If you've never made dashi, now's the time to try. Unlike long-simmering bone stocks that take hours of reducing and skimming, all dashi requires is combining kombu (edible kelp) with water and smoky bonito flakes for about half an hour. The result is an umami-loaded broth that forms the base of miso soup and countless other Japanese dishes. It also means you can make these Noodles in Dashi with Miso-Coated Pork Belly, a dish that comes out of Japan's Okinawa region, where the food is unlike anywhere else in the country.
The browned pork belly is tossed with red miso paste, which is fermented for longer than its lighter counterpart, and as a result is more keenly flavored. In addition to miso, the pork is tossed with awamori, mirin, and dark brown sugar, then cooked down until it picks up a sticky, caramelized glaze. Blanched mung beans and the noodles are added to ladled out bowls of dashi broth, then topped with the pork, thinly sliced scallions, and chile threads. The result is a sweet but salty umami punch that will inspire you to discover more of the region’s unique culinary treasures.