If there is one food I have become utterly addicted to since moving to the States, it has got to be ramen. No, I am not talking about those little packets of instant noodles with sachets of seasoning (c’mon, I thought you knew me at this stage!)
What I mean is big steaming bowls of slowly simmered broth, laden with noodles, vegetables and small amount of delicous meat. Regional variations encourage me to try different bowls but I often come back to Sapporo style ramen. More information on regional ramen styles can be found here and here, it is a veritable treasure trove of learning!
This style of ramen involves a rich broth, often with a miso base, that is heated in small batches in a wok with a paste of miso and spices. I have made a slow simmered broth using pig bones. It can be a long and satisfying process. However, I am not going to attempt to teach you how to make it all from scratch. It maybe more of a mission than is worth for you. Instead, you might like to give my cheats ramen a try. It is the closest I have come to replicating my beloved dishes from Japanese restaurants around Boston.
I have been lucky enough to be working as a culinary assistant on occasion to two wonderful jewish ladies who are lifelong foodies. They own over 1000 cookbooks and are sponges for new food cultures! Last week, we began filming their new TV show (I promise I will let you know when it will air!). What was on the menu, only ramen! Imagine my delight in prepping and assembling one for the show!
Cheats Homemade Ramen:
If you are going to venture into making ramen, you could do as I did the first time and make an 18 hour pork broth using pork bones and a pigs trotter. Its a long process and delicous no doubt. I have to be honest here and say that I feel it didn’t make enough of a difference to encourage me to do it again! Instead, I have since been using homemade chicken stock as the base and jazzing this up with a kick-ass paste which I have shared below.
Ramen can be as simple or as complicated as you wish. Yes, you need the exotic ingredients but once you have your store cupboard stocked, its easy to create again and again. I like to serve mine with chewy noodles, fresh corn, finely sliced scallions and the amazing broth. Depending on what I have in the fridge, I will add some pork, leftover cooked chicken or anything I can find. My one non-negotiable is the egg!
- 150g White Miso paste
- 1 small onion, cut into chunks
- 6 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 2″ of ginger, cut into chunks
- 50 ml of mirin
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 tsp of sesame paste – I use tahini
To marinate the egg:
- One egg.
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1 tsp brown sugar
To Assemble the ramen for 2:
- 500ml best quality chicken stock
- 1 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 200g ramen noodles – I like the bite you get from fresh noodles
- 4 scallions, finely sliced
- 80g fresh corn, blanched and refreshed
- Other toppings – sliced pork, minced pork, bean sprouts, sliced nori, basically anything you could imagine!
For the egg:
- Place the egg into medium heat boiling water and then let it simmer for 6 minutes.
- Drain the water and very carefully peel the egg in cold water. The egg will very soft and delicate so be gentle. Older eggs make this process easier!
- Place the peeled egg in a bowl with the soy, mirin and the sugar and marinate while you bring together the other elements.
For the paste:
- Stick all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and blitz to a fine paste. You may need to add a splash of water to loosen the paste.
- Place the chicken stock in a saucepan with the star anise and the cinnamon.
- Bring to a gentle simmer. whisk in 2-3 tablespoons of the ramen paste to your taste. The rest can be stored in the freezer. I always double the recipe and freeze portions in Ice cube trays for instant access to ramen!
- In a separate pan, bring some water to the boil for the noodles. Add the noodles and cook for 2 minutes.
- Finally – bring it all together. Place the cooked noodles in a deep bowl. Add the broth and then the scallions and corn. Top with meat if you are using.
- Last but not least, remove the egg from the marinade and slice in half – Be careful, it will be very soft but that is what you want!
- Float the egg into the broth and enjoy your masterpiece!