This recipe exemplifies “WHY” I love to cook! Calling for unfamiliar ingredients and new techniques, all leading me to new discoveries at the Asian market. I know these are the same things that will prevent many from making this recipe!
Starting as a kid, with the Time Life Foods of the World cookbooks, food has always allowed me to explore unknown places and cultures, without leaving my kitchen. The pictures, the recipes and finally; the meals, opened me up to new taste experiences. Luckily, the shrinking world (and Food TV) has made it easier to find “exotic” spices, seasonings, herbs, fruits and vegetables, that were a struggle to locate 30 years ago.
I am a big fan of warm, comforting bowls of broth, meat and noodles. They taste especially good after a week on the road, eating the nightly “specials” at some non-descript hotel! When this recipe showed up in my in box from Food 52, I knew I had to make it. It was originally posted by a food blogger from Hawaii, Gingerroot. The three day prep time, an extra trip to the Asian market and using every stock pot I own, were all worth it. This is absolutely delicious. I am excited that I have extras in the freezer, waiting for me to return from the next road trip!
Unlike most of my posts, I am not going to include detailed, step by step instructions. Food 52 did an amazing job, so refer to the link if you need help.
Spicy Sesame Pork with Noodles
- 3 pounds meaty pork neck bones – I used Pork Shanks
- 1 medium onion, rough chopped
- 2 medium carrots, preferably organic, scrubbed and rough chopped
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 smoked ham hock
- 5 whole cilantro plants, including roots, well washed – I used one bunch of Cilantro
- 5 whole scallions, including roots, well washed
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Brown pork bones in a little oil, on both sides, over medium heat, in a large stock pot, that will fit in the oven. Cook about 15 minutes. Add carrots and onions to pan, piling vegetables on top of the bones. Roast for 30-45 minutes, until vegetables begin to char around edges and bones begin to caramelize. Add 14 cups water. Water should be covering bones by about an inch. Be sure and scrape up all browned bits from the bottom of pan.
In a small bowl, whisk tamarind paste, tomato paste, and 2 tablespoons water from the stockpot. Whisk this mixture into the stockpot. Heat stock over medium-high heat until nearly boiling, and then reduce to a slow simmer. Continue simmering (uncovered) for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, using a sieve, strain out vegetables, pressing down on solids so liquids go back into stockpot. One at a time, carefully take out bones and put them on a plate near your stockpot. Using small tongs and a fork (or two forks) remove the meat. Transfer meat (should have between 3-4 cups depending on how meaty your bones were) to a container with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate. Return bones, including cartilage and fat, and any liquid that may have accumulated on the plate, to stockpot. Continue simmering for 1 hour. At this point, you can allow mixture to cool slightly before refrigerating overnight. The next day, remove congealed fat layer from surface of stock before simmering for a final hour, adding the smoked ham hock, whole cilantro plants and scallions. Strain out hock and aromatics with a sieve, pressing down on solids to allow liquids back into stock. Repeat cooling and refrigerating step.
Alternatively, you can make the stock in one day by adding the smoked hock and aromatics after three hours of simmering (skipping the extra overnight in the fridge), and continue cooking for the final hour. Cool stock enough to refrigerate overnight (see above in step 8).
Seasonings For the Soup
- 14-16 ounces rice vermicelli (from an Asian market or section of the grocery store – Do not substitute gluten free rice noodles) *Feel free to substitute your favorite Asian noodle instead, such as ramen
- 1/2 cup chopped green onion
- 1/2 chopped cilantro
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 4 cups shredded Savoy or Napa cabbage
- 3 cups reserved pork meat, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Aka (Red) Miso paste found in the Japanese section of an Asian market or some grocery stores
- 1-2 tablespoons Gochujang** (fermented Korean chili paste) found in the Korean section of an Asian market or some grocery stores
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/4 cup Katsuo Furikake (Roasted Sesame Seed and Dried Bonito mix) *found in the Japanese section of an Asian market or some grocery stores
Take stock out of refrigerator and remove congealed fat layer from the surface of soup (stock should be more like jelly than liquid).
Heat stock over medium-high heat until nearly boiling, and then reduce to a slow simmer.
If you have them, use a suribachi (ceramic Japanese mortar with rough grooves on the inside of the bowl) and surikogi (wooden pestle) to grind katsuo furikake into a paste. If you do not, a regular mortar and pestle will also work. Add ½ t sesame oil midway through grinding to help mixture come together.
When almost all of the sesame seeds are mashed, add in 1 T of gojuchang. If you know you love heat, add 2 T. As you turn the pestle around the mortar, the gojuchang will ball up around the sesame seed mixture. Whisk this into the stock and allow soup to simmer for 20 minutes. If there is still a lot of sesame-gojuchang paste stuck in the mortar, add a little bit of stock to the bowl, stir, and pour mixture into the pot.
Turn off heat.
Place miso paste in a small bowl and whisk in enough hot stock (2-3 T) to liquefy the miso. Pour this into stock and stir to incorporate. Allow mixture to cool and refrigerate overnight.
Finishing the Soup
Remove your soup from the refrigerator and slowly heat it up.
In another pot, cook rice vermicelli according to directions on the package, and then drain in a colander, rinsing with some cold water to stop the noodles from cooking.
In a skillet large enough to hold pork and cabbage, heat sesame oil over medium heat.
Add chopped pork and stir to heat through. Add cabbage and stir to take off raw edge. Turn off heat, stir in balsamic and a pinch of salt.
Portion rice noodles into soup bowls.
Top each bowl with pork and cabbage.
Ladle steaming broth over each bowl.
Generously add chopped green onions and cilantro to each bowl and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Thanks for visiting. Have a wonderful evening!
**Gochujang – Awesome Korean Spicy condiment. A little sweeter than Siricha.