So its been a good long while since I’ve written anything here and much has changed. For starters, I am no longer a vegan or vegetarian (not for any real reason). The recipe I’m going to share with you today is what got me off the track about a year or so ago, and I just never jumped back on. Wagons aren’t really my thing. Anyway, on to today’s topic.
As the title of this post proudly proclaims, I absolutely love Ramen.
There is something magical about this noodle soup that is very hard to describe. There’s no set in stone style or recipe to it, the dish varies incredibly from region to region. While it’s most popular in Japan, it has been making inroads here in the states as well. Obviously, most of us are familiar with the instant version that we all depended on in college because we couldn’t afford anything else, but real ramen is something of a totally different animal. With a complexity of flavor and simple ingredients, a good ramen evokes wonderment and warmth in layers.
I spent a solid 8 months working out my own ramen recipe and while its not traditional in the least, or as complex as the ramen of Japan, I think it is a decent and fairly easy to make variant that takes a little less time and has easier to find ingredients. My ramen broth is a pork broth made from neck bones (very easy to find and extremely cheap), some common vegetables, bonito flakes, sea weed, and then seasoned with a tare. A tare is just a flavoring added to the finished broth, usually to add some saltiness and intensity. In our house I like a strong broth whereas Mel prefers just the base broth which is why the recipe lists adding the tare to individual bowls but you can just as easily add it to the whole pot.. Typically I serve it topped with thin sliced Char Siu, a chinese style roast pork shoulder which will be a post in and of itself soon. Other common toppings I use are grilled bok choy, mung bean sprouts, naruto fish cake and occasionally a soft boiled egg. Toppings can be really whatever you like so go crazy with it.
The only things I don’t really include are the noodles themselves. Sometimes I make them by hand and other times I will use store bought instant because I’m feeling lazy. I leave the decision of noodles up to you- there are plenty of recipes in the wild for hand pulled or hand cut noodles which tend to be best, but if you don’t want to do that much work then instant is usually fine. If you are lucky enough to have a store nearby that caters to these kinds of things, you can pick up fresh noodles. I like them thick and chewy myself.
This is one of my favorite recipes and make it often on Sunday afternoons when I’m working around the house or in the yard. Give this a try sometime and I’m sure you’ll never want to use those horrifyingly unhealthy flavor packets again.
- 2 lbs pork bones(necks are preferable)
- 2 pieces of kombu or dried seaweed
- 1-2 packages of kotsuabushi(dried bonito flakes)
- 1.5 ounces dried shitaake mushrooms
- 1 white onion (chopped in half) or green onion trimmings(the white part)
- 5 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1/4 cup Soy Sauce(roughly, taste as you go)
- 1/4 cup Mirin
- 1/8 cup Fish Sauce
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1/4 tsp Sesame oil
- Grated fresh ginger, about an inch
- Take 2 lbs of pork bones(necks are preferable) and roast in oven for 1 hour at 425 degrees, flipping halfway.
- While pork bones are roasting fill a stock pot with 6 quarts of water and add 2 pieces of Kombu or other dried seaweed such as wakame. Bring kombu to a low simmer for half an hour then add shitaake mushrooms and let sit for another half hour.
- Add katsuabushi to pot and let sit for about 5-10 minutes. Strain broth (which is actually a dashi at this point) to remove seaweed, mushrooms and katsuabushi flakes. Return pot to burner.
- Add onion, garlic, and other liquids to the pot. Do not let water come to a boil.
- Remove pork bones from oven, they should be browned on all sides, and add to the pot. Deglaze pan with water and scrape leftover bits into the pot.
- Let stock pot simmer for several hours, periodically tasting the broth. You will notice it thicken and intensify in flavor over time. This can take anywhere from 3-7 hours.
- When broth has reached desired flavor and the leftover meat on the bones just falls away, strain the broth of all solids and defat the broth.
- Bring broth to a low boil and reduce broth by at least a third( reduce more for a thicker more concentrated broth)
- Prepare noodles, do not cook all the way through, you want noodles to be a little chewey.
- Mix ingredients for tare in bowls you will be serving the ramen in, typically 1/2 teaspoon or more for each ingredient.
- Add hot broth, noodles, and whatever toppings you like. Common toppings are shredded pork char siu, fast pickled cucumbers, grilled bok choy,grilled tofu, bean sprouts, and soft/hard boiled eggs.
- Mirin(sweeted sake), 3 tbsp if seasoning whole pot or 1/2 - 1 tsp for individual bowl
- Soy Sauce, 3 tbsp if seasoning whole pot or 1/2 - 1 tsp for individual bowl
- Chili Garlic Sauce, 3 tbsp if seasoning whole pot or 1/2 - 1 tsp for individual bowl
- Combine ingredients and add to finished broth.