Pork Belly Noodle Soup

I opened the freezer last night, trying to figure out what to have for supper. I had in my head something chicken and then, in the process of moving things around, a package of pork belly landed in my hand and chicken was off the table. Nice meal planning, right?

So then, what to do with the pork belly? Everyone keeps talking and posting about burnt ends and crispy bits and damnit, I want those, too! The problem, as I see it, is that people are making burnt ends and crispy bits with whole monster sized pieces of pork belly and foreward thinking. They planned this far ahead. Days ahead. So they could soak their pork belly, salt it, let it sit overnight, clean it off, do some magic with vinegar, get the smoker up and running – all of these steps. I did not plan for these steps. Sad face.

I wanted noodles with my pork belly. Mostly I wanted noodles so I could slurp them – yesterday seemed like a slurp noodles kind of day. Slurpy noodles means soup of some sort. All right, progress is being made. Still sort of stuck with the what-to-do-with-the-pork-belly dilemma, though.

Poked through some recipes. Found an interesting picture of some extra ‘done’ pork belly. Hmmmm.

After a quick look, I found a method – add some honey. That honey gives crispy bits when it’s cooked just right. Perfect.

Ingredients: (for the pork belly marinade)

  • 1 lb pork belly, cut into pieces The strips I have are about 1-1/2” across, so I cut them into ½” slices (try and use mostly thawed meat – I had to toss mine into a bowl of water for 15 minutes in order to get the pieces apart enough to cut them. Partially frozen isn’t bad, it helps with the slicing, but fully frozen is probably an accident just waiting to happen)
  • 1/2-1 TB chili garlic paste
  • 2 TB soy sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 TB ginger (I just grated mine)
  • 1 TB sesame oil
  • 1 TB honey (this is the stuff!)

Mix the paste, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, oil and honey in a small bowl (the honey is a bit determined to not mix so be firm) and pour over your pork belly. Try and let it marinate for at least half an hour. I did this, then chopped my vegetables for the soup, got the broth ready and heated the pan (when I say heated, what I really mean is, I washed it because it was sitting in the sink, then I was going to heat it up but then my son asked if I wanted help cooking and I said yes – so he heated the pan up).

Ingredients: (for the soup)

  • 16 oz of noodles – I used rice noodles
  • 1 TB chili garlic paste
  • 1 TB honey
  • 1 TB tahini (or sesame oil)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 3 stalks of celery, cut into chunks
  • 3 cups of broccoli florets
  • 2 cups of mushrooms, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup of radish, cut into thick slices
  • kimchi
  • lime juice

Get a pot of water on the stove to boil for the noodles.

Get a pot big enough for your soup on the stove also, and put your pork belly, with marinade, in it.

Stir fry those belly bits until they are very well browned, crispy on the edges, in fact. Remove them to a dish when they’re done and add your broth.

Add the honey, chili garlic paste and tahini and mix well. Bring to a simmer. Add the coconut milk and bring back up to a simmer.

Crispy bits perfection!

Add the vegetables and let them simmer happily along until the noodles are done and the vegetables are cooked to your liking.

When the water in the pot for the noodles is boiling, add the noodles and cook for the time indicated on the package. I won’t give a time because it depends on what size noodles you’re using. I used flat wide rice noodles and they took about 10 minutes. The fine angel hair rice noodles take less than 5 minutes. Fresh noodles will only take enough time to heat up – you see my point.

Once the noodles are done, drain them and portion them out into soup bowls. Top with broth and vegetables, add some pork belly pieces, toss in a glug of lime juice and add some kimchi if you are so inclined (I was). Go forth and slurp noodles!

Side Note: While we were cooking the pork belly in the soup pan, they were overcrowded and were not browning worth a da…rn, so we pulled them all out and switched them into a cast iron frying pan, which worked beautifully. While they were happily developing crispy bits in the the frying pan, we added the broth and everything else to the soup pan. So we had 3 pans going at one time instead of just the two I had intended.

I included this to show that, apart from burning things to a crisp, there is not much you can do in the kitchen while cooking that can’t be recovered from. And also, if something isn’t working quite right, there is nothing wrong with changing things a bit to get the result you want. I wasn’t getting the crispy pieces I wanted and should have been getting, so I changed pans so I would. Cooking is pretty forgiving like that – baking, not so much. 🙂

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