Easy 5-Step Chashu Recipe to Top off Your Homemade RamenIn a ramen restaurant, it is often expected that in a bowl of ramen noodles, there should be chasu .
Some people say, “If there is no chashu with the noodles, I don't consider it ramen." or “Chashu is the soul of the ramen and is absolutely essential”.
For some people, the importance of chashu is the same, or even more, than the broth.
For the chashu lovers out there, here are 3 little known facts about chashu:
The origin of the word “chashu" is actually Chinese and it literally means, fork-roasted (pork).
However, the Japanese meaning of the word refers to braised pork in general.
In ramen restaurants of Japan, it is rare to find an oven to roast pork, so the Japanese counterpart of “chashu” is boiled in a pot instead.
The root of this confusion most likely stemmed from popular culture. In the west, “chashu” is more widely known as the braised and boiled one found on your Japanese ramen, obscuring the original root and preparation method of this Chinese word.
2. You need to tie the pork up with cooking twine or thread before cooking chashu.
The parts of pork that are used for chashu are pork belly or pork shoulder. These parts of the meat contain red meat and fat, which tend to separate when cooked. In order to prevent this, you need to tie the pork.
With this method, you can lock up the flavour and moisture inside the chashu so it becomes tender and juicy once cooked.3. You can use chashu in other dishes (not just ramen)
Chashu is known as a one of the most famous ramen toppings, but you can use it for a variety of other dishes. For example, you can use chashu in fried rice. You can dice the chashu and put it with your fried rice! You can also use chashu for chashu-don, salad, and sandwiches.
Now that we've gotten a little more familiar with chashu, let's get our hands dirty and try to make it by ourselves from scratch! Anyone up for the challenge?
I've got some smart tips to make a tasty and very juicy chashu.
These tips have been accumulated throughout the years from mistakes I've made while making chashu.
1. Use different pork meat parts depending on how tender you want your chashu to be
The tenderness goes like this...
Pork belly (most tender) > pork shoulder > pork loin (least tender)
Red meat that doesn't have a lot of fat tend to be more tough. So, if you want a juicy and soft chashu, pick meat that has some fat.
2. Let the meat absorb the flavour of the marinade quickly and effectively by putting it into a fridge
The quickest way for the marinade to soak into your chashu is while it is cooling down.
3. Parboil pork to make it tender
The key point here is not to cover the boiling pot as the temperature will get too high. Maintaining a consistent 95C (203F) is optimal for the best and juiciest chashu.
4. Tie the pork
There are 3 main reasons why the pork should be tied up:
Heat can be evenly distributed
You roll and tie the pork in a circular shape, so it stays nice and round
Stays intact while boiling instead of breaking off into chunks
5. Do not pan-fry before boiling your chashu
Some Japanese say that during the chashu-making process, it is better to pan fry the surface of the raw pork before boiling it. They claim that this will shut in the moisture, oil and umami flavour.
However, from my personal experience and learning from my mother, I find that not frying the surface actually yields a better outcome.
After frying, the piece of meat has a stronger pork smell and the texture of the meat becomes harder than the chashu that was not initially pan-fried.
One theory for this result is that the white foam skim that floats onto the top of the boiling chashu mixture cannot come out if the pork has been previously fried as the surface is blocked. I find that chashu that has not been previously treated by pan-frying, comes out softer and juicier.
Curious as to what the result for each one is? Why not try both ways and see which one you like better.
6. Use vineger when you boil pork but not mirin
The acidic nature of vinegar helps break down meat fibres making it soft and porous. Adding mirin hardens the meat and adding soy sauce dries out the meat, which is inconsistent to what we are trying to achieve - tender and moist chashu.
7. Use garlic, ginger and only the green part of a Japanese green onion when you boil pork
The compounds found in these ingredients actually contain a chemical that help break down unpleasant smells, a perfect and natural way to get rid of the pork smell.
Only the green part of the Japanese green onion is used as Japanese people usually don’t like the white part as it melts while being boiled.
Some people say that this way of making chashu with lean meat, like pork ham or chicken, using the above method can dry out the meat quickly.
I will be also sharing a steaming method which locks in the moisture of the meat and keeps it juicy and tender.
Chicken leg meat OR Pork ham meat 500g
Ginger 3 slices
Garlic 2 cloves
Japanese green onion (green part only) 1
Other: Thick thread or twine
Soy sauce 200cc/mL (or 6.7fl oz)
Sake 250cc/mL (or 8.5fl oz)
Sugar 1 spoon (Brown sugar can be used as a substitute)
1. First tie the piece of meat.
2. Take one tablespoon of salt and rub it evenly over the surface of the meat and leave it in the fridge for 20 minutes
3. Steam the meat with ginger, negi, garlic and 50mL of sake in a boiling pot of water. To check whether the meat is cooked throughly, poke a fork into the meat.
The meat juice that comes out should be transparent and not red.
Approximate cooking times: Chicken - 30mins / Pork - 40mins
4. While we are waiting for the meat to cook, we will make the sauce. Combine 200mL of soy sauce, 200mL of sake and 1 spoon of sugar in a shallow sauce pan and heat up in medium heat.
5. Turn off the heat once the mixture reaches boiling.
Once the meat is completely cooked, soak the meat into completely cooled homemade marinade and leave it in the fridge overnight.
(When properly refrigerated, your chashu should last 7 days)
Now that you've just learned how to make succulent and juicy chashu, you're going to want to show it off to family and friends when they come over during ramen night.
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