AIP Pork Belly “Ramen” – Paleo/Gluten-Free

I am a huge fan of Japanese food, and one of my favourites is Ramen.  Not the icky, cheap, packets of ramen you can buy in the grocery store, that are really nothing more than a chemical-shit-storm in a packet.  I am talking REAL ramen….

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The problem is that ramen noodles are made with wheat.  And the broth usually contains soy.  2 things I cannot eat…

The solution is to make my own using spiralized zucchini as the noodles, and a rich flavourful pork bone broth infused with AIP friendly Asian flavourings.  The broth is made with a pigs foot, and has that sticky, rich quality that you only get from a gelatin rich bone broth…

The pork belly is a simpler form of the AIP Crispy Pork Belly that I have posted about in the past.  The only difference in this case was that the pork belly I had happened to buy was not in one piece and I did not marinate the pork before cooking it as I felt that the finished dish would be flavourful enough without it…

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This recipe does take a fair bit of forward planning if you are going to make the broth, but if you had some chicken bone broth stashed in the freezer you could always use that instead….  it probably would not be quite as good as if you made this broth, but it will still be very good!

Don’t be dismayed by the long list of ingredients or the time that this takes to make – the results are worth it!

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You will most probably have far too much broth – that is OK, just store it in a mason-jar in the fridge or freeze it for another time.

AIP Pork Belly “Ramen”

Serves 2

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For the Asian Pork Broth:

  • 1 pigs foot – split in half
  • 1lb meaty pork neck or back bones
  • 1 onion – halved (no need to peel)
  • 1 stick celery – chopped
  • Trimmings from 1 fennel bulb (optional – this provides a slight aniseed flavour not unlike star anise)
  • ¼ cup dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 garlic cloves – peeled but left whole
  • 1″ chunk of root ginger – peeled and sliced into discs
  • a piece of Kombu (Dried kelp), 3″ x 1″ – optional
  • Stems from parsley and cilantro
  • 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar

For the Pork Belly:

For the Ramen Noodle Soup:

  • 2 medium sized zucchini – spiralized using the finest blade (I use this spiralizer)
  • 2oz crimini/baby bella mushrooms – sliced
  • 2oz enoki mushrooms – trimmed
  • 2oz sliced bamboo shoots
  • 2 green onions – chopped
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • Coconut Aminos to taste

To make the broth:

The first thing that needs to be done is to get the pork broth made.  This is best started a day or two ahead of when you plan to make the ramen.

Soak the shiitake mushrooms in some boiling water for 1 hour.

While this is happening, place the pigs foot and the pork bones in a large pan and cover with cold water.  Bring the water just to a simmer but do not allow the water to boil.  Skim off any scum that forms on the surface of the broth.  Do not skip this step as this helps to make the broth nice and clear.  Boiling the broth will allow the impurities in the scum to mix back in with the broth, and this will make it cloudy.  After about 20 minutes of simmering, no more scum should be forming.

Now add the mushrooms and the soaking liquid, and all the remaining broth ingredients to the pot.  Return to a simmer, and continue to cook for around 8 hours, topping up the liquid as necessary to keep the bones covered.

Strain out any solids, and transfer the broth to the fridge to cool, where it should set to a firm jelly with a thick layer of fat on top.  Remove the solidified fat from the top of the broth, and save it for cooking, or use it to cook the pork belly.

Cooking the pork belly:

The next step is to cook the pork belly.  This also needs to be started the day before you plan to serve the Ramen Noodle Soup.

Take the pork belly and score the skin with a very sharp knife, taking care not to cut into the flesh.  It does not matter if your pork belly is all in one piece or is in several small pieces as mine was.

Place the pork, skin-side up on a rack over the skin and pour over a kettle-full of boiling water.  This firms and contracts the skin and is the secret to getting it really crispy.

Place the pork belly in the fridge and allow it to dry out overnight.  Don’t skip this step – it is essential that the skin is really dry before it is placed in the oven or it will not crisp!

An hour or two before you plan on serving the soup, you need to cook the pork belly.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Melt the lard, coconut oil (or the fat you skimmed off the top of the pork broth), and rub this well into the skin-side of the pork belly.  Sprinkle the skin with salt and rub it in to the scores you cut.

Place the pork belly, skin-side up on a rack over a roasting tin, and place in the oven.

Roast for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F (175°C).  Continue to cook the pork for 15-20 minutes more until it is cooked through, and the juices run clear when pierced with a sharp knife.  At this stage, you can decide if the pork skin is crispy enough for your liking

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If you want it extra crispy, preheat the broiler to high, and broil the pork, skin side up for 30-60 seconds until it is crisp but not burned.

Remove the pork belly, cool slightly and slice into thin slices.

To assemble the ramen noodle soup:

Cut the ends off the zucchini and spiralize them using the smallest blade on a spiralizer.  I have this one.

Place 3-4 cups of the pork broth that you made a day or two earlier in a pan and bring to a simmer.  Taste it, and add coconut aminos as necessary until it tastes just right for you.  Don’t add so much that it is very salty however!

Add the zucchini noodles to the broth and simmer for 3-5 minutes until the noodles are just cooked but not mushy.

Remove the noodles from the broth and divide them beteween 2 soup bowls.

Add the sliced crimini mushrooms and the bamboo shoots to the broth and simmer for 2 minutes to heat through and just cook the mushrooms.

Meanwhile, divide the spinach, cilantro and enoki mushrooms between the 2 bowls.  Pour over sufficient broth to cover the noodles, adding the mushrooms and bamboo shoots.  Add the sliced pork belly on the top and serve at once.

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Eat with chopsticks, using a spoon to slurp up all that delicious broth!

Shared at:  Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable