A rich pork-based broth with Asian flavours, packed full of noodles, crispy slow cooked pork and curry spiked cubes of roast butternut.
When I was younger, I had a classic on-again off-again relationship that was full of drawn out break ups and dramatic reunions. Eventually I began to notice a pattern; every time this ex-boyfriend was about to break up with me, he would cook me the exact same dinner beforehand. I don’t know if this was intentional, but the third time I was served up steak, mashed potatoes and carrots I silently fumed while we ate and waited to see if the pattern would repeat. Sure enough, another breakup shortly ensued. In hindsight, there was some merit to his strategy – I’m certainly a lot easier to deal with when I’m not hungry! It did take a while before I could eat steak without the feeling of impending doom though…
Luckily for my loved ones, I don’t use my home cooking to soften the blow of bad news; I just enjoy having someone else to feed. Finding the motivation to cook can be difficult when you’re only feeding yourself, but knowing that another person will enjoy and appreciate it makes all the difference. While Mischa is generally happy to leave the menu to me, sometimes I’ll receive a link to a recipe with a “please make this” note. His most recent request is for Half Baked Harvest’s “Crockpot Crispy Caramelised Pork Ramen Noodle Soup with Curry Roasted Acorn Squash“. With the temperature in London finally dropping to appropriate autumn levels, this is the perfect week for eating a warming bowl of flavourful soup.
Since we are a home without a crockpot, I’ve adapted the recipe to cook on the stovetop.
This step is optional, but browning the meat before immersing it in the liquid adds more depth of flavour to the soup.
If you can’t find shiitakes, white button or brown chestnut mushrooms will also do the trick.
I picked up these Japanese style ramen noodles at a small Asian grocery store, but many large supermarkets also stock them in the international aisle or near the instant noodles.
Half Baked Harvest’s original recipe includes instructions for curry roasted acorn squash, which makes a delicious ramen topping. Omit the sugar if preferred – I found my roast butternut was sweet enough naturally.
- 1.2 kg pork shoulder roast
- 1 T rice bran or vegetable oil
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup + 2T salt reduced soy sauce
- 1/4 cup + 2T rice wine vinegar
- 2 T fish sauce
- 2 T thai red curry paste
- 1 T fresh ginger finely diced
- 1 T tamarind paste can sub for juice of 1 lime
- 2 star anise
- 1 t cracked black pepper
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 125 g fresh shiitake mushrooms can sub for button or chestnut mushrooms
- 2 T sesame oil
- 2 t liquid honey
- 640 g ramen noodles
- Additional toppings of your choice e.g. soft boiled egg, spring onion, julienned carrot, coriander, chillies, toasted sesame seeds, cubes of roast pumpkin.
In a large pot with a lid, combine stock, water, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup vinegar, fish sauce, curry paste, ginger, tamarind (or lime), star anise, and black pepper.
Heat rice bran oil in a frying pan over a med-high heat, and brown the pork shoulder for a minute on each side.
Transfer pork into the stock liquid, cover and cook over a low heat on the stovetop for 4-5 hours until meat is tender and falling apart.
Remove pork from stock and when cool enough to handle, shred the meat and set aside.
Halve or quarter any of the larger mushrooms, leaving the smaller ones whole, and add to stock.
Heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add half the shredded pork. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of honey over the pork, then stir to combine.
Let the bottom of the pork begin to crisp and brown, then remove from the pan and repeat with the other half.
When ready to serve, remove and discard the star anise. Add the ramen noodles to the simmering stock and cook according to directions on the packet (generally 3-4 mins).
Divide soup, noodles and pork into bowls and garnish with your choice of toppings.
Adapted from recipe by Half Baked Harvest