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Easy family favourites with Dominique Woolf: Sesame Ramen with Caramelised Pork

by Dominique Woolf

published on 23 September 2022

As summer here in the UK draws to an end, this sunshine in a bowl will brighten even the rainiest of days. I love it any time of the year, but as the evenings get chillier and I crave something heartier, this is a dish I turn to time and time again. Creamy, spicy, sweet and savoury  – these noodles hit every note, and then some.

The secret lies in the paste – a combination of Thai red curry paste (be sure to use a good quality Thai brand), tahini and ginger. It might sound entirely unusual but it all comes together in glorious harmony to create the most incredible flavour base. I often make double the amount and store it in the fridge for the next time – always a lovely surprise when I’m rooting around for some midweek inspiration and realise half the job is already done.

When I was preparing for the photographic challenge on Jamie Oliver’s Great Cookbook Challenge, I knew this recipe would be perfect. Not only does it wow in terms of taste, but the different textures, colours and shapes make for a gorgeous photo. In this episode we had just half an hour with Georgia Glynn-Smith, a top food photographer, to create a double-page spread worthy of a publishing deal. The dish itself was a hit with the judges, and the resulting photo is one of my Instagram page’s most popular posts.

This recipe does have several elements and if pushed for time you could omit the pork and just have the noodles and broth with some veg, perhaps adding some cooked prawns or leftover chicken if you happen to have any. However, if you can afford the extra few minutes then you’ll be glad you did – the sweet-salty caramelised deliciousness of the pork is entirely addictive. If you don’t eat pork, then tofu is a brilliant alternative. Simply crumble a block of firm tofu into the pan with the spring onions, ginger, garlic and chilli. For a completely vegan version, use soy and agave in place of the fish sauce and honey, and choose a vegan Thai curry paste.

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Dominique Woolf

Sesame Ramen with Caramelized Pork

Preparation time: 25 minutes. Cooking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients (serves 2 generously)

For the paste:
6 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
2½ tbsp soft brown sugar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp grated ginger (approx. 6cm)

For the pork:
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tsp grated ginger (approx. 2cm)
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, finely sliced
200g pork mince, preferably 15–20% fat content
2½ tbsp honey
1½ tbsp fish sauce

For the noodles:
2 large eggs
800ml chicken stock
100g tenderstem broccoli, cut into 5cm pieces
2 portions of ramen or medium egg or wheat noodles
1 carrot, shredded with a julienne peeler or cut into matchsticks
1 spring onion, finely sliced

Method

Whisk the paste ingredients together and divide between two serving bowls. Cook the noodles according to instructions then rinse well under cold water. Set aside. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the spring onions, ginger, garlic and chilli, and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the pork, turn up to medium-high and fry for 4–5 minutes, breaking up the meat as you go, until browned and starting to dry out. Mix in the honey and fish sauce and stir-fry for a further couple of minutes. Turn off the heat. Set aside.

Fill a small saucepan with boiling water and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Add the eggs and cook for 6 minutes, then immediately remove and run under cold water for a minute or so. Peel and cut in half.

Bring the stock to the boil in a large pan. Add the broccoli and cook for 2–3 minutes, until just done. Remove and set aside. Add the cooked noodles and turn down the heat – you want them to reheat, not cook.

Add a ladle of stock to each serving bowl and whisk to combine, then stir in the remaining stock. Add the noodles, and top with the caramelized pork, the halved soft-boiled eggs, the broccoli and shredded carrot. Garnish with spring onions. Nice with a drizzle of soy or chilli oil.

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