My wife recently went to a food expo at the Javitz Center, where she sampled some ramen that contained black garlic oil. She was blown away by it, so naturally I started looking for black garlic oil online. I couldn’t find anything like a bottle of it. But I DID find this on Amazon, so I ordered it:
I figured it can’t be any worse than Maruchan, right? Shit – maybe it would even be good.
So the shipment came. I had a serious hankering for good hearty ramen, REAL ramen, but I didn’t feel like getting back on the train to the city to go find a decent bowl (there’s nothing good out on Long Island in terms of ramen – same goes for pho and Vietnamese food in general). So I decided to doll-up some of this instant ramen with some ground pork and various other cuts of pork.
What you see below is center cut pork chops (top/back), boneless country style pork ribs (center) and pork belly (the ground pork was not pictured). That slab of bacon isn’t anything special either, by the way. My grocery store doesn’t normally sell big hunks of pork belly, so I picked up a $4 package of Hormel brand “salt pork.” I figured if I cooked it correctly, it would taste like the real thing.
So what did I do to the meat? I prepared the pork by using a slow cooker for about 6 hours on low. I filled the pot with about a half cup of soy sauce, 2 Tbsp duck sauce, 2 Tbsp sugar in the raw simple syrup, 2 tsp Chinese 5-spice, a stick of cinnamon along with a few shakes of ground cinnamon, 3 red chili peppers, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tsp ginger powder, a few shakes of garlic powder, 1 tsp Sriracha sauce, a shake of nutmeg, 1 roughly cut scallion shoot, and about 8 or 10 cloves. I whisked it all together with 2.5 pints of water. At first I was thinking this was too much liquid, but as it turns out it was just the right amount. You’ll see why later.
Then all I had to do was wait… But I bore easily. So I went out and got a little drunk with some friends at a local St. Patrick’s Day parade. There’s nothing quite like day-drinking. My wife was at a baby shower, so I would have just been sitting around playing with myself or watching horror flicks anyway. She picked me up after the shower and the timing was perfect. I came home to this, which I scooped out of the slow cooker:
I tasted it. Holy shit. Fucking perfect! Four beers and two shots didn’t take me off my cooking game, either. With all that excess slow-cooker liquid that I thought was too much, I decided to make a concentrated reduction to use later on as a dressing of sorts for plain noodles, or for SOMETHING. I’d figure out a way to use it because it was delicious. But then I had this brilliant idea to make the freeze-dried instant ramen noodles taste better: I boiled them in the slow-cooker liquid as it reduced. As a bonus, the starch helped to thicken the reduction as well.
In the meantime I cooked the ground pork with soy sauce and garlic, and made the ramen broth, which essentially was just the seasoning packets from the ramen package + water + heat. I also sliced some fresh scallions and some baby bella mushrooms for garnish, and sliced some boiled eggs that we already had in the fridge.
When we put it all together, we popped open the little package of elusive black garlic oil. Here’s the end result:
It came out a slight bit salty, so next time I will adjust seasonings accordingly. But if I ordered this in a NYC ramen shop for $15 I would be none the wiser that it was made with instant packets, and I would love it.