Soki Soba (Okinawan Pork Rib Ramen with a Light Dashi Pork Broth)
Despite this being a pork broth ramen, it has a much shorter boil and therefore a lighter flavour and consistency than Kyushu’s standard tonkotsu ramen – in fact, it would probably be classed as a shoyu ramen because it is seasoned with a good glug of soy sauce. This is an iconic dish of Okinawa, famous for its love of pig. 'Soki' means ‘rib’ in the local dialect, and 'soba' is simply an antiquated term for noodles. Of all the ramen recipes in the Nanban cookbook, this is probably the easiest, so if you have a craving and don’t have 16 hours to spare for boiling bones, give it a go.
- For the broth and ribs:
- ½ rack pork loin ribs (about 6 ribs), trimmed of cartilage
- 800–900ml dashi
- 50ml soy sauce
- 1 tbsp awamori, shochu or sake
- ½ leek
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 star anise
- 10g ginger
- 1 dried red chilli
- To serve:
- reserved pork loin ribs
- 100g bean sprouts
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp white sesame seeds
- salt and white pepper, to taste
- reserved broth
- 2 portions medium-thick ramen noodles
- 2 tea-pickled eggs, sliced in half
- 2 nira, finely sliced
- 6 slices takuan/pickled daikon (about 40g)
- chilli oil or chilli vinegar, to taste
- For the Tea-Pickled Eggs (makes 6):
- 6 eggs - get the best quality eggs you can
- lots of ice
- 300ml dashi
- 1 star anise
- 5g lapsang souchong tea (2 teabags)
- 110ml soy sauce
- 50ml mirin
- 50ml rice vinegar
For the Tea-Pickled Eggs:
Bring the dashi and the star anise to the boil. Remove from head and add the lapsang souchong; leave to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain and add the soy sauce, mirin and rice vinegar. Set aside.
Boiling eggs is a surprisingly tricky business. If you have a method that works for you, by all means, use that. But this method always gives me perfect results: the yolks are just set along their outsides and still nice and gooey in the middle. If you are not confident in your egg-boiling and peeling skills, do a test run with a couple of extra eggs before cooking the rest. That way, you should end up with 6 perfect eggs.
First prepare an ice bath: fill a large bowl or container with ice and cover with cold water. Fill a pan, large enough to contain a metal sieve, colander or steamer basket, with water and bring to a rapid boil. Boil the eggs in batches: place a few eggs in your colander or sieve and lower it into the boiling water. Make sure all the eggs are totally covered and that the water temperature doesn't drop too much when you put them in the pot. Boil the eggs for exactly 6 minutes and 20 seconds, then lift them out and transfer them to the ice bath to stop the cooking. Repeat for the rest of the eggs.
Peel the eggs under water and place in the pickling liquid. Marinate for 24-48 hours before using.
For the broth and ribs: Cover the ribs in cold water and bring to the boil to leach out their blood. Discard the water and rinse the ribs, then place them in the dashi along with all the other broth ingredients and bring to the boil. Cover and reduce to a medium simmer, skimming any scum off the surface as necessary. Let them cook for about 2½ hours, until the ribs are quite soft – keep in mind you’ll be eating this with chopsticks and a spoon, so they need to come off the bone fairly effortlessly. Remove and reserve the ribs and pass the broth through a fine sieve.
To serve: Being careful not to tear the meat from the bone, separate the ribs with a sharp knife. Sauté the bean sprouts in the sesame oil with the sesame seeds, salt and pepper for just a few minutes so they retain some of their crunch. Reheat the broth, and the ribs if necessary. Cook the noodles in rapidly boiling water for 1–2 minutes, a little softer than al dente. To assemble: pour the broth into bowls, slide in the noodles, then add the eggs, ribs (about 3 per person), bean sprouts, nira and takuan. Serve with chilli oil or chilli vinegar.