Pork Belly Big Squid Ramen Recipe

The depth of flavor of the pork broth is the true measure of all great bowls of ramen. I particularly like the richness and stickiness of the broth in this recipe, which calls for both pork belly and pig's feet and is prepared in a pressure cooker to concentrate its taste. For the ramen, instead of wheat noodles, I use giant squid, which I roll up, freeze, and then thinly slice. The squid noodles are sweet and slightly springy, just like the best ramen noodles.

From VOLT ink. by Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, Olive Press 2011

Pork Belly Big Squid Ramen Recipe
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  • 1/3 cup plus 4 teaspoons (95 g) canola oil
  • 1 pound pork belly
  • 1 pound chicken necks
  • 1 pound pig's feet
  • 1 cup usukuchi soy sauce
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 3 ounces fresh ginger
  • 2 ounces kombu
  • 11 1/2 cups water
  • 6 giant squid or cuttlefish
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 5 1/4 ounces spinach
  • 4 teaspoons squid ink
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 8 quail eggs
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • fine sea salt
  • micro chives
  1. In the pressure cooker, heat the 1⁄3 cup (75 g) of the canola oil over high heat until it begins to shimmer but does not smoke. Add the pork belly, skin side down, and cook until the skin is golden brown, 5–8 minutes. 
  2. Flip the pork belly over and add the chicken necks, pig’s feet, 2⁄3 cup (213 g) of the usukuchi soy sauce, sliced onion, 2 ounces (56 g) of the ginger, the kombu, and 81⁄2 cups (1913 g) of the water. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, lock the lid in place, bring up to high pressure, and cook for 1 hour. 
  3. Let the pressure dissipate naturally, then uncover. Carefully transfer the pork belly to a shallow baking dish to cool. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a lidded container and let cool. Discard the remaining solids. Store the broth in the refrigerator until serving time.
  4. Lay 1 squid on a cutting board. Remove the tentacles and set aside. Remove the innards from the body tube and discard. Set the ink sac aside. Rinse the tube thoroughly. Carefully pop out the long piece of cartilage on the inside of the tube. Peel the skin off the tube. Rinse the tube again until it is white and clean.
  5. Repeat with the remaining 5 squid. Lay 1 tube out on the cutting board and slice it open from top to bottom. Turn it on its side with the point to the left, and then roll it up into a log. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, twisting the ends of the wrap to compact the squid and create a uniform shape. Repeat with 3 more tubes. Place the wrapped tubes in the freezer for at least 4 hours.
  6. Chop the remaining 2 squid tubes into tiny pieces and place in the Styrofoam cooler. Pour the liquid nitrogen over the squid pieces and stir gently to freeze completely. Put the frozen squid pieces in the blender and process to a fine powder. 
  7. Line a food dehydrator tray or a sheet pan with a silicone mat, and pour the powder onto the mat in an even layer about 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) thick. Dehydrate the squid powder in the dehydrator set at 155°F (68°C) or the oven preheated to 175°F (80°C) until it forms a completely dry sheet, about 4 hours. 
  8. Once the squid sheet is completely dry, break it into 8 roughly equal pieces. The dried squid may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
  9. Alternatively, wrap the remaining 2 squid tubes tightly in plastic wrap and freeze them solid as you did the other 4 tubes. Using a wide rasp grater, finely grate the 2 frozen tubes over the silicone-lined tray, forming an even layer 1⁄4 inch 6 mm) thick, and then dehydrate, break, and store as directed above.
  10. Remove the 4 squid rolls from the freezer, and remove and discard the plastic wrap. Using a sharp mandoline, thinly slice the squid rolls to yield pinwheels. Transfer the slices to a baking dish and refrigerate until thawed.
  11. In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining 4 teaspoons (20 g) canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté until translucent but not browned, 2–3 minutes. Add the spinach and sauté just until it wilts and is tender, 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof colander set over a bowl. 
  12. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much of the water as possible from the spinach. Transfer the spinach to a large piece of plastic wrap, roll up into a tight cylinder about 2 inches (5 cm) long, and twist the ends of the wrap to compact the spinach and create a uniform shape. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  13. In a saucepan, combine the remaining 31⁄3 cups (750 g) water, the reserved squid tentacles, the remaining 1 ounce (28 g) ginger, the julienned onion, the squid ink, and the remaining 1⁄3 cup (107 g) usukuchi soy sauce, place over medium-high heat, and bring to a slow simmer. Cook for 20 minutes. 
  14. Remove from the heat, drain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a clean saucepan, and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced to 11⁄3 cups (300 g), 30–45 minutes. 
  15. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. Remove the reduced liquid from the heat, stir in the vinegar, and transfer to a metal bowl. Set over the ice bath and let cool completely, stirring occasionally and replenishing the ice as needed, about 15 minutes.
  16. Preheat the circulating water bath to 167°F (75°C).
  17. Cook 8 quail eggs (this allows for breakage) in their shells in the circulating water  bath for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. When the eggs are ready, carefully transfer them to the ice bath and let cool completely, replenishing the ice as needed, about 15 minutes. Remove the eggs from the ice bath. 
  18. Using a small egg cutter or small sharp scissors, cut off the top of 1 egg and pour the  contents of the shell into your palm, brushing off any loose cooked egg whites. Slip the egg into the cooled tentacle broth. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Let them marinate for at least 4 hours before serving.
  19. To serve, pour the canola oil into the deep fryer to the fill line or into a tall-sided saucepan to a depth of 21⁄2 inches (6 cm) and heat to 375°F (190°C). Put the broth from cooking the pork belly in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; keep at a low simmer.
  20. In a large sauté pan, heat the 31⁄2 tablespoons (50 g) canola oil over high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the pork belly, turn down the heat to medium, and cook, turning once, until warmed through, 2–3 minutes on each side.
  21. Transfer the pork belly to a cutting board and cut crosswise into pieces about 1⁄8 inch (3 mm) thick. Cut the wrapped spinach roll into 4 equal rounds, each about 1⁄2 inch (12 mm) thick, and remove the plastic wrap. Put the spinach slices into a small baking dish. Pour 1⁄4 cup (56 g) of the hot pork broth over them to bring them up to room temperature. 
  22. Put 1 spinach round into each serving bowl. Arrange 3 pork belly slices on the bottom of the bowl. Using a slotted spoon, remove the quail eggs from the tentacle broth one at a time and place next to the spinach. Divide the thawed squid pinwheels into 6 equal portions. 
  23. Using a small wire skimmer, plunge each portion in the hot broth for 5 seconds and immediately transfer to a bowl, arranging the “noodles” over the pork. 
  24. Add the dehydrated squid pieces to the hot oil and fry until crisp and puffed, about 5 seconds. Using a skimmer, transfer the squid pieces to a paper towel–lined plate to drain briefly, season lightly with salt, and place 2 fried squid pieces in each bowl. 
  25. Pour 7 tablespoons (100 g) of the simmering pork broth into each bowl, garnish each bowl with micro chives and serve right away.
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