The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear, for a newer and richer experience.
“Joy in the journey” describes Sunday evening meal preparation at Andersen casa. The “destination” – a fantastic meal – is only one part of the equation. The fun begins when the family gathers to cook together. We fondly refer to this time as “Sunday funday” and “Cigar Sunday.” Evan (31), Gaelen (26), and I were inspired by a recipe prepared recently by my cousin and soul-sister, Jennifer, for tsukemen noodles. Jenn had posted a photo on Facebook a few days earlier for her delicious-looking version of this dish. She sent me a link for Tsukemen Noodles by Just One Cookbook, and we went to work adapting her recipe to work with our locally available ingredients and preferences. The resulting dish was spectacular!
Umami flavors of pork, shiitake, miso, and mentsuyu will please your palate in this comforting and healthy noodle soup.
60 minPrep Time
15 minCook Time
1 hr, 15 Total Time
- 12 ounces pork belly or lean uncured bacon, diced
- 2 tsp. minced garlic (6-8 cloves)
- 2 inches fresh ginger, frozen, peeled, and grated
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
- 8 ounces fresh shiitake, stems removed, and sliced
- 1 tbsp. chili paste (such as Huy Fong Vietnamese Chili Garlic Paste)
- 6 cups water
- 1 cup Mentsuyu (Japanese soup base - click for recipe )*
- 1 tbsp. miso (any color)
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. rice vinegar (or to taste)
- 2 lbs. pork, sliced very thin
- 6 scallions, chopped
- 3.5 ounces enoki mushrooms
- 6 cups bean sprouts
- 6 baby bok choy, sliced lengthwise, and steamed 2 minutes
- 24 ounces fresh soba noodles, cooked, rinsed with cold water, and set aside*
- 6 eggs, hard boiled, soft boiled, or poached (optional)**
To a large dutch oven on medium-high heat, add pork belly or bacon, garlic, and ginger. Stir until the fat is rendered. If very much fat covers the bottom, remove most of it.
Add sesame oil, shiitake, and chili paste. Stir-fry 2-3 minutes, being careful to not burn the ingredients. Lower heat if necessary.
Add water, mentsuyu, miso, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Decrease heat to low. Allow the soup to simmer while you prepare the toppings.
When the toppings are prepared, and you are nearly ready to serve, add the thin sliced pork. You don't want to overcook it by adding too soon.
Place prepared toppings in appropriately sized prep bowls, and arrange near serving area.
Using large soup bowls, place desired toppings in the bowl. Ladle soup over the toppings.
Prepared mentsuyu is available at Asian markets, or you can click the link to make your own.
*We LOVE runny eggs, so I prefer to serve this dish with runny egg. After adding toppings and soup to the bowl, crack and scoop the contents of the soft egg over the top. You may choose to serve with a bowl of hard cooked egg sliced in half lengthwise, or top with a poached egg cooked to your preference.
- Nami’s recipe calls for pork belly. Pork belly is a fresh, uncured cut from the belly of the animal. Uncured, all-natural bacon makes a great substitute for pork belly as it is essentially the same cut sliced into strips.
- I used fresh soba noodles found at a nice Asian market 60 miles away. It think this dish deserves fresh noodles, and you can use fresh ramen, udon, lo mein, or stir-fry noodles instead…
- The Mentsuyu (Japanese soup base) requires kombu (edible kelp sold in sheets) and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). There really are no substitutes. Since these are “building blocks” for Japanese cooking, I try to keep them in the pantry. The nearest Asian market is 60 miles away in El Paso, TX., so I keep a list in my iPhone OurGroceries app that is specific to the Asian market.
- If you can’t find a specific ingredient, think about “flavor profiles” for a substitute. With this Asian dish, you can use sugar snap or snow peas, shredded carrots, oyster mushrooms, etc. You can use fresh ramen or other fresh Asian noodles in place of the soba. I recommend sticking pretty closely to the recipe when creating the broth, though.
A Few Photos: