From Hugh Amano
[Ed: This lovely soup may be rather involved, but the complex, delicate results are well worth the effort. Says Hugh, “Dashi is a basic stock used ubiquitously in Japanese cooking. It gets much of its flavor from kombu, a dried kelp that lends the stock its salty, nearly meaty backbone and katsuobushi, dried, fermented and smoked bonito tuna flakes. In this adaptation, influenced by David Chang’s Momofuko, I wanted to go for a more porky, meaty flavor, so I omitted the katsuobushi and pumped things way up with pork neck bones, chicken bones (if you can find chicken backs, or are in possession of a chicken carcass, this is best) and a few cubes of concentrated lamb stock I had in the freezer. All ingredients can be found in an Asian market. Don’t worry if you don’t have frozen cubes of various meat stocks in the freezer.”]
For the pork dashi3 pounds pork neck bones 1 large piece kombu 1 pound chicken backs or bones 1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms 1 onion, diced 1 carrot, peeled and diced 3 scallions, sliced 1/4 cup cane vinegar, or to taste 1/4 cup soy sauce, or to taste 2 tablespoons fish sauce, or to taste juice of 1/2 lime Heat oven to 400°. Put pork neck bones on sheet pan and roast in oven for 30 minutes. Flip bones and roast for an additional 15-30 minutes, until bones are deeply roasted.
While bones are roasting, put kombu in large pot and cover with 10 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Let steep for 10 minutes. Remove kombu and discard or save for another use.
Put raw chicken bones into the kombu water and return to the stove over medium heat.
When the pork bones are done roasting, pour off any melted fat and save for another use. Add roasted bones to the water. Put roasting pan over a high flame and pour a cup or so of water into the pan to deglaze it. Scrape the pan with a spoon or spatula to remove any flavorful bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour all of this goodness into the stockpot with the bones. Be sure bones are submerged. If more water is required to submerge bones, add whatever it takes.
Bring stock just to a simmer, and allow to simmer slowly (a bubble or two every couple of seconds) for about 6 hours, occasionally skimming any scum that forms on top. Naturally, water will evaporate from the pot, so take note of the liquid’s starting level and replenish every hour or so as necessary.
When one hour of cooking time remains, add mushrooms, onion, carrots and scallions. Simmer for final hour.
When the stock is done, remove from heat and let rest for 30 minutes or so. After resting, strain the stock through the finest strainer available. You can use a double layer of cheesecloth to help get things nice and fine. Reserve mushrooms for the pickled shiitake mushrooms and discard everything else.
Let stock settle and skim fat from the top. Save fat for another use. Taste stock and add cane vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce and lime juice. Stir stock completely and taste again. Adjust flavor using additional amounts of these four seasoning agents. This pork dashi should last about seven days.
For the roasted pork belly1-2 pounds pork belly, skin off (depending on how much you love it) 3 tablespoons kosher salt (per pound of pork belly) 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar (per pound of pork belly) any spices you might like (this is up to you and by no means necessary and will develop as you develop your pork belly roasting mastery. Suggestions? 5-spice, fennel, cumin, coriander, etc.)
Rub pork with all other ingredients. Put in a plastic bag and seal. Place in refrigerator and let cure overnight. If you can’t do overnight, give it as much time as you can. Even an hour.
Heat oven to 400°. Remove pork from bag, discard any liquid, and place pork in roasting pan, fat side up. Roast for 60 minutes. Lower oven to 250°. Roast an additional 60-90 minutes until outside is crisp and inside is tender. Remove from oven and let cool in a refrigerator. When cooled, slice into thin chunks. Use in the next couple of days.
For the pickled shiitake mushroomsreserved shiitake mushrooms from pork dashi, sliced thin 1/4 cup pork dashi 1/2 cup cane vinegar 1/4 cup soy sauce 1 tablespoon sambal (chile paste) 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger Bring all ingredients but the mushrooms to a boil. Pour over mushrooms and let cool. Cover and keep refrigerated. This’ll keep for about a week.
For the pork and ginger tortellini
For the dough:1 cup all-purpose flour 2 large eggs pinch of salt Combine all ingredients in bowl and knead well until a smooth, cohesive consistency is reached. Let rest for 20 minutes. Roll to your pasta roller’s thinnest setting and cut into 3” diameter circles. Keep covered so dough does not dry out.
For the filling:8 ounces pork shoulder or loin, cubed 2 ounces pork fat back, cubed 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger 2 cloves garlic, finely minced 1 scallion, finely minced 2 teaspoon sambal 3 tablespoons cane vinegar 1 teaspoon sesame oil 1 teaspoon fish sauce 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 tablespoon Thai basil, minced 1 tablespoon culantro (a cousin of cilantro, thus cilantro may be substituted), finely minced 1 egg
Grind pork and fat, or finely mince. Add all other ingredients and combine well. Poach a small sample and taste for seasoning, making any necessary adjustments.
To assemble:3” dough circles pork and ginger filling 1 egg yolk
Brush half of a dough circle lightly with the egg yolk. Place a small amount of filling, roughly 1/2 tsp, in the middle of circle. Fold bottom of circle up to create a half moon containing the filling. To create tortellini shape, place the flat edge of the half moon across your pinky so it forms a cross with your pinky. Wrap the dough around your pinky, overlapping the two ends and pinching them down to seal. Use egg to help adhere the two ends to each other if necessary. Remove from finger and place on floured sheet pan.
To assemble dishpork and ginger tortellini roasted pork belly pickled shiitake mushrooms culantro, chiffonade Thai basil, chiffonade scallions, sliced pork dashi
Steam or simmer tortellini until filling is cooked all the way through. Place 4 tortellini in the bottom of a soup bowl. Add a few slices of pork belly and a few pickled shiitake mushrooms, arranging in an attractive manner. Sprinkle a pinch each of culantro, Thai basil and scallions in bowl. Present to your guests. At the table, ladle hot pork dashi into each bowl. See the goodness. Smell the goodness. Taste the goodness. Feel the goodness.