Chicharrónes (Pork Cracklings) and Egg Mazemen
The Philippines (via Spain) meets Japan in a noodle dish. Chicharrón (tsitsaron or chicharon, in Filipino spelling) — that utterly delicious crackly pork rind that imparts an indescribably satisfying experience that even those who swear off fatty food guiltily indulge occasionally anyway — is part of our Spanish colonial legacy. The Filipinos have been so smitten with this Old World delicacy that our chicharrón culture and vocabulary have grown to include chicharon isaw (pork or chicken intestines), chicharon balat ng manok (chicken skin) and chicharon bulaklak (pork omentum). And that’s the short version of a much longer list. In other words, we love our chicharrón.
Mazemen is part of the Japanese ramen culture that my generation embraced with gusto, and which has become mainstream in my daughters’ generation. From instant noodle soups that first made an appearance in the groceries when I was in college, ramen has become the specialty of many Japanese and Japanese fusion restaurants.
In this chicharrónes mazemen dish, another Speedy Veneracion original, the noodles are tossed with garlic-infused soya oil and toasted garlic bits. Then, the chicharrónes and poached egg are added and, for the finishing touches, toasted black sesame seeds and torn cilantro.
A few notes before diving into the recipe:
1. Cook the noodles in salted water because very little seasoning later goes into the dish. Layer the flavors, as always.
2. Unlike pasta which is better off not doused with cold water after draining, ramen (along with most Asian noodles) benefit from an iced bath after the hot water has been drained off. Different noodle varieties come with different cooking instructions. Check package directions for recommended cooking time and procedure.
- 2 tsps. of soya oil
- 2 tsps. of minced garlic
- ramen (or your choice of Asian noodles) for two, cooked in salted boiling water
- a dash of rice vinegar (milder and sweeter than other vinegars)
- a dash of light soy sauce
- chopped chicharrónes, as much as you like
- 2 poached eggs (see how)
- toasted sesame seeds, to garnish
- cilantro, to garnish
- Heat the oil. With the stove set to medium, cook the garlic until golden brown and the oil has been infused with garlicky goodness.
- Turn off the heat. Add the noodles to the garlic and oil. Add the rice vinegar and light soy sauce. Toss to blend everything together.
- Divide the noodles between two bowls. Add the chicharrónes. Top with the poached eggs. Sprinkle in the toasted sesame seeds and cilantro. Serve at once.