Ramen is Japanese soup made from pork broth, roasted pork, boiled noodles, and various toppings like vegetables, seaweed and egg. For many, the noodles are the main ingredient that the dish revolves around. But Primal ramen puts all the attention on the pork. Slow roasted pork, smoked pork shanks and bacon all play a role in making ramen that’s deeply flavorful and satisfying, even without noodles.
If you’ve traveled to Japan, then you’re familiar with the ubiquitous ramen shop serving steaming bowls of ramen that reflect the shop’s own distinctive style. If you were ever a hungry teenager or college student, then you’re definitely familiar with instant Top Ramen. This recipe is a far cry from instant ramen and not as labor intensive as ramen made in restaurants. It does take a little time to make (most of it hands-off) but suddenly all the ingredients come together. You’re rewarded with delicious steaming broth, tender slices of pork, vibrant collard greens and garnishes of egg, scallions and nori.
If nothing else, what you can take away from this recipe is the immensely flavorful and gelatin-rich broth made from both chicken and pork. It’s smoky, meaty and suitable for almost any type of soup you want to make.
Recipe Note: Before making this recipe, read through the entire list of ingredients for each component to make sure you have everything. This soup is easiest to make over the course of 2 days. Day one, make the broth and roast the pork. Day two, prepare the garnishes and re-heat the broth right before serving.
Time in the Kitchen: 4 to 6 hours of hands-off time, plus 1 hour of active cooking
Ingredients for 4 bowls of Ramen:
- 8 cups ramen broth (see below) (1.9 liters)
- 2 pounds roasted pork butt, sliced thinly (see below) (907 g)
- 1 bunch sautéed collard greens (see below)
- 3 zucchini, cut into very thin, noodle-like strips
- 4 hard boiled or poached eggs
- 2 sheets of nori, 2 cut into strips
- A handful of finely chopped scallions
Instructions for Putting Together Bowls of Ramen:
Before serving the ramen, gently reheat the broth on the stove. Add the zucchini “noodles’ and simmer for five minutes. Pour equal amounts of broth and zucchini into 4 bowls, then add slices of roasted pork, a spoonful of collard greens, an egg, strips of nori and a sprinkle of scallions.
Ramen Broth Ingredients:
- 2 pieces of kombu
- 3 quarts water (3 liters)
- 2 ounces dry shiitake mushrooms, rinsed (57 g)
- 2 pounds of chicken legs, necks and/or backs (907 g)
- 2 to 3 pounds smoked ham shanks or hocks (907g to 1.4 kg)
- 1/2 bunch of scallions, cut in half
- 1 onion, peeled and cut into fourths
- 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
Ramen Broth Instructions:
Combine the kombu with the water in a large stock pot. Bring the water to a simmer then turn off the heat and let the kombu steep for 10 minutes.
Remove the kombu and discard. Add the shiitake mushrooms. Turn the heat up to high and bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat down so the water stays at a simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pot with a slotted spoon and discard.
Add the chicken and pork shanks to the pot. Bring to a simmer. Skim off any foam that gathers on the top. Simmer uncovered for 1 hour, or until the chicken meat pulls easily off the bone.
Remove the chicken (save for another meal) and add the scallions, onions, and carrots and simmer with the shanks for another hour. Replenish the water as needed to keep the meat covered.
Strain the vegetables and shanks from the broth. Discard or eat the veggies and save the meat from the shanks for another meal. Strain the broth again through cheesecloth if you want really clear broth.
This broth can be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated.
Roasted Pork Ingredients:
- 2 to 3 pounds pork shoulder or butt (907g to 1.4 kg)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (10 ml)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 2.5 ml)
Roasted Pork Instructions:
Bring the roast to room temperature and rub it down with the salt and pepper mixture.
Preheat the oven to 250 ºF (121 ºC).
Put the roast in a roasting pan that fits it snugly and roast until the meat is tender and pulls apart easily, about 4 to 6 hours, uncovered, basting every hour or so with juices and fat that accumulate in the pan. Take it out of the oven and let cool completely before slicing.
You’ll have more than enough pork for the ramen. Save leftovers for another meal or freeze it for later.
Collard Greens Ingredients:
- 1 bunch collard greens
- 1 piece of uncooked bacon
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (5 ml)
Collard Greens Instructions:
Remove the leaves from the center rib and stem. Coarsely chop the washed leaves.
In a wide skillet (that has a lid) over medium-high heat, add the piece of bacon. When it is halfway cooked and has released some fat, add the collards to the skillet. Mix well so the leaves are coated in fat. Let the leaves wilt a little then add the sherry vinegar and a 1/2 cup (118 ml) of water. Put a lid on the skillet and simmer over medium-low for 10 to15 minutes or so until tender.
Alternately, the greens can simply be sautéed in olive oil instead of bacon.