Chashu (Japanese braised pork belly)


Ramen2

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After posting recipes for the Soft Boiled Eggs and Tonkotsu Ramen Broth, I must post this recipe since Chashu pork is by far the most popular ramen topping.  These Chashu slices are braised pork belly, they are so tender and flavorful and they just melt in your mouth. Cooking time could be long, but the whole process is very easy.

There were two main reasons I wanted to make this myself: (i) at most of the ramen restaurants, each bowl only comes with 2 slices of meat.  If you are a meat eater like me, you will need to order extra meat for an additional cost; (ii) I had two fatty slices one time (90% of fat and 10% of lean meat) and was very disappointed.  Although I was able to exchange for two leaner pieces, I felt embarrassed and was not sure if the restaurant would do something to my meat (you know what I mean!).  Anyways, when making the Chashu myself, I can pick a nice piece that has less fat and I can serve my ramen with 4-5 slices of meat.

Ingredients:

3 pieces
1 cup
1.5 cup
1.5 cup
1 cup
2 tsp
6 Tbsp
2 two-inch knob
2 Whole
2
6 stalks
Pork belly (about 2 pounds each)
Light soy sauce
Mirin
Water
Cooking Wine
Lemon juice
Brown sugar
Ginger
Shallot (cut in half)
Whole garlic (about 12 cloves)
Green onions

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 F.
  2. Lay the pork belly on a chopping board, roll it into a cylindrical tube with skin facing out, and then use butchers’ string to tie the joint tightly. (pictures 1 and 2)
  3. In a large pot, place the pork belly and add water to cover the pork.  Once boiled, drain and remove the scum by rinsing the pork under cold running water.  (picture 3)
  4. Prepare all ingredients, cut shallots, ginger, green onions and peel garlic.  (picture 4)
  5. In a large pot, heat all ingredients over high heat until boiling, then add pork belly (it won’t be submerged). (pictures 5 and 6)
  6. Once boiled, transfer the pot to the oven and cook for 5 hours. Turn pork occasionally.
  7. Let it cool. Once completely cook, chill the pork in the refrigerator. This makes it easier to slice.
  8. When ready to serve, reheat pork belly slices (chashu) in hot ramen soup.
  9. Keep the chashu sauce, you can use the sauce to marinate the soft boiled eggs.

chashu collage

cooked chashu

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream Macaron filling


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This recipe is adapted from Natasha’s Kitchen and I added Swiss meringue to make the filling slightly thicker.  The macaron itself is sweet, so I heavily reduced the sugar amount in the basic Swiss meringue.  So far this is my favorite filling that has a very refreshing taste.  For the macaron recipe, please visit my page “French Macarons“.

Ingredients:

Reduced sugar Basic Swiss Meringue:

1 Egg white
2 Tbsp Granulated sugar

Raspberry Buttercream:

1 cup Fresh raspberries
2 Tbsp Granulated sugar
1 Tbsp Fresh lemon juice
1 Stick Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
1/4 tsp* Salt

* If you use salted butter, then omit salt in your recipe.

Directions:

  1. Place egg white and sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pan of simmering water. (picture 1)
  2. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. You will see the meringue becomes more white and thicker.  Remove from heat and let cool.  (picture 2)
  3. In a small sauce pan, combine raspberries and granulated sugar and cook over medium heat. (picture 3)
  4. Add 1 tbsp of lemon juice.  (picture 4)
  5. Cook until bubbling.  Remove from fire.  (picture 5)
  6. Press the raspberries with a spoon through a fine sieve and discard seeds.  Put the raspberries juice aside and let cool to room temperature.   (picture 6)
  7. In a mixing bowl, beat butter until whipped and white.  Add in Swiss meringue and beat until well blended.  (picture 7)
  8. Add in raspberry juice and beat until whipped and fluffy.  (picture 8)
  9. Add salt and mix until well blended.  Spoon the mixture into the piping bag and pipe the filling onto the macaron half.  Top with another half and press gently so that it looks like a mini hamburger.  (picture 9)

raspberry filling

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Tonkotsu Ramen Broth


Tonkatsu Ramen

I bought a 32-Quart stainless steel stock pot recently, thinking that one day I may deep fry a turkey in this pot. To get good use out of it, I decided to make broth for Tonkotsu ramen. This pot itself weighs 13 pounds, if I fill it with water and ingredients, it’s impossible for me to lift it.  If you have a 24-quart stock pot, it will suffice.

All Tonkotsu broth recipes require 12-18 hour cooking time (the longer the time, the more gelatin develops in the soup), but it doesn’t mean you are stuck in the house for the whole day. I cooked my broth for 6 hours the first day, let cool it and put it in the fridge, then continued to cook it the second day until the broth became thick and milky. One thing I have to mention is the pig fat “fatback”. Fatback will add nice and rich flavors to your broth, but for health concerns, I omitted it.

Ingredients:

7 pounds
5 pounds (about 6 pieces)
1
12
1 thumb size
12
1 pound
Pig trotters (cut crosswise)
Chicken carcasses (small)
Onion
Garlic cloves
Ginger (sliced)
Green onions (white parts only)
Fatback (optional)

Toppings and Garnish for ramen:

Soft boiled eggs
Chashu
Fish cake
Nori (seaweed)
Green onions
Enoki mushrooms

Directions:

  1. Bring a big pot of water to a boil, then put trotters and chicken carcasses in (should have enough water to cover all bones), cook for 5-10 minutes. (picture 1)
  2. Drain the bones and use a knife or chopstick to take out the dark marrow and rinse with cold water. (pictures 2 and 3)
  3. Wash any coagulated blood off from the chicken carcasses with cold water. (picture 4)
  4. Chop onion and peel garlic, then brown them in a pan, the browner the better.  (pictures 5 and 6)
  5. Add all ingredients into a stock pot and fill the pot with water.   Bring it to a boil, then simmer over low heat.  (picture 7)
  6. You may want to skim off the scum that appears on the top with a stainless steel skimmer. (picture 8)
  7. The pot I used is 32-quart, it is big enough to double this recipe.  After cooking the broth for 16 hours over low heat, the broth is opaque with the texture of light cream.  (pictures 9 and 10)
  8. Pour broth through a fine mesh strainer into a clean pot, discard solids.  (picture 11)
  9. Season broth with salt, taste it and adjust as needed.  (picture 12)
  10. (Optional):  If you want your broth to have a rich flavor, add pork fatback directly to your pot as the bones cook.  After an hour, take the fatback out and finely chop it, then whisk some into the soup just before serving.
Tonkatsu broth
  • I found this soy sauce at the supermarket.  Season the broth with a couple tablespoons of soy sauce can enhance the flavor.

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  • Also found this type of fresh ramen, cook noodles according to package directions.

ramen

Japanese Soft Boiled Eggs


Japanese soft boiled eggs

I have made these eggs many times.  They are known as the perfect boiled eggs for Japanese ramen.  It seems hard to get the desired texture but as long as you get the right cooking time, you will have these beautiful and delicious eggs on your plate.

Ingredients for marinate:

1 cup water
1/2 cup sake
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
1 or 2 tbsp sugar

Directions:

  1. Cook the marinate ahead of time and let it cool.  You can store this in a jar and put it in the refrigerator.
  2. Wash eggs, take a thumb tack and pierce a tiny hole in the round end of each egg (I used an oven thermometer). This prevents the egg from cracking. (pictures 1 and 2)
  3. Bring a 2 quart of water to a boil and carefully lower eggs into the boiling water with a stainless steel wire mesh ladle (picture 3) and set the timer to 6 minutes (picture 4).
  4. While the eggs are being boiled, fill a bowl with cold water and add ice cubes.
  5. Once 6 minutes is up, take out the eggs and run under cold water.  Place eggs into iced water for at least 5 minutes.  (picture 5)
  6. Crack the eggs and peel of the shell.  Put eggs into bowl with marinade and refrigerate at least four hours, it is better if you use spoons to weight down the eggs to keep entire eggs submerged under, otherwise turn eggs once or twice.

Sof Boiled Eggs steps

Thai Dressing for Salad (Green Papaya and Romaine Lettuce)


 Thai Salad

My sister made this for me and my husband whenever she came to visit.  She lives on the other side of the world, so I don’t get to see her often.  Last time I saw her was almost 2 years ago, I really missed her Thai salad (and I miss her too :-o).  We are not Thai, but this salad is so different than other standard salads, it’s spicy!!  The hotter the better!  My husband doesn’t like Asian food too much, but this salad became one of his favorites.

Ingredients for the Dressing:

2 Tbsp Fresh cilantro (chopped)
1 Tbsp Fresh minced garlic
1 Tbsp Fresh minced ginger
1 Tbsp Minced shallot
2 Fresh Thai chili
2 Tbsp Brown sugar
2 Tbsp Fish sauce (more or less to taste)
3 Limes
2 Tbsp Lemon juice

Ingredients for the Salad:

1 small Green papaya (julienned)
1 head Romaine Lettuce
¼ cup Roasted peanuts (chopped)

Directions:

  • Prepare all ingredients – chopped cilantro, garlic, ginger, shallot, chili and squeeze juice out from limes and lemon.  (picture 1)
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and add brown sugar, then fish sauce.  (pictures 2 and 3)

Thai salad steps

  • Let the dressing sit for a couple of hours in the fridge to let the flavors fully develop.

Thai dressing

  • Roast peanuts in a toaster oven and chop them.  Set aside.  (Picture A)
  • Peel and seed papaya.  (Picture B)
  • Julienne papaya.  It is better to use a julienne peeler to get a better texture (I didn’t have one, so I grated it). (Picture C)
  • Wash lettuce and chop into bigger pieces.

Thai salad steps 2

  • Pour dressing over papaya and lettuce, and top with roasted peanuts.

Thai green papaya salad

3-Meat Meatballs


3-Meat Meatballs

I have tried using ground turkey to make meatballs but they tend to lack flavor.  The texture is more dense and you need to kick it up a notch by adding a lot of seasonings.  I even tried to mix turkey meat with beef – flavor was a lot better but still couldn’t satisfy my taste buds, that is until today when I made these meatballs with 3 types of meat (turkey, pork and beef).  The combination of meats create an amazing flavor and the meatballs are very juicy.  My kids finished their whole plate tonight.

Ingredients:

1 pound
1 pound
1 pound
1
1 cup
½ cup
4 Tbsp
2½ Tbsp
4 Tbsp
1 Tbsp
2 tsp
2 tsp
2 tsp
Ground Turkey
Ground Pork
Ground Beef
Beaten Egg
Ketchup
Oatmeal
Dried chopped onion
Gralic powder
Light soy sauce
Brown sugar
Dried Oregano
Salt
Black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix the pork, beef and turkey together thoroughly in a large mixing bowl. Stir in all seasoning, then add in beaten egg and mix well.  (pictures 1 and 2)
  3. Stirr in oatmeal, you may want to crumble oatmeal with your hands and mix well.  (picture 3)
  4. Shape meat into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place them on a baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Bake for 20 minutes or until they are just barely cooked through and no longer pink inside.  Do not overbake.  (pictures 4 and 5)
  5. Return meatballs directly in your pasta sauce and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  My home made tomato basil sauce can be found here.

Meat balls steps

You can serve meatballs with spaghetti/pasta, make a meatball sandwich or just eat them with the tomato base sauce.

Meatballs

Lemon Ice Box Cake


Lemon Ice Box Cake

There were two reasons I made this cake yesterday.  First, I wanted to make a cake for my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to celebrate Mother’s Day, however I did not want to spend too much time.  I’m a mother of three, so Mother’s day is also my day :-).  Second, I remembered that my co-worker gave me a bottle of limoncello liqueur which she bought in Italy.  So, I decided to make a lemon ice box cake (no bake cake).  One of my co-workers made this and brought it to the office, and it was a big hit, so I had to ask her for the recipe (I made a few changes from the original recipe).

This cake needs to sit in the fridge for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight, until the cookies have softened.  So, you will need to plan ahead of time.  This cake is so delicious!!

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers!

Ingredients:

1 ¾ cups
8 oz
90g
¼ cup
3 Tbsp
1 tsp
12oz
3
Heavy Whipping Cream
Mascarpone Cheese
Pure Cane Sugar / white sugar
Limoncello Liqueur
Fresh lemon juice
Vanilla extract
Lemon wafer cookies
Zest of 3 lemons

Directions:

  1. Prepare all ingredients. (Pictures 1-4)
  2. Combine heavy whipping cream, mascarpone, sugar, limoncello liqueur, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl.  Mix on low speed to combine and then slowly raise the speed, whisk until it forms firm peaks.
  3. Cut an 8-inch circle of parchment paper and lay it on the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan (this will help you remove the cake from the pan easier).  Begin with a layer of lemon wafer cookies, break cookies to fill spaces between cookies (I prefer just one layer) or overlap cookies to have a solid base. (Picture 5)
  4. Add half of the filling and smooth with a spatula. (Picture 6)
  5. Next, fill another layer of lemon wafer cookies. (Picture 7)
  6. Fill the top of the cake with the rest of the filling and smooth with a spatula. (Picture 8)
  7. Garnish with lemon zest curls. (Picture 9)
  8. Cover and refrigerate overnight.  To serve, run a small sharp knife around the outside of the cake and remove sides of the pan.

Lemon ice box Cake steps

Lemon Ice Box Cake