Easy pork ramen recipe with tender pork belly. How to cook the pork belly, make it crispy before serving and build the ramen bowl.
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Read on for useful tips and step-by-step pictures (2 mins)
Pork ramen can be made in multiple ways – from the most popular chashu pork (Japanese braised pork belly) through several other variations of pork belly and more unorthodox ways of preparing crispy pork from the shoulder or loin of the animal.
Our personal favorites are crispy slices of super tender pork belly. To make these we first cook the cut low and slow so that a lot of the fat renders and the meat becomes saturated with rich, porky flavor.
How to Cook Pork Belly for Ramen?
You have options! In this post we crisp up pieces of succulent smoked pork belly, but you can do the same with a slab slow cooked in the oven or braised.
All three methods – smoking, oven cooking and braising, have two things in common. The pork belly is literally transformed at a low temperature for a prolonged time. The combination of low heat and slow cooking delivers tender and juicy meat for a cut that can be very tough if not prepared properly. The finished side of pork contains plenty of fat which helps form an appetizing, crispy outside when slices are briefly sizzled in a skillet.
While we favor the smoking preparation (the fragrant infusion of wood notes cannot be beat), oven baking and braising have their own merrits. Choose your preferred method and have the pork slab already cooked and sliced before you start making ramen with it.
Popular Toppings for a Ramen Bowl with Pork Belly
You can put anything in a bowl of pork ramen, but among the best loved traditional toppings in Japan are soft boiled eggs (ajitama) which are usually lightly marinated, bean sprouts, pickled bamboo shoots (menma), corn kernels, scallions, dried seaweed (nori), marinated fish cake (kamaboko) shiitake mushrooms, radish. The variety of textures and flavors they collectively bring helps create a balanced dish.
NOTE: Herbs like cilantro and Thai basil are not among the garnishes that traditionally go on ramen, neither are avocado or jalapeno slices as a topping. Nori on the other hand is almost a necessity. However, if you simply want a comforting bowl of pork ramen your way, add the toppings you desire. (Psst. we rarely give up jalapenos, sometimes we flash fry them first, sometimes we add raw slices).
Because multiple ingredients go in this pork ramen bowl it is helpful to organize your work flow so you can seemlessly assemble everything.
Below is a suggested manner of going about the multitude of steps in order to compact the entire process. We like to start with the ingredients that can be prepped and set aside and move towards those that need to be served warm, as soon as you fix them.
Treat this step-by-step routine only as a guideline and replace/add ingredients per your own taste.
1. Make the bean sprouts. Ramen bowls are typically not made with fresh, unflavored bean sprouts (contrary to Vietnamese pho). Instead the bean sprouts are either sauted briefly or blanched, flavored and only then added to the noodles.
- Blanche in boiling water, drain and toss in sesame oil and soy sauce, with a generous sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. Once dressed, the soy beans can be set aside.
2. Make the soft boiled eggs. This signature topping for ramen and its softness contrasts well with the crispy pork belly and crunchy toppings.
- Bring water to roaring boil, gently add the eggs (cold, straight from the fridge), lower the heat a bit so you have a gentle boil and simmer for 7 mins for runny or 8 mins for custardy yolks. Immediately place in an ice bath to cool down. Peel with care because they whites will be exceptionally soft. Slice in half.
Use the time while the eggs are boiling to cut up some nori (if using) and to get going on the ramen broth and noodles.
3. Make the ramen and broth. Depending on the noodles and broth you procured, follow the package instructions to prepare each. There are several types of traditional ramen noodles and ramen broths available, imported from Japan. Of these our favorite are these traditional noodles, these ones with egg and this miso broth (affiliate links). You can also explore recipes for homemade ramen and create your own broth in advance. This book is a great start (affiliate link).
4. Prep the rest of the toppings & crisp-up the pork belly. Whatever fresh toppings you chose, prep them and as a final step sear your pork belly slices.
- Slice the green onion thinly, then the radish (you can also cut it into thin sticks), and if using a fresh hot pepper instead of hot sauce, slice it thin.
- In a skillet over medium-high heat brown slices of pork belly to your desired crispiness. You can cut them into bite sized pieces if you prefer, we like the bigger, thicker version you see in the pictures.
5. Assemble the dish. Once you have all your ingredients handy, the table set and any sauces you favor prepared, put together the bowls.
- Place the cooked noodles at the bottom, top with the bean sprouts and other fresh ingredients, add the egg halves and crispy pork belly. Next add the broth – do your best not to ladle it over the pork belly (or it will get soggy fast).
- Sprinkle nori at the very end.
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- 12 oz (about 6 thick slices) of tender, cooked pork belly*
- 6 oz mung bean sprouts
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil (for the bean sprouts)
- 2 tsp soy sauce (for the bean sprouts)
- 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds (for the bean sprouts)
- 3 eggs (cold, straight from refrigerator)
- 3 portions of ramen noodles**
- 5 cups ramen broth (miso, shio, etc)***
- 1-2 sheets nori, to use as topping
- 6 scallions
- 1 watermelon radish (or small daikon radish)
- 1-2 hot pepper (such as jalapeno)****
- In a medium sized pot bring a quart of water to boil and blanche the bean sprouts for just over a minute. Scoop them out and drain them and keep the water in the pot. In a bowl mix sesame oil and soy sauce, add the bean sprouts and the sesame seeds and toss together. Set aside.
- To the same pot with boiling water add the cold raw eggs, lower the heat a bit and cook over gentle boil for 7 mins (runny yolk) or 8 mins (custardy yolk). While the eggs are boiling prepapre an ice bath, then place them immediately in it once the cooking time is up. Discard the boiling water. When the eggs cool down a bit, peel them carefully (whites will be only gently firm). Set aside, you can slice them in half right before serving.
- Prepare the ramen noodles and soup broth according to the package instructions. Keep each one warm.
- Cut up the nori, scallions (green parts only), radish, hot pepper. Set aside.
- In a skillet over medium-high heat brown the pork belly slices, about 1-2 mins per side, until they acquire your desired crispiness.
- To assemble the ramen bowl: place noodles at the bottom, add bean sprouts, scallions, radish, pepper slices. Carefully slice the soft boiled eggs in half, lengthwise. Place on top of the noodles. Add the crispy pork belly on one side of the bowl. Carefully ladle broth over the arrangement avoiding the pork belly so as to not make it soggy before you serve. Top with nori and enjoy!
*You can use oven baked pork belly, braised pork belly or smoked pork belly.
**Use your favorite ramen noodles and follow the gudielines on what amount constitutes a portion.
***Use your favorite ramen soup broth, prepare just over 1 1/2 cup per serving, about 5 cups total.
****Not a traditional garnish but if you'd like to add some heat without using a hot sauce - a nice addition.
To make your own ramen broth in a cinch bring to boil: 5 cups chicken or pork stock, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1/2 tsp grated ginger, 1 tsp minced garlic and soy sauce to taste.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 996Total Fat: 73gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 44gCholesterol: 207mgSodium: 930mgCarbohydrates: 167gFiber: 12gSugar: 14gProtein: 82g