Thursday, December 24, 2015

Pork Neck Udon

In planning for our Christmas break, I knew that despite being closed on Christmas Eve, I had to go into work to receive a couple of trucks in the morning. I hoped to be home by lunch time depending on when the trucks arrived and so I planned to make lunch for us.

A couple of $20 bills disbursed the week before along with a box of chocolates for one of the driver's wives ensured that my restaurant was the first stop that the drivers made in Winchester on Christmas Eve. Amazing how that little trick (and being nice to your drivers throughout the year) works when you really need it. So, I was out of work by 10:30 in the morning to head home for lunch.

A few days earlier, I decided that I wanted a big bowl of udon and I didn't think I would have any complaints from the family. As it turned out, Carter's waif of a girlfriend also ate with us and although she barely ate any, I'm not taking this as a bad sign. I'm guessing that she barely eats at all anyway. I wolfed my bowl like a starving thing.

Pork Neck and Shiitake Udon
Udon is all about two things: the broth and the noodles. I have no say in the noodles. I can only get one type, the ones from the Brooklyn factory that everyone on the East Coast uses. What I can control is the broth. I decided to go way far away from traditional Japanese broths and do a deep, rich pork broth in keeping with the winter weather. Several days before, I roasted some pork neck bones to the point of caramelization and then converted them to a super-rich pork stock. Once the stock was cooked, I picked and saved the neck meat for garnish for the noodles.

Christmas Eve on my way home, I stopped at the market for cilantro, green onions, shiitakes, and pickled mustard stems as garnishes for the udon. At home, I prepped all the garnishes while reheating the stock. Once the stock was warm, I seasoned it with a little agave nectar and a little fish sauce. Into the seasoned stock went the neck meat to rewarm and the shiitakes to cook for a minute. Then for each bowl, I dipped a quarter of the noodles into the broth to warm them and transferred them to a serving bowl. Over the top went broth containing the neck meat and shiitakes and I left it to each diner to garnish with mustard, green onions, and cilantro.

I was a very happy boy. My udon craving was satiated.

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