Sometimes you just absolutely need to eat noodles with quail eggs and spinach. It’s a health thing. Even if you don’t have the ingredients to make it happen, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Of course I had all the ingredients but that’s besides the point. If I didn’t, I would get them or substitute the hell out of the correct ingredients. That’s the kind of person I am :D Yesterday, besides craving noodles, I was bored. I’m sort of in limbo; my husband is retiring in July and I’m waiting to go back to Germany to triage our things for pack out to the U.S. and France. I am so done with packing out! It’s stressful and disorienting. In addition, I don’t want to go to Germany. Whine. Good idea!
Anyway, I was bored yesterday. I looked out in the garage freezer and to my surprise, there was a pork belly underneath all those packages of thick sliced bacon my husband bought at the commissary! My hat! Not my exclamation but I heard somebody really old say that :) The pork belly had started to get that dry, aged, I’ve-been-in-the-freezer-way-too-long-look. No matter what my husband says, things do not last for years in the freezer. As I should have, I took it out to thaw and cook, hoping for the best.
This was a French cut pork belly with a small slab of ribs attached. I know I should have rubbed the meat with an Asian-like rub but I took out the Bavarian essence anyway. Sometimes you just have to fly in the face of convention. I do that all the time and it’s liberating. Okay, the Bavarian essence was already made and I didn’t want to make an Asian rub :D I cut the ribs from the pork belly and wondered what to do with the ribs; they couldn’t go back into the freezer.
Happily, the freezer burn/aging only affected the meat’s surfaces. It looked good inside. In celebration, I decided to make a pork stock with the ribs. Slice 2 carrots, 2 onions and peel 5-6 garlic cloves, then put on the bottom of a roasting pan. Slice the ribs into individual bones and put on top of the vegetables. Roast at 425 F for about 1 hour, then boil in a whole bunch of water with a cinnamon stick and 3 whole star anise until the meat falls off the bones. Strain the liquid and reserve for the noodle broth. Chop the meat and reserve as a noodle topping. Or just use canned chicken broth and poach some chicken breasts :)
You can cook the pork belly on the grill or in the oven. I cooked it in the oven at 425 F for 30 minutes, then lowered the temperature to 350 F for 1 1/2 hours. I served the finished pork belly with some diluted plum sauce. Extraordinary!
Udon Noodles, Pork, Spinach and Quail Eggs
6-8 cups homemade pork stock or chicken stock or canned broth
3-4 tbsp tamari soy sauce
3-4 bundles of dried udon noodles
1/2 lb fresh spinach, cut into strips
2 cups cooked pork or chicken, chopped
12-18 quail eggs, hard boiled and sliced in two
Spring onions, sliced
Bring the broth to a full boil, then add the noodles and cook according to package directions. Divide the noodles between 6-8 bowls, then top with the spinach, the meat and the quail eggs. Ladle some hot broth over all and sprinkle with the onions.
Wine suggestion: Veuve Clicquot