YIELD: 12 servings
For the pork belly:
4 lbs. pork belly, fat and skin on
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 cup chopped leeks, white portion only
12 garlic cloves, smashed
2 large pieces of ginger, smashed
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup mirin
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
For the ramen soup broth:
1 1/2 cups prepared Tonkotsu soup mix
1 gallon water
3/4 cup less-sodium soy sauce
For the bowls:
12 large eggs
24 oz. cooked ramen noodles
1 cup thinly sliced (on the diagonal) scallions
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup lengthwise sliced pickled bamboo shoots
nori, cut into strips
1. For the pork belly: preheat oven to 300°F. Set the pork belly, fat-side down on the work surface. Roll into a cylinder and tie across the center at both ends with butcher’s twine.
2. Heat the oil in a roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, garlic and ginger and cook until softened and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in soy sauce, mirin, and hoisin. Set the pork belly, seam-side down, in the liquid, adding water to the bring the level halfway up the roll. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the top of the pan loosely with foil. Braise for 2 hours, baste the pork, braise for another hour, and then baste again. Continue to braise, basting every 15 minutes, until the pork is fork tender, about 1 hour more. Carefully remove the pork and set on a cooling rack. (The braising liquid can be reserved for another use. Strain, discard the solids and skim off the fat. Among other uses, the liquid will give a flavor boost to finished soups.)
3. Meanwhile for the broth and eggs: Whisk together the soup mix and water in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low. Add soy sauce to taste. Keep warm.
4. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Choose a sauté pan or shallow saucepan wide enough to hold the eggs in an even layer and add just enough water to cover them. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, gently set the eggs in the pan and cook for 6 minutes. Immediately transfer the eggs to the ice water. Cool for a few minutes, crack on the wide rounded side (this accesses the air pocket separating the shell from the inner skin), and peel the eggs under the water. Remove the eggs from the ice water. The eggs can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours, but should be brought to room temperature before adding to the soup.
5. To complete: Slice the pork, across the roll, into 1Ž4-inch slices.
6. For each serving, twist about 2 oz. of the ramen noodles and nest in the bottom of a large soup bowl.
Photo and recipe: Kikkoman