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.
There are several types of vegetables that can be used to mimic noodles (spaghetti squash, zucchini) but none do it as well as celeriac. Peeled strands of this rugged root will cook to al dente in less than 3 minutes, making a fine bowl of faux fettuccine.
Celeriac noodles can be topped with any of your favorite sauces, but are especially good with this parsley pesto that matches the clean, fresh flavor of the noodles. Celeriac (also called celery root) has an herbal, pleasantly bitter flavor that will remind you of both celery and parsley. The flavor is stronger when raw and quite mild when cooked.
You’ll taste a bold blend of ginger, garlic, lemongrass and the sweet/salty flavor of coconut aminos in every bite of these intensely flavored and aromatic strips of beef. Served with crispy coconut-sesame kale on the side, this is perfect party finger food and pretty great as a main course, too.
If you haven’t cooked with coconut aminos before, think of it as a soy-free, gluten-free replacement for soy sauce and tamari. Made from aged coconut sap and sea salt, the flavor is both sweet and salty. It doesn’t taste like soy sauce, but has the same mysterious umami quality that adds an interesting dimension of flavor. It’s great with beef and also works well as a marinade for fish.
Buttermilk is a marinade that pork responds to beautifully. Soak pork chops in buttermilk and the meat will stay juicy and tender, even if you overcook it just a bit. Overcooking a pork chop is easy to do. One minute it’s red and juicy and the next minute it’s tough and chewy. So if you tolerate dairy and hate a dry chop, then buttermilk can be your go-to marinade for pork (it works well for chicken too).
A buttermilk marinade is especially helpful when cooking thin, boneless chops. You know, the ones that curl up around the edges and usually have the texture of a rubber tire. But even thick succulent pork chops with a flavorful bone holding the meat together can benefit from a soak. It’s some combination of the buttermilk’s mild acidity and calcium content that works the tenderizing magic.
A warm bowl of chicken soup is thought to cure whatever ails you, in body and spirit. Add fresh ginger root and a kombu leaf to the pot, and the soup is even more nourishing.
Ginger warms the body, potentially giving your immune system a kick-start during cold and flu season. It also has a tradition of calming gastrointestinal distress. While ginger lets itself be known in this soup with its subtle but spicy flavor, kombu is a stealth ingredient. This dried sea vegetable enhances the flavor of broth and leaves behind a wealth of minerals without adding a “seaweedy” flavor.
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