you know? It is milky, you can't see anything. It's the foggiest night without fog lights. That's what this is, and it's awesome! You start with ice cold water. You bring it up to a boil, and all of the impurities of the pig's feet, they're gonna come out, right? What are we gonna do with those impurities? Let's fast forward. Now that these bones, feet, have had a while to boil, think of this as a cleaning step. We're getting, like, the massive impurities out, and those impurities, although delicious, would yield us a brown broth, and we don't want a brown broth. We want a white broth. So what we do is take these bad boys out, and we dump this water. It gets dumped down the drain now. This was literally like a car wash for pigs feet. Okee dokee, clean water, we got all the impurities out, and now we start making the broth. The pig's feet go back in. We have some chicken backs, and this is just gonna add a little more flavor, and it can just get a little too porky if you go all pigs feet. Onion and ginger! Skin can stay on, it will give it just a little bit of brown color, but I'm cool with it, because it also has a ton of lovely flavor. Okay, great! Ginger, very aromatic, lovely! Just some rough pieces. Oh, man, it smells good! Now you bring it up to a vigorous boil, maybe you stir it, but you need to hold those horses. Don't expect this to be quick. Flavors have finally infused themselves, and I just need to shave now. Alright, obviously that was an exaggeration. The broth is, like, pretty good after six hours. You can go up to 24 hours. Several days, no, that's lunacy. Noodles, some people look at them and go, I don't eat egg! There's no egg in there. It's the alkalinity of the noodle that actually makes it turn yellow. And the Japanese believe, and I believe that they're right, that the alkaline pH of the noodle is what gives it chewiness. And you can buy those noodles fresh, and it's totally worth it. You just want to move them around a little, make sure they don't stick. And now is the time that you should go into your broth and try it, and say, do I need salt? Ooh, warms the soul! And you can do your adjustment as you see fit. So the noodles do not take long to cook. You want to drain them very well. Really try and get all the water out, and the idea is that you don't want to dilute the broth that you've worked so hard on, at all! Now, this is a pasta cooker. If you don't have this, you just take a colander and you shake it all over you floor. So here come the noodles. Ooh! The broth comes right on top. Beautiful, we got the noodles and the broth all set, and now we have to start doing our toppings. Now you can just put a little bit of nori on there, and maybe some egg, and you'd be done. But, man, I think we should dress to impress. I thought if we put a little bit of fried garlic in there, something like that. That would be a fun little surprise for somebody. I thought that this could be the sun that everything revolves around, sort of in the center. This is a topping called furikake, and it's sesame seeds, and nori, and bonito flakes. Marinated seven minute eggs. You boil them, you peel them, and you soak them in a kaeshi, which is soy sauce, mirin, sugar. Pork belly marinated in the same solution. And when I say marinated, I mean braised. That is some belly! One, so these need a little extra love and attention. Oh baby! So get that nice and sizzly, and see that fat is actually quite flammable. Lovely! So you definitely want to put three pieces of the pork belly in there, because in Japanese culture even numbers are bad luck. Good, bad luck, so go with the odd number if you can. I'm just gonna put one, 'cause two is bad luck. It is important to have everything separate, so that you eat with the eyes first. You've got the three pieces of the pork belly. You got the corn that's hanging out with the dark sauce that we braised this in. Everything has its place, but it's time to eat. So there it is, and as the diner I only waited three minutes for this. And in our culture, it's taboo to make noise, but in Japanese culture, it is a compliment to the chef. It also cools the noodles down as they go in your mouth. You can taste the fact that there's 24 hours of love put into this broth, and all of the accoutrement are just fantastic. But when you realize that chefs spent the better part of a day putting this together, you have to wonder, you know, as the diner, I only waited three minutes. Instant ramen! How do you do instant ramen? How do you distill all of this flavor into something that takes three minutes at home? And that, of course, is what Momofuku Ando was thinking when he sat down as a diner, and he said, you know, this would be great to have at home, like, really, really quick. It might even feed the world, which is, of course, the most pressing issue of our time. Feed the world for a cheap amount of food. Well, he did exactly that. It's an absolute phenomenon. And for Americans, for myself, like, I grew up on that stuff. I didn't even know that this existed! And, to me, they're kind of the same. Totally different, of course. But I don't like one better than the other, you know? I can swap it out, no problem! Because real comfort food is just the stuff that you grew up with, right? Hey man, this is pretty good! It's really tasty. It's pretty remarkable.
- [Announcer] Frankie's World.