Spicy Kimchi and Pork Ramen for a Savory Arctic Stretch

This time of year, as fresh greens dwindle to paltry proportions, and our northern Michigan season extension expiration looms, I start looking to my fall self to see what fabulous items I put aside via freezing or fermenting for the impending arctic stretch.

Adventures in Slow Cooking CoverFermented Vegetables CoverLuckily, I got some fabulous new cookbooks for Christmas this year from my husband that will help me create new winter dishes as good as they can get. Adventures in Slow Cooking by Sarah DiGregorio has been on my wish list for some time now…so many ideas for items I still have available in the frosty months! And Fermented Vegetables by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey is an amazing opus on krauts, kimchis, brined pickles, chutneys, relishes, and pastes.

kimchiBecause I still have kimchi in the fridge, a pork shoulder in the freezer, and access to local eggs, I’m going to share a slightly altered version of Spicy Kimchi and Pork Ramen from my crockpot tome. I’ll also share a simple kimchi recipe from my new fermentation guide, in case you don’t happen to have any in your fridge (you can also usually find some in the mushroom/sprout section of the grocery if you’re not up to doing it from scratch).

Spicy Kimchi and Pork Ramen

16 oz jar napa cabbage kimchi, chopped (about 2 cups chopped kimchi and 3 tablespoons kimchi juice; recipe to follow)

1 lb boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2-inch chunks

½ cup gochujang, plus more to taste (gochujang is a Korean chili paste you can find in most groceries nowadays)

2 T soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos

2 T packed light brown sugar

1 T fish sauce

16 oz dried or fresh ramen noodles, cooked to package directions and drained

4 soft- or medium- boiled eggs, halved

  1. Set aside ½ c of the chopped kimchi in the refrigerator. Combine the remaining kimchi and its juice with the pork, gochujang, soy sauce, sugar, fish sauce, and 8 cups water in a 5- to 8- quart slow cooker. Cover and cook until the pork is very tender, 8 to 9 hours on low.
  2. Shred the meat. Stir in the reserved kimchi. Taste for seasoning.
  3. Divide the cooked noodles among 4 bowls and ladle the soup on top. Gently place 1 halved egg into each bowl, sprinkle scallions on top, and serve.

In the Crock Kimchi

Yield about 1 gallon

1 c unrefined sea salt

1 gallon unchlorinated water (I use spring water)

2 large napa cabbages

½ c chile pepper flakes or salt-free gochugaru (available in most groceries)

½ c shredded daikon radish

½ shredded carrot

3 scallions, greens included, sliced

½ – 1 head garlic, cloves separated and minced

1 T minced fresh ginger

  1. In a crock or a large bowl, combine the sea salt with the gallon of water and stir to dissolve. Remove the coarse outer leaves of the cabbages; clean a few and put them aside. Rinse the cabbages in cold water, trim off the stalk end, and cut in half. Submerge the cabbage halves and outer leaves in the brine. Use a plate as a weight to keep the cabbages submerged. Set aside, at room temperature, for 6 to 8 hours.
  2. Drain the cabbage for 15 minutes, reserving about 1 cup of the brine. Set the separated leaves aside.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the chile pepper flakes, daikon, carrot, scallions, garlic, and ginger in a large bowl, and blend thoroughly.
  4. Chop the brined cabbage into bite-size pieces, and add to the bowl. Massage the mixture and taste for salt and adjust, if needed.
  5. Transfer the vegetables, a few handfuls at a time, into a crock, jar, pressing with your hands as you go. Add reserved brine as needed to submerge the vegetables and leave 2-3 inches of headspace for a jar, and 4 inches for a crock. Cover it all with the brined leaves. For a crock, top with a plate and weight down with a sealed water-filled jar. For a jar, you can use a sealed water-filled jar or ziplock bag as a weight combo.
  6. Set aside on a baking sheet to ferment, somewhere nearby, out of direct sunlight, and cool for 7 – 14 days. Check your ferment daily to make sure the vegetables are submerged.
  7. You can start to test the kimchi after 1 week. The cabbage will have a translucent quality and the brine will be an orange-red color. Kimchi is often effervescent; it’s normal whether it’s bubbly or not.

When it’s ready, spoon the kimchi into smaller jars, making sure the veggies are submerged; screw on the jar lids, and store in the fridge. It will keep refrigerated for 9 months.

Molly Stepanski is the local food coordinator for Northeast Michigan. She also operates Presque Isle Farm with her husband, Dion, and son, Sawyer. Contact her at [email protected]