Udon w/ 36-hours Pork Belly

This is a little experiment I did at home the other day. There has been a lot of chatter among chefs on what temperature and how long to cook pork belly to get the ultimate texture. Heston Blumenthal recommends cooking it sous-vide for 36-hours at a temperature of 144’F (62’C) while Nathan Myrvhold in Modernist Cuisine goes as far as cooking it for 72-hours. That’s a long time to wait for lunch so I decided to go with Heston Blumenthal technique first. I improvised a 12-hours pork belly cure that consisted of coriander, star anise, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon and salt. The next day I washed it off and vacuumed the belly with a mixture of sake, mirin and soy sauce, I placed the pouch in the Sous Vide Supreme and forgot all about it for about a day and a half.

Fast forward to the fine morning I was the proud owner of a handsome chunk of sous-vide pork belly. I put a weight on it overnight to compress all those deliciously fatty layers and get the skin as flat as possible so it would crisp up nicely. I opened the bag and scrapped the golden pork gelatin that was as clear as consommé from around the belly and added it to a freshly made dashi, and that became our udon broth.

Some hen eggs went into the Sous Vide Supreme at 147’F (64’C) for 45 minutes , I cooked the udon noodles in the broth with shiitake, enoki mushrooms and some leafy greens. And while that was happening I pan-fried a chunk of pork belly on the skin side and placed the pan in a low oven until meltingly tender.

All those components went into large bowls, with the custardy sous-vide eggs, slices of tender pork belly, and a healthy sprinkle of nori, dried shrimp and hot pepper. Lunch that was three days in the making was finally there, and if there was one word to describe it I think it would be… perfect.

  • Udon w/ 36-hours Pork Belly

    • Serves 6
    • For the sous-vide pork belly:
    • 2 lbs pork belly, skin on
    • 1/4 cup kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, coarsely ground
    • 1 teaspoon star anise, coarsely ground
    • 1 teaspoon cardamom, coarsely ground
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
    • 1/2 stick cinnamon, coarsely ground
    • 1/4 cup sake
    • 1/4 cup mirin
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce
    • For the dashi:
    • 2 quarts water
    • 5  squares (of 6-inches) of dried kombu
    • 1 cup tightly packed bonito flakes
    • For the Udon:
    • 6 handfuls of udon noodles
    • 2 heads of enoki mushrooms
    • 10 shiitake mushrooms
    • 6 organic eggs
    • some leafy greens such as bok choy
    • nori / dry shrimp mix
    • hot pepper
    • For the sous-vide pork belly:
    • Rinse the pork belly and pat dry. In a small bowl combine the salt, and the ground spices. Coat the pork belly with the salt and spice mixture, place in a pyrex dish, cover and refrigerate for 12 to 18 hours.
    • Preheat the sous vide water bath to 144’F (62’C). Wash off the salt cure in cold running water and dry the pork belly. Combine the sake, the mirin and the soy sauce. Vacuum-seal the pork belly in a large bag with the sake mixture. Place the bag in the water bath and set the timer to 36 hours.
    • Remove the pork belly from the water bath and place in a bowl of iced water to cool it down quickly. Do not open the pouch. Refrigerate overnight with a weight on top.
    • Open the bag and scrap off the pork “consommé” from around the belly and use with the dashi (see below).
    • For the dashi / udon broth:
    • Place the squares of kombu in a pot, along with the two quarts of water. Over medium heat, slowly bring the pot of water to a near-boiling point. Remove the kombu. Add the bonito flakes. Wait for a few seconds until the liquid comes to a light simmer and turn off the heat. Let the bonito flakes sink to the bottom of the pot. Strain the dashi through a fine strainer.
    • In a small saucepan melt the pork consommé gelatin. Strain and combine with the dashi to taste.
    • For the Udon:
    • Preheat the sous vide water bath to 147’F (64’C) and place the eggs in the water for 45 minutes.
    • Cook the udon noodles in the broth. Add the enoki mushrooms and shiitake and poach them gently in the liquid. Add the leafy greens.
    • Pan-fry a chunk of pork belly on the skin side until crisp and place in a 325’F oven until tender throughout.
    • Serve the udon + broth in  large bowls. Top with mushrooms, greens, eggs, pork belly slices, nori and hot pepper.
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  • http://willtravelforfood.com/ mayssam @ Will Travel for Food

    Wow, that last photo of the crisp pork belly is such food porn it made me forget everything you wrote prior to it! And now I’m craving crisp pork belly at 10am…

  • http://vanillasugarblog.com vanillasugarblog

    that’s all you really have to post is the photo of the pork belly.  i mean that’s alone is heavenly.
    but i’ll take a side of udon too, if you insist frenchman

  • Margaret

    I’ve been thinking about it, and you may just convinced me to get myself a sous vide supreme.  The pork belly looks freaking amazing! 

  • http://vanillasugarblog.com vanillasugarblog

    what is your grocery bill like?  if i had access to all these groceries, my credit card would be maxed, years ago

  • Tampopo3000

    C’est un véritable bijou !

  • Tasteslikehome

    Words fail me. Just look at that last photograph…

  • Cucina49

    That’s pretty spectacular–makes me want a sous vide machine to play around with–love your experiments with cooking time.

  • http://chasingdelicious.com/winter-days-and-cinnamon-pecan-butter-cookies/ Russell at Chasing Delicious

    Yum! That udon looks scrumptious! Great shot. 

  • http://yireservation.com/ Yi Reservation

    This is definitely one of the most beautiful pork bellies (cooked) I’ve seen. It’s making me drool like crazy!

  • Anonymous

    What I write is just blah-blah. Just focus on the food. :) 

  • Anonymous

    I mean.. you don’t have to have the noodles. They just there to make the photo pretty. 😛

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Margaret. The sous-vide supreme is a lot of fun!

  • Anonymous

    Merci trois mille fois, Tampopo!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Russell.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you! It’s a lot of fun.

  • Anonymous

    I guess I should have put that photo first!

  • Anonymous

    Did you just say I look like a pork belly? 😛 Thanks for the compliment!

  • Anonymous

    I asked Santa for the pork belly. He brought it to me all the way from the north pole. Frozen. 

  • eimi

    Very inspiring for my thesis. :)

  • Anonymous

    It’s well known, pork belly is intellect fuel ! :) 

  • http://www.kitchenriffs.com/ kitchenriffs

    That looks soooo good!  Love the bottom picture.  And thanks for doing all this nifty cooking.  I’m not at all close to playing with sous-vide, but I’m thoroughly enjoying your experiments.  It seems like a pretty accessible technique (once you have the equipment, of course).  One of these days!

  • http://www.ouichefnetwork.com Oui, Chef

    Oohhh, that last shot had me licking my screen…such a bad boy.

  • http://www.closetcooking.com/ Kevin (Closet Cooking)

    That is one really nice looking udon soup!

  • Steve

    OMG – can I come for dinner ? 

  • http://udonnoodles.net/ buy udon noodles

    I have been tempted to start making noodles at home but have been so intimidated. I am not good with baking and my attempts at other homemade dough type things like green onion pancake, roti, etc have been utter flops. I love you video and I think you have inspired me to try these udon noodles at home! Wish me luck! 

  • http://www.extravirginchef.blogspot.com/ Extra Virgin Chef

    Just got a Sous Vide Supreme for my birthday, and I have some pork belly in the freezer!

  • Kanako Ohara

    I just wanted to thank you for the recipe, we had it last night (after sous vide-ing the pork belly since Monday) – well worth the wait! ^-^

  • http://www.chimpanzeeteaparty.com/ J.W. Hamner

    Made this last week as my first sous vide dish with my new DIY home setup and it came out great. My pictures aren’t nearly as gorgeous as yours though!

  • Louise Reynolds

    Just found this amazing post so hope you receive my question. Can I ask when you cut the pork into pieces, please? If you did it before curing, that would get more cure into the meat. Or did you cut it after you cured the whole piece and washed off the cure? Would make a difference to amount of time in the cure, I think?