I use the word “Asian” loosely in this recipe because the dish is a mishmash of flavours from a variety of countries. The pork belly seasonings can be Chinese or Japanese, the fried shallots are more of a Southeast Asian touch, while the nori and shichimi togarashi (a chilli-flecked seven-spice mixture) are definitely Japanese.
Carbonara, of course, is an Italian dish with a raw egg yolk and guanciale (cured pork jowl) cooked together to create a rich, thick sauce that coats the pasta.
Usually, if you see the word "braised" in a recipe name, it's for a dish that will take several hours to prepare. The meat for this dish takes a relatively short time because it's cut into small pieces, and needs only about 45 minutes to simmer into submission, then another 15 minutes to reduce the sauce. The hardest part of making it is cutting up the pork belly - the skin is hard to slice through, but it adds a wonderful sticky richness when it's cooked. The pork belly should be very cold (in fact, freeze it for about 15 minutes) so it's easier to slice. It is also easier to cut if the pork belly is skin side down on the cutting board.
Fresh egg noodles usually come in bundles that weigh between 120g-150g. I find 120g is plenty for me, but cook the amount that’s appropriate for the appetites of those you are serving.
A dashi bag looks like a tea bag and it's the Japanese equivalent of a bouillon cube (only better). Soak it in boiling hot water for a few minutes to make an umami-rich stock. If you don’t have a dashi bag, use unsalted chicken broth or plain water.
Cut the pork belly into small pieces that are about 8mm x 8mm (⅜in x ⅜in). Put the pieces in a pan and add the soy sauce, rice wine, sugar and salt. Place the ginger on a cutting board and whack it with a meat mallet or the side of a cleaver, to crush it lightly. Put the garlic and ginger in the pan.
Put the dashi bag into a cup and add 250ml (1 cup) of boiling water. Leave for a few minutes, then remove the bag. Add 150ml (¾ cup) of the dashi stock (or chicken broth or water) to the pan and bring to the boil over a medium flame. Lower the heat, cover the pan with the lid and simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 45 minutes, or until the pork is very tender. Check the consistency of the sauce: it should be glossy and sticky. If necessary, simmer the ingredients, uncovered and stirring often, until the sauce lightly coats the meat; if it seems dry, add more of the dashi stock. Remove the ginger and garlic cloves.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add the egg noodles and cook until done to your liking, then drain. Add the sesame oil and mix to coat the noodles. Chop the spring onions into 5mm (¼in) pieces
Divide the noodles between four bowls. Spoon the pork belly (with sauce) over the noodles, then add the spring onions and a small handful of shredded nori to each portion. Make an indentation in the centre of the noodles and add some fried shallots. Crack the eggs, separating the white from the yolk. (Reserve the egg whites for another use.) Put the egg yolk on top of the fried shallots in the centre of the bowl and sprinkle lightly with shichimi togarashi. Sprinkle some sesame seeds over the pork and serve immediately. Each diner should mix the ingredients thoroughly so the egg yolk and braised pork belly sauce combine to thickly coat the noodles.