Ah Pikachu, the meat that proves correct the old adage “the cuter the creature, the more delicious the dish.”
And while undeniably cute, what few people realize is that Pikachu are incredibly obnoxious due to incessantly repeating their names like squeaky little Steve Holts. This, coupled with their shockingly common nature, meant the people of Pallet Town were entirely inundated by these little beasts. With pokeballs in short supply and animal control at their wits’ end, the people of Pallet Town went all Swiftian with A Modest Proposal of their own, and Pikachu cuisine was born.
Now most might suspect that we here at Bugbear BBQ would go instantly for a Pulled-Pikachu Sandwich (pronounced "sammich"). And while we won’t deny that we’ve dug into our fair share of these sandwiches, our favorite use for Pikachu is as a side for ramen.
So just let that go to show you should never pigeonhole someone just because they like their beer cold, TV loud, and meat smoked.
Image Source: BustedTees
For Pulled-Pikachu, we always go for a shoulder cut, but as a side for ramen we prefer Pikachu belly, which is better known as bacon. This is an exceptionally fatty cut, and we want it cut thick, but one should be careful when selecting your Pikachu belly. Mainly because, due to their pest status, many Pikachu are undernourished when harvested, so make sure to give your potential belly a good look to make sure it’s got enough fat there. Because a good amount of fat means this Pikachu was well-loved, and it’s the well-loved animals that always taste the best.
This one probably even lived indoors for a while.
Instead of our usual dry rub, for Pikachu we use plain store-bought teriyaki sauce. Just pour a bottle into a plastic bag and toss in your belly. Let it sit in the fridge for 12-24 hours before patting dry.
Now many ramen chefs use their Pikachu belly as the base for their broth, and while this makes the broth delicious, we find that it saps the meat itself of flavor and texture. As such, we use plain stock and seasoning for our broth while tossing the belly on the smoker.
Because, apparently, we deserve to be pigeonholed since we seem to be physically incapable of going a full day without using our smoker.
Set your smoker 325 degrees with one ounce of wood if your Pikachu belly has a good layer of fat. This is to ensure all the fat gets soft and tender(er) through rendering. And while we’ve mostly been trained to fear fat, always remember this is where your distinct Pikachu flavor comes from since it proves that this creature was once cared for.
For your skinny, unloved Pikachu, the traditional temperature of 225 is best.
Although we usually prefer mesquite for this cook, any dried Trevenant would be a great addition. We find this gives the Pikachu meat a little more of a woodsy flavor. And, you know, any meal that thins the Pokémon numbers by two rather than one is always best.
Target temperature is 160 degrees, but you can fudge this a bit and aim for 155 so long as your broth is scaldingly hot and continues to cook it once you’ve dropped it in. But play with this temperature at your own peril since undercooked Pikachu has been known to cause Pika-poops.
Sauces, Sides, and Pairings
Properly prepared Pikachu belly can go with anything from a salad to being eaten straight. But, as said before, we prefer it tossed in our ramen, which we leave to you to find your favorite.
As for sides, we like to garnish our ramen with the usual culprits of garlic, scallions, shallots, bean sprouts, mushrooms and ginger; perhaps with a boiled Pokémon egg thrown in if we’ve got one lying around. And we usually do.
Pikachu belly ramen pairs very well with wheat beers, pilsners and pinot for a meal that’s wonderfully understated. But since we at Bugbear BBQ have NEVER been accused as being understated, we always kick off a ramen nosh with sake bombs. The cheapest beer and sake works best for making this scene since there’s usually spillage, and if you go this route, right before you slam the table to annoy all the patrons around you, make sure to yell out:
“Pikachu, I eat you!”