Do you ever go into a grocery store hungry and come out with way more than what you actually needed?
Yeah, welcome to my life.
I went to the store with my mom the other day and found myself drooling over all of the food magazines in the check out aisle as she paid for her groceries. I couldn't put them down--the recipes looked so fantastic and I was just. so. hungry.
She caught me looking at one called Slow Cooker Revolution, and like-mother-like-daughter, stopped unloading her groceries to come and look at the beautiful pictures with me. French onion soup, homey chicken stew, red-wine braised short ribs--we were flipping through those pages like we had never seen anything better. So we bought two. One for each of us. (Don't judge.)
The Japanese Pork and Ramen Soup caught my eye specifically for this week (you know how much I love asian food) and so Husband and I spent new years weekend just the two of us, cooking and eating and drinking champagne. It was lovely. The soup turned out really well too, although I have to give you a few notes in case you drool over it like I did:
First, the original recipe calls for pork ribs but we used pork shoulder. I liked the pork shoulder and it worked just fine, but I would definitely try the ribs if I can find them next time. I think they would give a heartier flavor with the bone in and maybe even a more tender piece of pork.
Second, I would definitely only cook enough noodles for how many people you're serving. For example, if you're like us and are just eating for two, I would make one packet of ramen noodles and divide it between two bowls. Then the next day when you're ready to eat leftovers I would boil more noodles and divide those up similarly. I would not add the noodles to the whole batch or to the slow cooker at all; they will get very soggy, especially when they've been sitting in the fridge for two days.
Also keep in mind: not all slow cookers are created equal. This recipe gives you cook time estimates, but your soup may be done sooner than you think depending how your slow cooker works. Just make sure you check on it!
Japanese Pork and Ramen Soup
Adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution
Cook time: 6-8 hours on low, 5-7 hours on high
2 onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3-4 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
1 1/2 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs, trimmed
2 3-ounce packages ramen noodles, packages discarded
1/2 small cabbage, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons white miso, plus extra for serving
2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus extra for serving
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Sambal to taste (optional)
Salt and pepper
Microwave* onions, garlic, ginger, and oil in a large bowl, stirring often until onions begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Place in slow cooker, and add in broth and shiitakes. Season pork with salt and pepper and gently lay it in the broth. Cover slow cooker and cook until pork is tender (check cook time estimates above).
When pork is about done, bring water for the ramen to a boil and cook noodles until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside. Transfer pork to a cutting board and using two forks to pull meat apart, shred pork into bite sized pieces. Remove fat from the top of the soup in the slow cooker, then add in cabbage and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir in shredded pork, miso, soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil and let sit until heated through. Season with additional miso and soy sauce to taste. Remove shiitakes if you don't want to eat them, or cut them into slivers and add back in if you do. Add noodles separately to soup bowls and then pour the soup over the noodles. Serve with sliced scallions, sesame seeds, and a small spoonful of sambal.
*Microwaving your fragrant ingredients (like onions and garlic) rather than using a skillet to cook them saves time and also helps to jump-start the cooking process quickly so the vegetables don't end up under-done in the slow cooker.