Spicy Sesame Pork Soup with Noodles

By • February 5, 2013 • 93 Comments

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Author Notes: My noodle soup haiku: I love noodle soup. Laksa, Tan Tan, Bun Rieu Chay! Slurpy noodle joy.

I do love noodle soup but have seldom taken the time to make a rich, flavorful broth. I decided now was as good a time as any, and figured pork would be a good place to start. Going in I knew that this would not be an eat-the-same-day-you-make-it soup. This is the long road, the start on Friday eat on Sunday kind of soup. Having never made pork-based stock before, I remembered cookinginvictoria’s rich Sunday Pork Ragu used pork neck bones and that they ended up being one of my favorite parts of the dish. I decided to roast them, to deepen the flavor of the stock and added some carrots and onion, for their earthy sweetness. I also chose to add a ham hock in the last hour of cooking for its salt and smoke, as well as whole cilantro and green onion for another layer of flavor (a trick I learned from making a chicken soup from Hot Sour Salty Sweet). Thinking of my favorite tan tan ramen I knew I wanted a sesame element but could not source any Asian sesame paste. Realizing I could simply grind my own sesame paste, I decided to use a gift my dad had recently brought back from Japan – a mixture of roasted sesame seeds and bonito flakes (katsuo furikake) for added richness. For heat and salt, I used gojuchang (another timely gift) and a little aka miso – both having the dark, roasted notes I was looking for. The pork bones I found were extremely meaty and I was happy to be able to use the meat for the soup (though ground pork would be a good substitute). Far from traditional, the addition of balsamic vinegar adds a much-needed splash of acid. Enjoy! N.B. In experimenting with this recipe, I had an unexpected surprise. After one to two days of cooking (depending on how long you take to make the basic stock) the seasonings need at least an overnight in the fridge to bloom. Eaten immediately after adding them, the stock is shockingly bland. Allowing the mixture to cool overnight (or a few days) marries them in a flavorful way – suddenly all the taste you expected is there.
gingerroot

Food52 Review: WHO: Gingerroot is an apron-wearing cook from Honolulu, Hawaii.
WHAT: A rich, brothy soup that delivers on its promises.
HOW: To make this stock, you'll need to be a bit patient. You'll also need to roast a lot of bones, simmer, skim, and strain. But it'll be worth your time, we promise.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This soup tastes as soul-satisfying as it is to make. It's a long haul -- but the kind that we love to get in our element and make, methodically. The smoky, spicy, long-simmered end result just sweetens the reward.
The Editors

Serves 4-6

For Stock

  • 3 pounds meaty pork neck bones
  • 1 medium onion, rough chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, preferably organic, scrubbed and rough chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • 5 whole cilantro plants, including roots, well washed
  • 5 whole scallions, including roots, well washed
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Spread pork bones out on a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes.
  3. After 30 minutes, carefully flip bones with a metal spatula and tongs and add carrots and onions to pan, piling vegetables on top of the bones. Roast for 30 more minutes, until vegetables begin to char around edges and bones begin to caramelize.
  4. Transfer bones and vegetables to a large stockpot. Add 14 cups water, reserving the last ½ cup to deglaze the roasting sheet, using a metal spatula to scrape up all the browned bits before adding mixture to stockpot. Water should be covering bones by about an inch.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk tamarind paste, tomato paste, and 2 tablespoons water from the stockpot. Whisk this mixture into the stockpot.
  6. Heat stock over medium-high heat until nearly boiling, and then reduce to a slow simmer.
  7. Continue simmering (uncovered) for 2 hours.
  8. After 2 hours, using a sieve, strain out vegetables, pressing down on solids so liquids go back into stockpot. One at a time, carefully take out bones and put them on a plate near your stockpot. Using small tongs and a fork (or two forks) remove the meat. Transfer meat (should have between 3-4 cups depending on how meaty your bones were) to a container with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate. Return bones, including cartilage and fat, and any liquid that may have accumulated on the plate, to stockpot. Continue simmering for 1 hour. At this point, you can allow mixture to cool slightly before refrigerating overnight. I found that transferring stock to another pot nestled in a large pan filled with ice and water helped cool down the stock more quickly in order to transfer pot to refrigerator. The next day, remove congealed fat layer from surface of stock before simmering for a final hour, adding the smoked ham hock, whole cilantro plants and scallions. Strain out hock and aromatics with a sieve, pressing down on solids to allow liquids back into stock. Repeat cooling and refrigerating step.
  9. Alternatively, you can make the stock in one day by adding the smoked hock and aromatics after three hours of simmering (skipping the extra overnight in the fridge), and continue cooking for the final hour. Cool stock enough to refrigerate overnight (see above in step 8).

Seasonings For the Soup -- Finishing the Soup

  • 1/4 cup Katsuo Furikake (Roasted Sesame Seed and Dried Bonito mix) *found in the Japanese section of an Asian market or some grocery stores
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons Gochujang (fermented Korean chili paste)*found in the Korean section of an Asian market or some grocery stores
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Aka (Red) Miso paste *found in the Japanese section of an Asian market or some grocery stores
  • -------------------------------------------------------
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 cups reserved pork meat, chopped
  • 4 cups shredded Savoy or Napa cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 14-16 ounces rice vermicelli (from an Asian market or section of the grocery store – Do not substitute gluten free rice noodles) *Feel free to substitute your favorite Asian noodle instead, such as ramen
  1. Take stock out of refrigerator and remove congealed fat layer from the surface of soup (stock should be more like jelly than liquid).
  2. Heat stock over medium-high heat until nearly boiling, and then reduce to a slow simmer.
  3. If you have them, use a suribachi (ceramic Japanese mortar with rough grooves on the inside of the bowl) and surikogi (wooden pestle) to grind katsuo furikake into a paste. If you do not, a regular mortar and pestle will also work. Add ½ t sesame oil midway through grinding to help mixture come together.
  4. When almost all of the sesame seeds are mashed, add in 1 T of gojuchang. If you know you love heat, add 2 T. As you turn the pestle around the mortar, the gojuchang will ball up around the sesame seed mixture. Whisk this into the stock and allow soup to simmer for 20 minutes. If there is still a lot of sesame-gojuchang paste stuck in the mortar, add a little bit of stock to the bowl, stir, and pour mixture into the pot.
  5. Turn off heat.
  6. Place miso paste in a small bowl and whisk in enough hot stock (2-3 T) to liquefy the miso. Pour this into stock and stir to incorporate. Allow mixture to cool and refrigerate overnight.
  7. Remove your soup from the refrigerator and slowly heat it up.
  8. In another pot, cook rice vermicelli according to directions on the package, and then drain in a colander, rinsing with some cold water to stop the noodles from cooking.
  9. In a skillet large enough to hold pork and cabbage, heat sesame oil over medium heat.
  10. Add chopped pork and stir to heat through. Add cabbage and stir to take off raw edge. Turn off heat, stir in balsamic and a pinch of salt.
  11. Portion rice noodles into soup bowls.
  12. Top each bowl with pork and cabbage.
  13. Ladle steaming broth over each bowl.
  14. Generously add chopped green onions and cilantro to each bowl and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Jump to Comments (93)

Comments (93) Questions (4)

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2 months ago ErinC

This soup is not a quick and easy dinner! But with time and patience, it turns out to be worth the wait. I ended up doubling the broth amount on after the third chilling, as it had reduced quite a bit and I wanted some leftovers. I added 12 more cups water, some beef boullion and then doubled the amount of seasoning (sesame/gojuchang & miso). I did have furikake, but I also had a bunch of tahini, so I used that in lieu of the grinding of the sesame seeds, it seemed to work pretty well, so I recommend if you want to go that route. I ended up seasoning with furikake anyways at the end. Overall, I got a very flavorful, roasted broth. I used a wide rice noodle which I just tossed in the broth at the end of the last broth heating, which worked well! Gingerroot, thanks for the great fall/winter soup! I look forward to making again!!!!

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2 months ago gingerroot

Thank you so much for giving this a try, ErinC! It is not a quick soup, by any means, so I really appreciate your fortitude. I'm especially happy that you enjoyed the result! Cheers!!

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2 months ago Susan W

Oh my. This is the most fabulous soup ever. I followed the slow method and chilled overnight 3 times. It's amazing.

I don't own a mortar and pestle (yes..life goes on), so I used my immersion blender jar. Didn't work. Then I tried my amazing blender which annihilates ice into oblivion. Didn't work. Sigh. I think it may have crushed some of the sesame seeds, but many were left whole. I didn't try my Cuisinart. It probably would have worked. I was worried that there wasn't enough paste and it would have just stuck to the side. My furikake contained seaweed so next time I may just try sesame seeds and bonito flakes.

This soup will definitely make an appearance often this winter along with Amanda's broccoli soup. Yay for Food52.

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2 months ago gingerroot

Hi Susan W.! Thanks for taking the long road and giving this a try. I'm so happy you enjoyed it!!

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3 months ago Susan W

So excited to make this. My one question is...is it tamarind paste in blocks that are refrigerated or the looser one in the jar. It's just tamarind paste and water, but the blocks are so concentrated. I went with the jar after much back and forth. Neck bones are browning (had to use beef this time) and everything else is good to go.

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3 months ago gingerroot

When I can find it, I use the paste that is sold in a small jar. Can't wait to hear how it turns out!

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3 months ago Susan W

It's on its second night rest. I probably will make the last phase (and eat a huge bowl) tomorrow night or Tuesday. Can't hardly wait!!

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8 months ago Andy

Sounds great!

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8 months ago Shaarkm

Can u please tell me substitutions for pork? Like chicken or no meat at all?

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2 months ago gingerroot

You could certainly try substituting chicken, though it will be a very different soup.

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11 months ago Alejandralxndr

Where in Honolulu did you find the neck bones and ham hock?

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11 months ago gingerroot

Hi Alexandralxndr,
You can find ham hocks in the meat department of most local supermarkets. For some reason Times Kaimuki seems to have more cuts of meat than most markets, including pork neck bones. Hope you enjoy it if you try it!

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about 1 year ago JoyD

Oh my what a great soup. Because of limited time it took me 4 days to complete. By the 3rd day, I said never again. But when the soup was finished and I tasted it, I put the printed receipe pages into plastic sleeves to preserve it. So good, I am making it for my daughter's family when they visit at Christmas time. It will be perfect as a pick-me-up after a 6 hour flight. Thank you so much for sharing.

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about 1 year ago gingerroot

Hi JoyD! Thanks for your message. Ha, I was thinking the same thing on the 3rd day of figuring this recipe out. I'm so glad you enjoyed it and am tickled that you want to make it for your daughter's family. I hope they enjoy it too.

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almost 2 years ago Vivi B.

We all loved it so much and had such a good time. Thank you.

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almost 2 years ago Vivi B.

I made this wonderful broth this weekend and will serve the soup tonight to friends along with some other spicy offerings. I lost my beloved 14 year old dog on Friday and decided to spend the weekend patiently making this broth as a way to ease my sorrow. I have renamed this soup Solace Soup as there was something so comforting about all the steps. I imagined my sweet little guy at my feet the entire time, hoping for a bit of pork (or alot of pork!) and generally hanging around in case I wanted his company during the long and fragrant broth making. It fully brought him back to life for me - so hooray for making things that take time and and are worth the time. Like any long and loving relationship.

Peace.

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Oh Vivi B., I can't tell you how much I appreciate your kind words. My family lost a beloved dog (perhaps the best dog I've ever had)a few months ago and we still miss her so much. That making my soup was able to bring him back for you is the highest compliment. I hope you all enjoy it tonight.

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almost 2 years ago Christina @ Christina's Cucina

Congrats! What a lot of work, but you've created a masterpiece! Nicely done!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thanks so much, Christina!!

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almost 2 years ago QueenOfGreen

I am SO impressed with myself for 1) finding all the ingredients in the market where everyone's yelling in a completely unfamiliar language and 2) managing to make this! I mean, that you CAME UP WITH the recipe is great and all too, I suppose. : ) It was wonderful, thank you!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Oh QueenOfGreen, you've made my day! I'm so glad you made my soup and hope that it was worth the search for unusual ingredients and long production time.

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almost 2 years ago QueenOfGreen

Will absolutely make it again!

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almost 2 years ago calendargirl

This is just a glorious recipe, gingerroot, and beautifully presented. Have been on a noodle soup jag and am writing my shopping list now! Many thanks.

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

You are so welcome, calendargirl!! I'd love to hear your thoughts about it. Thanks for your kind words.

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almost 2 years ago Dolcearia

I cannot locate neck bones. What should I substitute?

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Hi Dolcearia, maybe try country style ribs or spare ribs? Since I've only made it with meaty neck bones I do not have a specific cut to recommend. Any meaty cut that includes smallish bones should work. Let me know what you end up using. I'd definitely still keep an eye out for neck bones - they make amazing stock!

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almost 2 years ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

I love it! A big congrats.

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, QueenSashy!

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almost 2 years ago Birtiledge

This sounds amazing! Will have to wait it out for southern hemisphere winter to really make the most of it. This'll be the perfect incentive to make something other than emergency "everything soup" next time I feel a cold coming on.

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thank you Birtiledge, I hope you enjoy it!

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almost 2 years ago MikeeLikesIt

i'm making your recipe this weekend while nursing a week long cold--perfect for healing the senses and soul! I'm curious tho, how big is a cilantro plant? I decided to use a medium bunch of cilantro from the market.

Mahalo!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Hi MikeeLikesIt, I'm so glad you are making my soup! I hope it will do the trick and kick your cold. This kind of soup is my go-to panacea when I'm feeling under the weather. To answer your question about cilantro, I get whole cilantro in my CSA box - each plant with roots has about 6-10 stems. A medium bunch sounds like a reasonable approximation. Actually, I think Amanda & Merrill's photo slide show includes a photo of a cilantro plant with roots.
Hope you enjoy the soup!

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almost 2 years ago Beautiful, Memorable Food

This looks epic! I will have to add it to my noodle soup repertoire.

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, Beautiful, Memorable Food, I'd love to know what you think if you make it.

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almost 2 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Hooray Jenny!!! This looks simply unbelievable! I want to slurp it all right up!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thanks so much, Em! I appreciate your enthusiasm. :)

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almost 2 years ago ChristineQ

You got me at tamarind! This soup looks amazing and I comend you on your ingenuity in your creation of this recipe. My Mom has been going through chemo, I've been making her soup nearly every week since she started, next week is her 12th and final treatment. I'm making your soup which will also be her celebration soup. I'm so looking forward to both making and trying your soup. Congratulations!

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almost 2 years ago ChristineQ

Commend you. Sent from my phone.

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Oh ChristineQ! You've just about made my day. Best wishes to your mom - I'll be thinking of you both next week. I hope you both enjoy this and I'd love to hear your thoughts about it.

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almost 2 years ago ChristineQ

I made the soup for our celebration and it was the perfect soul warming soup. Really outstanding. Thank you for your fabulous creation!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

I'm so happy to hear that! Thank you for letting me know. Now you've really made my day.

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almost 2 years ago darksideofthespoon

This looks divine! I can't wait to try this.

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, darksideofthespoon! I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

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almost 2 years ago Madhuja

This soup sounds AMAZING! Have to make that trip to the Asian market soon! :)

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, Madhuja! I especially love the gojuchang - to my palate it adds such a rich and almost smoky flavor to this soup.

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almost 2 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

This looks amazing gingerroot!! Many congrats. Tough week for voting when two of my favorite people on Food52 have recipes in the finals!! Good luck to both of you :-)

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thanks so much, S! I am humbled and thrilled to be in such good company.

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almost 2 years ago Bevi

Congrats GR!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thanks, Bevi!

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almost 2 years ago lapadia

Congrats!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, Linda!

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almost 2 years ago Midge

Way to go gingerroot!! I'm so excited this is a finalist.

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thanks, Midge! I hope you like it if you give it a try.

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almost 2 years ago Kukla

Congratulations, gingerroot on being in the finals!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, Kukla! I appreciate your warm wishes.

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almost 2 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Love the cilantro and spring onions/scallions in this. Many congratulations!!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

I've been adding whole cilantro/scallions to my Asian soups ever since making a chicken soup from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet (Alford/Duguid). They add a lot of flavor to the stock. Thanks so much, KB!

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almost 2 years ago nannydeb

Congratulations!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, nannydeb!

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almost 2 years ago healthierkitchen

What a great recipe, gingerroot! congrats!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thanks so much, hk!

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almost 2 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Congratulations, gingerroot! Your soup sounds amazing!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, mrslarkin! This has been a happy day! xo

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almost 2 years ago cupcakelounge

Congrats, G - root! What an awesome soup!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, cupcakelounge!

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almost 2 years ago dymnyno

I love the complexity and the depth of flavors this soup promises. I promise to make it very soon!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Oh, I hope you do! And I hope you enjoy it. Thank you so much, dymnyno.

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almost 2 years ago Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast

This is such a fantastic recipe. I just love it.

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thanks, BSfB! I'd love to hear your thoughts if you give it a try.

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almost 2 years ago EmilyC

Wow, this looks amazing! Congratulations!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, EmilyC!

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almost 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations GR, this soup had finalist written all over it. Beautifully done!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thanks, sdebrango! It was a lovely surprise to get the day off to a good start.

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almost 2 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Congratulations!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, hardlikearmour! I'm in happy disbelief.

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almost 2 years ago cookinginvictoria

Yay -- I was hoping that your fabulous sounding soup would be a finalist!! Congratulations! Still working on sourcing some of the ingredients, but I'm hoping to try this recipe soon.

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, Paula!! This would not have happened without your pork neck tip and your delicious Sunday Pork Ragu.

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almost 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Hi gingerroot! Congratulations on being a finalist with your amazing soup! Isn't this fun?!
XO

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Yes! Too much fun! XO

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almost 2 years ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

This looks great! I've been thinking of getting some kansui and giving ramen-making a go, and I've thought that if I do that big project, I am going to need an equally big-project broth to go with it. Thanks for providing exactly that!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Hi Greenstuff! Sorry for the late reply, somehow I missed your comment. I hope you enjoy the broth if you try it.

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almost 2 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

This sounds completely, soul-satisfyingly, delicious! I'm in awe.

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thanks so much, hardlikearmour! I was happy to get the deep flavor I had in mind...it just requires a little patience.

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almost 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Spicy is right! Clearly, some effort is involved here, but just as clearly, every minute of it is well worth it. I love the Napa cabbage added in at the end. This has masterpiece written all over it.

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, boulangere. I appreciate your kind words.

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almost 2 years ago cookinginvictoria

Gingerroot, this looks incredibly delicious! I am so thrilled that you were inspired by the Sunday Pork Ragu recipe when you were creating the stock. I agree -- pork neck bones make everything taste better! :)
I really love the vibrant, Asian flavors that you have going on here. Must try to make this on my next free weekend. I will see if I can source some Gochujang. Lovely picture too!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thank you so much cookinginvictoria! It's funny because I've only ever found pork neck bones at one store of a local supermarket chain and when I was making your recipe I remember calling around...but I'm so glad I found them here! They really add so much flavor. I hope you can find some gojuchang - it is a lovely condiment to have on hand, with its spicy, almost smoky, fermented notes.

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almost 2 years ago Midge

Looks and sounds deeply delicious. Must find this sesame bonito mix. sdebrango, I've often found cilantro with roots in intact at Whole Foods.

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thanks Midge! There is a little variety among the sesame bonito mixes that I've seen - the package my dad brought from Japan was just roasted sesame and bonito, while the one I found at the grocery store (in a jar) included little bits of seaweed. Either type will work. I hope you enjoy it if you try it.

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almost 2 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Wow - this sounds like a completely worthy weekend project ... ah-maze-ing

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thanks, A! It's a pretty easy project too, especially if you do the stock in one day. Then the hardest part is having to wait...but patience pays off! I just had a bowl of a batch I started on Friday and it is delicious.

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almost 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

This is amazing GR, the flavor sounds very complex and delicious, do you find whole cilantro plants at your local farmers market or food store? Other than those in the ground I have never seen them. If you cannot find a whole plant I guess it would be ok to use the cut cilantro available in the stores. Those roasted pork bones will make a killer stock. Delicious!

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, sdebrango! Like Midge mentioned, I have found cilantro with roots at my Whole Foods. I've also seen them sold like that at my farmers' market and would guess maybe also in Chinatown? I'd love to hear your thoughts if you give this a try.