Spicy Sesame Pork Soup with Noodles

February 5, 2013

Test Kitchen-Approved

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 to 6
Prep time: 15 hrs 30 min

Ingredients

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

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 tablespoon 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
  • 1 Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 14 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
In This Recipe

Directions

For Stock

  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. 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!

More Great Recipes:
Soup|Asian|Cilantro|Grains|Green Onion/Scallion|Pork|Sesame Oil|Tamarind|Miso|Noodle|Carrot|Gluten-Free

Reviews (105) Questions (4)

105 Reviews

MoCat November 6, 2017
Hi, I’m excited to make this. I’ve been able to find everything except a smoked ham hock and cilantro with roots. I did find a smoked ham shank, which I’m hoping is a good substitute. I just have one question: Do I also use the meat off the ham hock (shank)? I’m guessing, “Yes”, but thought I’d ask. -Thank you
 
Author Comment
gingerroot November 6, 2017
Hi MoCat, thanks for your note. Yes, substituting shank for hock should be fine and yes add the shank meat to the final soup. Enjoy!!!
 
cookinalong November 14, 2016
I don't understand the point of grinding the furikake to a paste. Why the extra step? Could I just add it as is?
 
Author Comment
gingerroot November 15, 2016
Hi cookinalong,<br />I could not source Asian sesame paste when I first made this and subbed ground sesame-Katsuo furikake (which I had just received as a gift from Japan). You could certainly add the furikake without grinding, I'm just not sure if you would get the same sesame flavor. Let me know what you try!<br />Cheers,<br />Jenny
 
JJ A. September 3, 2016
OMG, you might have just saved me from the loony bin!!! There have been SO MANY instances when, after making a complex recipe for something, I taste said item and find it to be BLAND BLAND BLAND, and yet, when I take some to my friend to eat the next day, HE SAYS...YUM YUM YUM!<br />I thought I was losing my mind, my taste buds, something! <br />Thank you for sharing your finding.....it's those kind of notes that help ALL COOKS become more adept at this art/craft/love of cooking. AMEN!
 
priscilla M. March 16, 2016
HI!<br />WHAT DO I DO WITH THE ONIONS AND CARROTS AFTER I SIEVED THEM. ONLY MENTIONED THE BONES GO BACK IN THE POT AND MEAT IN TIGHT LID CONTAINER. THANK YOU! CAN'T WAIT!!
 
Author Comment
gingerroot March 16, 2016
Hi! Thanks for your comment. In step 8 you strain out vegetables, using a sieve (or similar implement) over the stockpot and press down on solids to extract as much flavorful liquid from vegetables back into pot. Hope that helps. Hope you enjoy!<br />
 
Miles February 29, 2016
Is there any substitute for the katsuo? I have toasted sesame seeds, dashi, but not that. Do I leave it out. The stock is ready....thanks!
 
Author Comment
gingerroot February 29, 2016
Hi Miles, I'd just go ahead with the toasted sesame seeds in step three and if you have dashi powder you could add a pinch. Hope it works out!
 
Miles March 1, 2016
Thanks! We just got snow so it's perfect!
 
Mollyh October 3, 2015
At what point during the stock-making do you remove the bones for good? Before adding ham hock? Thanks.
 
Author Comment
gingerroot October 3, 2015
Hi Mollyh, yes, in step 8, after returning bones to pot and simmering for another hour, remove bones before refrigerating stock and before adding hock the next day. Sorry that is not clear as written. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you make this! Thanks.
 
StevenHB August 13, 2015
Did the pork bones cook long enough to give up their gelatin so that the pork broth has some body and tackiness? For me, that's the best part about making broth from bones. I made a pork-neck-broth some months ago during a blizzard - I think that I simmered the bones for 24 hours but I did get that yummy mouthfeel.
 
Chris G. June 28, 2015
If you live in the vicinity of a town or city that has an "H-Mart," most of these ingredients will be available there, in fact you may be overwhelmed at the variety of brands/variety of container sizes!<br />On another note: the one special ingredient I was not able to find at H-mart which surprised me was Lapsang Souchong Tea. My local Whole Foods has it in bulk. I want to experiment with it to try making Thai Fried Rice..using it in the rice cooking water to see if a little of it will impart the hint of smokiness that I taste when eating the Thai Fried Rice at Thai Restaurants...does anyone know how they do that???<br />Chris
 
Susan W. June 28, 2015
I think they get that flavor by using screaming hot woks. I get my work as hot as I can and literally char onion, carrots etc on the edges before adding the rest of my ingredients.
 
ErinC October 19, 2014
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!!!!
 
Author Comment
gingerroot October 19, 2014
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!!
 
Susan W. October 7, 2014
Oh my. This is the most fabulous soup ever. I followed the slow method and chilled overnight 3 times. It's amazing. <br /><br />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. <br /><br />This soup will definitely make an appearance often this winter along with Amanda's broccoli soup. Yay for Food52.
 
Author Comment
gingerroot October 16, 2014
Hi Susan W.! Thanks for taking the long road and giving this a try. I'm so happy you enjoyed it!!
 
Susan W. October 4, 2014
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.
 
Author Comment
gingerroot October 5, 2014
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!
 
Susan W. October 6, 2014
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!!
 
Andy May 5, 2014
Sounds great!
 
Shaarkm April 27, 2014
Can u please tell me substitutions for pork? Like chicken or no meat at all?
 
Author Comment
gingerroot October 16, 2014
You could certainly try substituting chicken, though it will be a very different soup.
 
Alejandralxndr February 5, 2014
Where in Honolulu did you find the neck bones and ham hock?
 
Author Comment
gingerroot February 6, 2014
Hi Alexandralxndr, <br />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!
 
JoyD November 5, 2013
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.
 
Author Comment
gingerroot November 6, 2013
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.
 
Vivi B. March 10, 2013
We all loved it so much and had such a good time. Thank you.
 
Vivi B. March 10, 2013
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.<br /><br />Peace.
 
Author Comment
gingerroot March 10, 2013
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.
 
Terence November 13, 2016
Vivi, you may never know how much your beautiful story means to me. A loving, comforting way through grief. Thank you so much!
 
Christina @. March 8, 2013
Congrats! What a lot of work, but you've created a masterpiece! Nicely done!
 
Author Comment
gingerroot March 8, 2013
Thanks so much, Christina!!
 
QueenOfGreen March 7, 2013
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!
 
Author Comment
gingerroot March 8, 2013
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.
 
QueenOfGreen March 8, 2013
Will absolutely make it again!
 
calendargirl March 1, 2013
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.
 
Author Comment
gingerroot March 1, 2013
You are so welcome, calendargirl!! I'd love to hear your thoughts about it. Thanks for your kind words.