Instant Pot Glazed Pork Belly Ramen (Carbs and Fewer Carbs)

ramen

Happy Sunday!

I am embarrassed by how long it has been since I’ve last posted. I think in addition to being caught up with life, I have been somewhat apprehensive to post what I make as I have been doing the Keto/Low-Carb lifestyle since the end of July. Not everyone is on the bandwagon, nor should anyone feel forced/pressured to do so by my posts. Sometimes, I do miss cooking my regular meals, but for now, this is the lifestyle that I am pursuing, and I am happy to report that it is one where I feel great. I’ve lost 37 pounds (with a goal to lose 10 more), but most importantly, I have a lot more energy. I’m not as sluggish. My knee pain I had from hiking has never returned.

I know a lot of people on the Keto/Low-Carb lifestyle tend to sound like a MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) campaign, but truthfully, it has worked for me. I don’t like condoning or promoting it, but somehow, my results have inspired tons of people around me to try the lifestyle as well. I have been called the “Unofficial Keto Coach,”and I am okay with it. I’ve been trying to inspire people more so to feel confident that they can make food that tastes worthwhile that meets their dietary preferences. All it takes is patience and a willingness to research.

My last post was my Keto Italian Meatballs.  They are delicious and remind me of what I ate growing up. Since I’ve started this blog, I refuse to a post a recipe until I am 100% satisfied. And for anyone who knows me, I am entirely too much of a perfectionist, and thus, my posts have slowed. But I am starting to realize that I have inspired a lot of people to try this diet, and while the trend is there, I figured–why not continue post what I make each night?

Since I’ve started my journey, I have been challenging myself to try to make foods that not only suit my nutritional needs and dietary preferences, but also dishes that my husband, and other members of my family, can equally enjoy. I love to entertain, so I try to make dishes that not only meet my “macros,” but also are delicious and satisfying for someone who isn’t necessarily eating this way.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that it is easy to make everything Low-Carb/Keto friendly. It isn’t–I’ve had enough failures and disappointments to know. Keto baking is especially a tough challenge, but I have learned to love making my Keto Blondies! I will post those soon and attach a link when I do.

When it comes to Keto/Low-Carb Cooking, I’ve learned that when I want to re-create something I’ve made before, I have to be able to use almost all of the same ingredients for it to be the most successful. If you make too many substitutions, it resembles nothing of the original recipe. For example, one of my first recipes I made for Keto was a Chocolate Cheesecake. All the ingredients that naturally are in cheesecake (cream, eggs, cream cheese, butter, etc.) are already Keto–I just needed to replace the sugar and the graham cracker crust. And now that I’ve done this type of eating for about six months, I’ve come to love the sugar substitutes like Monkfruit and Erythritol (Lakanto and Swerve are my favorite brands). The only thing I don’t love is the price tag for all of these products…but hey, hopefully with more demand over time, the prices will go down!

Okay, enough about the Keto/Low Carb Lifestyle. Let’s get to the Ramen!

So as I said, when I cook, it has to meet the needs/tastes of not only me, but also my husband. While I appreciate his support, the truth is, the man doesn’t want cauliflower rice every night. He wants and needs carbohydrates (his activity level is insane). And noodles, my friends, have plenty. But I wanted Ramen…and I thought about all my cooking adventures thus far. Bone broth is a Keto staple and is super healthy (collagen, anyone?) All the ingredients other than the noodles themselves are Keto, so I thought about what I’ve been using as my pasta replacement lately: Tofu Shirataki noodles. I am not going to lie–they are NOT pasta, but when used in a broth, they fit the Ramen bill, for sure. P.S: My favorite pasta replacement so far is Palmini Noodles (Hearts of Palm). That’s been the closest.

For this recipe, I wanted to utilize the one-pot-wonder–the Instant Pot. They’ve become so popularized and cost-effective lately, which makes me happy! I don’t use it all the time, but for this Ramen, the pressure cooker makes an excellent stock. In addition, I love the sweet and salty flavors of Asian cuisine, but I knew I couldn’t use regular sugar/brown sugar. So I’ve called in Brown Sugar Swerve for my glaze. Also, soy sauce is arguably somewhat low-carb (there’s debate on that–I don’t want to get into it). Most Keto/Low Carb bloggers will tell you to either purchase Coconut Aminos instead of Tamari (Gluten Free Soy Sauce). I have the latter, and I think it’s super flavorful and more accessible.

If you are looking for a recipe that you can make that is Keto/Low Carb that you can also share with someone who isn’t, this is the one! Just make the noodles separately and you’re good to go. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)

2 pound pork belly

2 tsp salt

1 cup yellow onion, chopped (about one large onion)

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced (or 1 teaspoon of dry ginger powder)

2 ounces of package dried shiitake mushrooms

8 cups beef broth, low sodium

4 tbsp soy sauce (I used Tamari–you can also use Coconut Aminos if you’re into that!)

4 tbsp Swerve brown sugar (if you’re not trying to make it Low Carb, use regular brown sugar)

2 package Ramen Noodles, flavor packet discarded (This is for the person eating regular noodles)

1 package of Tofu Shirataki Noodles, drained (Low Carb/Keto people only!)

1/2 cup green onions, chopped (optional)

A few shakes of Trader Joe’s Umami Seasoning (optional–two shakes per individual bowl, stir in the broth before serving)

Japanese marinated soft boiled eggs (optional) <–Note: these ingredients are not Keto/Low Carb, so you could just make a regular soft boiled egg. However, these are the flavors for the traditional soft boiled egg you get in a good Japanese place.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pat pork belly dry with a paper towel and sprinkle generously with salt.
  2. Put about a tablespoon of olive oil in the Instant Pot and put it on “saute” mode.
  3. Add pork belly to Instant Pot once it’s preheated, brown on 1 side for 3-4 minutes. Cook it with the fat cap down.
  4. Lift the pork belly up, and add onions. Stir around for a minute not to burn.
  5. Flip pork belly, brown on the other side 2-3 minutes and place on top of onions.
  6. Add garlic and ginger, cook 2 more minutes–stir occasionally.
  7. Hit “cancel” and then “pressure cook – high” and set for 25 minutes.
  8. Before closing the lid, add dried shiitake mushrooms and beef broth.
  9. Lock lid and switch pressure release button to “sealing”.
  10. While the Instant Pot is working its magic, take out the Tofu Shirataki noodles out of the package and drain/rinse well in a colander. (If you aren’t making anything Keto/Low-Carb, skip this step).
  11. Also during this time, you can make your soft boiled eggs (if you haven’t done so already–the fancy Japanese ones are linked to the ingredients above). Simply boil about 2 quarts of quarter and once it’s boiling, drop the eggs gently with a spider strainer and cook with the shell on for 6 1/2 minutes.
  12. While eggs are cooking, prepare an ice bath. Get a bowl and fill it with ice and extra cold water. You will put the eggs in the “ice bath” when they’re done cooking to stop them from overcooking!
  13. Once the eggs are cooked, put them immediately in the ice bath. You may peel them in about 5-10 minutes. You will slice them in half vertically for the best presentation.
  14. Pro Tip: Use the same boiling water for the regular Ramen. When you’re about ready to serve the Ramen, use the same water by cooking the Ramen for 3 minutes in the water, stirring occasionally. Drain.
  15. When the Instant Pot beeps, you may either quick release or slow release the pressure. I did a “quick release.”
  16. Once the pressure is released and you can open the lid, remove the pork belly and set aside on a cutting board.
  17. Slice pork belly into 1/2 inch slices.
  18. Add pork belly slices to a frying pan with soy sauce and brown sugar. Stir and make sure all pieces are coated.
  19. Work with a wooden spoon, being careful not to break up the pork belly and not to burn the sugar, slowly turn the pork belly so all pieces become evenly coated in the sugar mixture, this will take 3-4 minutes. It’ll turn like a reddish hue.
  20. Remove glazed pork belly slices, set aside.
  21. Drop Tofu Shirataki noodles into bowls for people who are Keto/Low Carb. Drop regular Ramen noodles for everyone else.
  22. Split broth into 4 large bowls for serving.
  23. Add a quarter of the pork belly slices to each bowl.
  24. Garnish with green onions and a soft-boiled egg sliced in half. (optional)

Kahlua Triple Chocolate Cheesecake with Oreo Crust (Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot)

Chocolate Cheesecakeimage2

Happy Wednesday!

My brother loves chocolate cheesecake, and my father, once an avid baker, would normally heed the request. However, my father has fallen off the baking trail for a while, and the torch has been passed to me. I was told I needed to make this chocolate cheesecake for his belated birthday celebration, or I would be excommunicated from the family forever.

*Not exactly, but my family’s cunning use of guilt could be perceived as such!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love making cheesecake, but it’s very time consuming. My typical cheesecake takes me a solid 2 1/2-3 hours to prep and bake, and an overnight time for the cake the set up. It’s so hot in July, and I try my best not to turn on my oven unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Luckily, I recently purchased an Instant Pot on Amazon Prime Day, the latest crave in the pressure cooker community. I was hesitant to purchase one because I don’t like to buy gimmicky, unnecessary appliances–ever. But I did enough research and was intrigued with the idea that the Instant Pot could not only expedite cooking though the powers of pressure cooking, but it can also act as a slow cooker, a yogurt maker, and it has a sauté option to help sear meat, and  to help get a kickstart on aromatics. It sounded too good to be true, and although I don’t think it is a machine that would replace my trusty stovetop and oven for good, it’s definitely a winner. Especially for custardy desserts like cheesecake!

When I saw this pressure cooker could be used for cheesecake, I was skeptical. But I was also intrigued because I thought about my cardinal rule for making cheesecake: I always create a waterbath to prevent cracks and general overcooking. The pressure cooker, or in my case, the Instant Pot, is essentially steaming my cheesecake just the same by putting two cups of water underneath the rack-raised cheesecake. Because it’s a countertop appliance, I am not raising the temperature in my apartment one bit! No oven needed! Additionally, because it is a pressure cooker, my cheesecake only needed 28 minutes of active cooking time versus the hours I have wasted before.

If you’ve made cheesecakes before, you know the usual drill: bake the cheesecake for an hour, open the oven door while shutting off the heat for another hour, and then you need to cool it on a rack for some time. With this appliance, or any other pressure cooker, you can make your cheesecake and cool it in under an hour. And if you’re afraid that a pressure cooker is going to texturally change the cheesecake–it doesn’t. It tastes as if you baked in the oven, and this way it is guaranteed to be silky, creamy, and smooth!

My one note of caution is this: remember the inactive times associated with a pressure cooker. Yes, pressure cookers advertise times that seem incredible, like this one–but it takes time for the pressure cooker to “preheat” (about 10-15 minutes), and most importantly, time for the machine to depressurize (super important–you NEVER want to open your pressure cooker prematurely–it’s dangerous!), which is approximately 15-20 minutes depending on what you’re making. Because this cheesecake has two cups of water, it does not take too long at all to depressurize. And whatever you do, don’t rush the process! Do not do a so-called quick release–the cheesecake is continuing to cook as it is depressurizing, and this amount of steam release is not gentle enough for this dessert.

In a nutshell, the convenience of the instant pot and the perfected results is making me forgo the use of my oven for a cheesecake ever again! For this recipe, you don’t even have to bake the crust either as it’s prepared and then set in the freezer for ten minutes!

In addition to having excellent cooking results, this cheesecake is of course powered by great ingredients. I use Kahlua (or any coffee-based liqueur) to enhance the chocolate flavor. I also use my higher end vanilla extract. My favorite is Nielsen-Massey’s  Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract, which you can easily grab on Amazon.

I also believe in using good chocolate, but for some reason, I find this triple chocolate needs the milk chocolate to distinguish itself from the bittersweet ganache topping and the oreo crust. If you prefer a different chocolate, go for it!

Other recommended equipment (helpful, but not necessary): Food Processor (I have an immersion blender, so I have a small hand food processor attachment I use to crush the oreos) and my trusty Kitchenaid Stand Mixer. Also, make sure you know what size pan you’re using because a larger cheesecake cannot be made in the pressure cooker as it is too large. A 7 inch springform pan is a must!

Ingredients

Crust
    • 20 whole Oreo cookies (yes, even the white part!)
    • 4 tbsp of unsalted butter, melted then cooled
Cheesecake
    • 1 lb room temperature cream cheese, room temperature for two hours
    • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup white sugar
    • 1 whole egg – room temperature
    • 2 egg yolks – room temperature
    • 1/4 cup sour cream
    • 8 oz of chocolate (I used Hershey’s milk chocolate, but you can use bittersweet chocolate if that’s your preference)
    • 1 tsp higher end vanilla extract
    • 1 tablespoon of Kahlua or coffee-based liqueur
    • 1 tbsp flour (optional–I did not use this)
    • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
Ganache
  • 3/4 cup  bittersweet chocolate chips (or a bar–you’re just melting it, so it does not matter)
  • 3 oz heavy whipping cream (or half and half)

Instructions

    1. Spray the 7″ springform pan with cooking spray.
    2. Add two cups of water to the instant pot and place the rack on the bottom.
    3. Make a tin foil sling to lift the cheesecake in and out of the Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Essentially, you are folding a piece of tin that’s long enough to be able scoop out your cheesecake.
Crust
    1. In a food processor, combine the whole Oreo cookies and the butter. If you don’t have a food processor, put the cookies in a plastic bag and break them up with a heavy item like a rolling pin, until you have fine crumbs.
    2. Pour the crumb butter mixture into the bottom of the pan and pat until it is evenly distributed on the bottom. Put in freezer for 10 minutes.
Cheesecake
    1. In a food processor or stand mixer (I use my stand mixer for this step), mix the cream cheese with dark brown sugar, white sugar, and cocoa powder.
    2. Once combined, add one egg followed by the two egg yolks.
    3. Add the melted chocolate and sour cream.
    4. Continually scrape the bowl down. Add Kahlua, vanilla, and flour  (flour is optional) and mix until creamy.
    5. Pour mixture into the springform pan and smooth with a spatula.
    6. Place pan on the tin foil sling and slowly lower into the Instant Pot.
    7. Set Instant Pot to maximum pressure for 28 minutes.
    8. Once done, turn machine off and let it return to normal pressure for 15 minutes.
    9. Unlock lid and use sling to transfer pan to cooling rack for an hour.
    10. Chill in refrigerator overnight.
Ganache
    1. Put the 3/4 cup of chocolate in a bowl.
    2. Heat the heavy whipping cream to a simmer. Pour over chocolate.
    3. Chocolate will melt, stir until incorporated. Once incorporated, use a spatula and spread over the top of the cake.
    4. Put back in refrigerator to cool.
    5. If you like, use a vegetable peeler and slide the peeler on chocolate for chocolate curls for garnish and/or crumble some oreos!
Recipe Source (but modified by Lei Mangia): SerenaLissy.com