Why It Works
- Curing the pork for 24 hours enhances the texture of the meat and improves moisture retention.
- Cooking the pork with flavorful liquid in the sealed bag seasons the exterior of the meat.
- Cooking the pork at a low temperature for an extended period of time produces tender meat that still retains some bite.
- Using an ice bath to rapidly chill the meat makes it much easier to slice clean serving portions.
Chashu, the roasted or braised pork typically used to top bowls of ramen, is just as delicious when made from pork shoulder as when it's made from belly. In fact, many people prefer chashu that's made from pork shoulder, since it's a meatier cut.
The shoulder can be tied and braised in the same way as the pork belly in Kenji's braised-chashu recipe, but it can also be cooked sous vide, which gives the cook total control over what temperature the pork is cooked to. This recipe recommends cooking the pork to 145°F (63°C).
- 1/2 ounce (14g) kosher salt (see note)
- 1/2 ounce (14g) granulated sugar (see note)
- 1 pork shoulder roast (about 2 pounds; 900g)
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) mirin
Combine salt and sugar in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.
Place pork shoulder roast in a zip-top bag. Pour salt-sugar mixture into bag and massage mixture evenly into meat. Seal bag, trying to avoid leaving much air inside. Place bag in refrigerator for 24 hours. Roughly every 8 hours, massage bag and flip it over to ensure even distribution of the cure.
Set up an immersion circulator and preheat a water bath to 145°F (63°C).
Remove roast from zip-top bag and place on a cutting board. Discard liquid in bag and blot roast completely dry. Using kitchen twine, tie roast at 1/2-inch intervals to form a neat cylinder.
Place roast back in zip-top bag and add soy sauce and mirin. Seal bag using the water-displacement method. Alternatively, if using a vacuum sealer, transfer the roast to a sealable vacuum bag, add soy sauce and mirin, and seal.
Place bagged roast in water bath and cook for 20 hours.
Remove bag and place in an ice bath to chill roast thoroughly. Remove roast from bag and blot dry.
If Finishing Under the Broiler: Place roast on a rimmed baking sheet. Adjust oven rack so that the roast will be about 1 inch away from the broiler element. Preheat broiler to high. When broiler is hot, place roast under broiler, turning frequently, until exterior is charred, about 5 minutes.
If Finishing With a Handheld Torch: Turn on torch and char exterior of roast on all sides.
The roast can be sliced and served immediately, or sliced and stored for future use (see Make-Ahead and Storage, below).
The amount of salt-sugar cure should be adjusted if you're using a pork roast that's slightly larger or slightly smaller than 2 pounds. Use 3% of the weight of the pork roast in salt-sugar cure mixture.
If you'd like to cook the pork to a different temperature, the cooking time will have to be adjusted accordingly. As a general rule, if you're using a lower temperature, the pork must cook for a longer time; if you're using a higher temperature, the pork will cook for a shorter time.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Once cooked, sous vide chashu that has been tightly wrapped in plastic will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator. If sliced into portions, tightly wrapped, and placed in a freezer bag, sous vide chashu will keep for 3 months, with only slight degradation in quality.