Deconstructed Smoked Pork Loin Ramen Stacks/Pollyanna The Full Lemonty/Spacegoat “Superstition”
Let’s just get this out there. We LOVE ramen; good ramen, real ramen, not the buy it by the case collegiate ramen. A huge bowl of unami-rich broth, pork that melts in your mouth, tender yet chewy noodles along with a host of veggies and egg that share the same large bowl, that’s what we are talking about. That being said, we only indulge in this a couple times per year because 1. The southern burbs of Chicago have not yet become a hot bed for traditional ramen and 2. You can only eat what is the sodium equivalent of sucking on 16 bouillon cubes at one time sparingly to say the least. Well, until now that is. Tonight, we deconstruct this famous dish and trade in the spoon for a fork as we dig into these ramen stacks starting with an Asian veggie omelette topped with sautéed spinach, adzuki bean noodles and slices of smoked & soy braised pork loin. We tee’d up a crisp golden ale to pair with this flavorful dish, the Full Lemonty from local Pollyanna Brewing. On the stereo, we cranked up the beautiful melodic psych doom of Monterrey, Mexico’s Spacegoat and their killer “Superstition” album.
Deconstructed Smoked Pork Loin Ramen Stacks – Traditional ramen is pretty labor intensive and time consuming. Our deconstructed version, while not as difficult, still has several steps to it including smoking a pork loin, so a weeknight meal this is not. We start with a pork loin that we slather with spicy mustard then season heavily with black pepper.
The pork loin goes down in the smoker that we’re using a combination of lump charcoal and a little cherry wood.
After about an hour and a half, the pork will have a dark brown bark and will be ready to come off the smoker.
We then pour a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce on top of the pork loin and wrap tightly in foil. The pork braises at 275 for another hour.
As the pork is finishing, we can knock out the rest of the stack items starting with the noodles. We totally took a stab in the dark with these noodles made almost entirely of the adzuki bean. Please don’t ask us what that is, because we still have no idea other than it is really healthy. We boiled the noodles in beef broth until soft and the aroma that filled the kitchen smelled like fried chicken, so we just had to reach into the scalding hot water to sample a strand. They were ridiculously good, with a meaty taste and texture that was only further enhanced by being cooked in the beef broth.
Next up we turn our attention to the sautéed spinach. In a medium size sauté pan we warm a tablespoon of sesame oil then add in a tablespoon each of fresh grated ginger and fresh crushed garlic. We give that a quick stir until fragrant then add in half of a bag of baby spinach. Toss the spinach in the hot ginger and garlic oil until wilted then remove from heat and keep warm.
The last item we need to make for the stacks are the omelettes. In the same sauté pan, warm enough sesame oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add in some julienned zucchini, carrots and squash and let them cook down until just starting to turn soft, about 2-3 minutes.
Now we can add the eggs, two beaten eggs get spread on top of the veggies.
Using a spatula, carefully lift the edges of the omelette while turning the pan so the runny eggs on top work their way down to the bottom of the pan. Once the omelette is set, carefully flip it.
Slightly brown the other side then remove to a plate so that we can to get to stacking.
On top of the omelette we layer the sautéed spinach and a heaping helping of the noodles.
The last step is remove the braising pork from the oven, slice and layer on top of the noodles. All that’s left to do is dig making sure you get a little bit of everything in each bite to get transferred to ramen utopia.
Pollyanna The Full Lemonty – Lemont’s Pollyanna has been doing really well; from its always packed taproom in downtown Lemont to its increasingly available line of canned beer, we’re always excited to try what they are brewing up. The cleverly named The Full Lemonty golden ale pours true to its style, it’s golden in color; translucent with a foamy white head. The aroma is pretty astringent with German-like pilsner smell. The flavor is a pretty straight forward golden ale with a little more body than the macrobrewed lagers for the most part, but still what we would consider to be a transitional beer for those that prefer macrobrewed lagers and find themselves in a microbrewery. It also happened to be exactly what we were looking for this evening as the ramen’s partner, replacing the Asahi or Kirin we would be drinking if we were having ramen out and it worked perfectly.
Spacegoat “Superstition” – We love the story of how we came to hear of this band. While surfing one of the stoner rock social media pages, we came upon a post that asked their followers who the most underrated stoner rock band was. We flipped through the comments and about every 4th answer it seemed was Spacegoat. Intrigued, we seeked out their music and came across their latest release, “Superstition”. After the first 5 seconds of the opening song, we immediately could see why this band was as beloved as they were. “Doomensional” aside from being a cool name for a track, also lays down some serious groove as the album’s opener made even better by the huge range of singer Gina Rios’ angelic voice. The whole tone has a really cool Ruby the Hatchet vibe to it and had us hooked immediately. “Transmuta” is yet another case of it doesn’t matter if the lyrics are in a different language (in their native Spanish, here), a great song is a great song and extends far beyond our language barriers. The song is a fiery rocker that doubles as a great high speed road tune. On “As We Land”, the bass takes center stage to start off the tune in serious slow, psychedelic sludge fashion. The main blues riff gets slowed down several RPMs and makes the perfect canvas for Rios’ vocal artistry to soar. The title track keeps things in that dark and doomy place but with more of a retro vibe of the late 60s/early 70s psych rock era. “Purple Sand” starts to build right from the opening chord before the bottom drops out and a huge groove spills out all over. Things gets downright trippy on the jammy “Astral” recalling a bluesier Janis Joplin. The acoustic guitar makes its first appearance on “The Wooden Path” which is a beautifully orchestrated folk-rock number reminiscent of some Zeppelin’s acoustic tunes. The engines get fired up again on “Erase the Sun”, a towering wall of fuzz that engulfs your eardrums. “Sacred Mountain” is another candidate for the album’s top track picking up where “Doomensional” left off in all of its groove-heavy glory. The album ends with the 7 minute epic, “Sleeping Hours”. It’s a dark, haunting tune that gets progressively heavier as it rattles on and left us with our mouths hanging open on what turned about to be an incredible album form start to finish.