The umami-rich broth for this pork belly ramen is so incredibly satisfying, we dare you to find a more iconic comfort food. Tender slices of pork belly are draped alongside scallions, soft-boiled eggs, and intensely earthy mushrooms over supple noodles. All enveloped in a warming broth. Guaranteed soul-soothing.–Jenny Howard
In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, soak the dried mushrooms in the hot water for 20 minutes.
Strain through a double layer of cheesecloth or a fine strainer, reserving the liquid and mushrooms separately. Rinse the mushrooms in cold water.
In a 5-quart (4.7-liter) Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the pork belly, skin side down, and cook until crisp, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the pork belly to a plate.
Add the onion and garlic to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, 4 to 6 minutes.
Return the pork belly, skin side up, to the Dutch oven. Stir in the reserved mushrooms and their soaking liquid, the ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, mirin, and a large pinch of salt.
Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook until the pork belly is fork-tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
After the first hour of cooking, check the liquid in the Dutch oven. If necessary, pour in a little bit of water or chicken broth to keep the mixture from caramelizing too much. It should be liquidy and not too reduced throughout the braise.
Let the hot braising liquid from the Dutch oven cool for at least 10 minutes. Pour it in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Always start at low speed when blending hot liquids and gradually increase the speed to avoid sudden splatters.
Add the chicken broth to the braising liquid and blend again.
Return the broth mixture to the Dutch oven and adjust the seasoning with additional salt, if desired. Keep warm over low heat.
Thinly slice the pork belly and any larger mushrooms.
Divide the ramen noodles among the bowls and ladle the hot broth on top. Add the slices of pork belly, mushrooms, egg halves, and scallions. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and/or sansho pepper, if desired, and serve.
The dried shiitake mushrooms in this recipe are essential, lending the ramen broth its deeply earthy flavor and savory richness. After soaking in hot water to reconstitute, the mushrooms need to be strained through cheesecloth to catch any fine grit before both the mushrooms and soaking liquid are added back to the braise.
If you prefer the texture of fresh mushrooms to the chewy bite of cooked dried mushrooms, try this: After cooking the braise as directed, remove and discard the cooked dried mushrooms as they’ve already imparted umami to the broth. Then slice a handful of fresh shiitake or crimini mushrooms and cook them in hot oil for a few minutes until tender and nicely browned at the edges. Then simply substitute the freshly cooked mushrooms for the dried mushrooms.
We enjoyed this soup. It’s as rich and satisfying as the description promises and makes for a very complete and filling meal. The pork belly gives the dish a unique taste of umami, which is further enhanced by the mushrooms and their soaking liquid.
I increased the liquid braising ingredients as suggested, but still had to add 1/4 cup of water toward the end of the braising period. This resulted in 2 tablespoons of braising liquid to process in the blender.