Insomnia-Style Ramen Toppings

Gladio eating kakuni“Minced meat is the key to every perfect cup of noodles.”

—Gladiolus Amicitia, FFXV

  • 20 grams kombu (dried seaweed)
  • 27 grams katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup mirin, divided
  • 2 pounds pork belly
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 large knob of ginger (about 3 square inches)
  • 2 Japanese green onions (negi) or leeks
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup sake
  • ¼ cup soy sauce

To make the dashi stock:

Put the kombu in a saucepan and cover with 4 cups water. Soak for at least 3 hours.

Place the saucepan over medium heat. Just before boiling, when you start to see bubbles forming around the edges of the pot, remove pan from heat and discard kombu.

Scatter katsuobushi over the surface of the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat.

Let the katsuobushi sink to the bottom, about 10 minutes. Strain the stock through a sieve lined with a paper towel or coffee filter. Gently squeeze to release extra liquid. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze.

To make the kakuni and eggs:

Combine soy sauce, ¼ cup mirin, and ¾ cup water in a plastic bag and place in a sturdy bowl. Refrigerate for later use.

Pound the pork on both sides with a meat pounder, then use your hands to mold it back into its original shape. Cut into 2-inch chunks.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or frying pan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add pork cubes, fat side down, and sear until brown. Once browned, turn and quickly cook all six surfaces until browned.

Push the meat to one side and add sugar to the liquid fat. Stir until it’s a bit caramelized, then toss with the meat until coated. Transfer meat to a large soup pot and add the star anise.

Peel and cut the ginger into thick slices and add half of it to the pot. Refrigerate the other half for later use.

Remove the white part of the onions or leeks and refrigerate for later use. Chop the green part into 2-inch pieces and rinse well to get rid of any sand or dirt between layers before adding to the pot.

Add water to cover the meat and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, carefully submerge eggs using a skimmer or ladle. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. Remove eggs and soak in ice bath for 3 minutes.

While the eggs are soaking, cover the pot and continue to simmer for at least 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Gently peel the soft-boiled eggs, place them in the sauce bag so that they are completely submerged, and close tightly. Transfer to the refrigerator and marinate overnight.

When the meat is done cooking, remove the pieces from the pot and transfer to a paper towel. Drain and discard the cooking liquid and vegetables.

Return the meat to the pot and add dashi stock, ¼ cup mirin, sake, soy sauce, and the rest of the ginger slices. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Remove the lid and cook for 30 minutes more, until sauce is reduced. Transfer meat and sauce to a sealed container and refrigerate overnight.

Slice the leftover white parts of the onion or leeks into thin matchsticks. Slice the eggs in half.

Serve kakuni cubes on top of ramen with the onion pieces and halved eggs.

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