I'm still alive..!
I guess I should start off by apologizing for my absence (sorry!) but I've been pretty busy. Life in general, school, family...and did I mention school? I have 11 tests in 14 days in my last 2 weeks of school. Yes - shoot me now.
I'm still in the kitchen everyday but I've been cooking a lot of my old favorites and improving my fundamentals. Cooking for the blog is great and all but I feel that you don't really get a feel for how the dish should really turn out by just making it once. Also, blogging was starting to feel like a job and that told me I needed to take a break. I hope everyone enjoyed the Wordless Wednesday posts while my mojo came back!
Aside from cooking old favorites, I've been eating out more than usual searching for "happy foods" (thanks C). You know - foods that make you happy while and after you eat them. One of my most favorite happy foods? Tonkotsu ramen. Good ramen can do wonders for the soul with its deep, complex, creamy broth and the succulent pork (chashu) that comes on top is better than icing on the cake (random full disclosure: I actually don't like icing).
Finding ramen - that's not from a packet - in my college town is, I want to say, impossible and while I'd like to make my own, I know it won't turn out the way I want the first time. Making the tonkotsu broth is an art and I don't have the time right now to give it the proper respect it needs. Maybe in the summer when I'm not drowning in school!
Unlike the ramen however, the chashu I can make at school. Chashu isn't like char siu which you may have seen in Chinese restaurants. Japanese chashu is actually braised instead of being barbecued so it's soft, tender and moist. I looked to my blog friend/Japanese cuisine master/knows every single ingredient on earth Em from Kitchen M for a recipe. Like most Asian recipes, there was no recipe but I got a rough outline from Em so I put it into action. I was pleased with how my pork belly turned out but it's something I'll have to make again and again to get it right. Practice makes perfect and as far as cooking goes - I'm far from it!
Chashu Recipe (as of 04/08/10)
Recipe Outline by Em from Kitchen M
- 1 lb pork belly, skin off
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 3/4 cup sake
- 1/2 cup mirin
- 1/4 cup water
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 2 inch knob of ginger, peeled
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1) Combine everything but the pork belly in a skillet/small pot. Bring up to a boil.
2) Add the pork belly into the braising liquid and turn the heat down until it's at a gentle simmer. Braise the pork belly for 45 - 50 minutes until cooked through. Flip the pork belly every once in awhile to make sure it gets braised evenly.
3) Remove to a plate and let it rest for 8 - 10 minutes if serving right away.
4) Slice against the grain and place on top of ramen or rice! I made a quick shoyu tamago using the leftover soy sauce liquid from the pork belly. Boil the egg for 4 minutes and then shock with cold water. Carefully remove the shell and poach the egg for 2 - 3 minutes in the soy sauce liquid until done.