Ramen Part 3
This was an undertaking of epic proportions. Everything was from scratch. As you may know from previous Ramen posts (here and here), I am a huge fan of authentic Japanese ramen, the kind that people in Tokyo sometimes wait in line for for more than an hour. While I'm under no illusions that my ramen is anything close to what you can get in the best ramen shops in Japan or even NYC, I do think it has improved significantly since the first time I attempted it last summer.
There were two motives behind this task. First, there's nowhere in Sarasota to get ramen, although I predict ramen shops eventually catching on in the states, just as sushi has. Second, I wanted to know how everything was done. This wasn't easy. There are suprising few recipes out there for real hard core ramen, partly, I've heard, because most accomplished ramen chefs are fairly secretive about their exact methods. By cobbling together directions and recipes from 2 or 3 Japanese cookbooks and a few websites, as well as my own recent ramen experiences, I came up with something that failed to reach the orgasmic nature of the bowl I had at Minca in NYC, but was nonetheless lightyears beyond my last batch of ramen.
I started the day before by making the noodles. That's right, I made the noodles. They were easily the weakest part of the final dish. At first I used too little flour and the noodles stuck together. Then I used too much flour, making the noodles a little too al dente, even after cooking them thoroughly.
The pork, on the other hand, was amazing. I believe it was just as good as the pork at Minca. After searing it in the wok with ginger, garlic, and scallions, I let it slow cook in the oven for about 5 hours in a soy, sake, water mixture. I couldn't get the nice thin slices that you find in many bowls of ramen, but it was some of the most tender, delicious pork I've ever had, and given how cheap Boston butt is down here I definitely recommend it as a roast recipe.
The toppings were largely inspired by the Minca experience, but the broth was more of a miso ramen, as opposed to a shoyu ramen, which has more of a soy sauce base.
Anyhow, it all started 2 months ago, when I made a huge batch of chicken stock. Setting some of it aside in my wok I added ginger and a little napa cabbage and let it simmer for a few more hours, then froze it into ice cube trays. So after thawing a few pints of this I combined it with some thawed cubes of dashi stock, which Renee gave me for Christmas. I just have to pause and reflect on how cool it is that I have the kind of friend who would give me frozen dashi stock cubes for Christmas.
We also had eaten as an appetizer a nice tuna tataki, which will probably be in the next post. I need to dispense with the habit of constantly eating while I'm cooking, because I'm too often half-full by the time dinner is ready. Somehow I still made room for some of Nick's strawberry cobbler, which he made from strawberries he had picked earlier that day.
So, without further ado, allow me to introduce to the world wide web my amateur, but tasty nonetheless, recipe for Miso Ramen.
(There are enough stock recipes out there that there's no reason for me to print mine. Just make sure that you add a whole bunch of ginger and some nappa cabbage to a least a good portion of your total batch of stock, and simmer for several more hours)
3 cups flour to start, about 2 cups to add gradually
Vegetable oil (optional)
1) In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Make a well in the center and add the eggs. Slowly whisk with a fork until it begins to form a ball.
2) On a flat surface knead the dough, adding more flour when it gets sticky.
3) Let dough rest for a half hour. If you don't have a pasta machine you need go no further unless you are practiced in the ancient art of cutting thin pasta by hand. If you do, put it on a setting spaghetti size or (hopefully) smaller.
4) when cut, make serving size nests of pasta and allow to dry for at least an hour or more. They are then ready to boil--it should take about 3 minutes.
5) If you want to preserve them for a while, you can deep fry the nests in veggie oil. Once cooled, they are ready to boil.
1 1/2 lbs Pork Shoulder with fat, trussed with butcher's twine
5 scallions, green part, crushed
4 cloves garlic
1 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups water
4 Tbsp shoyu (Japanese light soy sauce, regular soy is fine though)
3 Tbsp sake
2 Tbsp confectioner's sugar
1) Heat the oil in a wok, add the scallions and ginger, and stir fry for less than one minute, add garlic and stir fry for another 20 seconds or so
2) Add the pork, turning it with a pair of tongs so that very side is well seared
3) Add the water, shoyu, sake, and sugar, mixing well, and bring to a boil
4) Turn heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes
5) At this point, you may want to add more liquid (same ratios) and transfer to a dutch overn or casserole. Cover tightly and set in the oven at 200 degrees and leave as long as you like. At least 4 hours. Be sure to turn the pork occasionally if it is not completely submerged.
6) Slice thinly - it is now ready to be placed in the ramen.
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
4 Tbsp. miso paste
1/2 cup of stock
1/2 tsp. chili oil
1) Sautee the garlic in the oil and sesame oil.
2) Just as the garlic starts to brown, add the miso paste and a little bit of the stock to thin it out.
3) Gradually add more stock until the paste reaches the consistency of melted peanut butter, then add the chili oil and blend.
The eggs were hard-boiled, then soaked overnight in a mixture of 3 parts soy sauce, to 1 part water and 1 part mirin, with a little bit of fish sauce added.
There are limitless possibilities where toppings are concerned. I decided to go simple for this dish. Apart from the pork, which tends to be a staple in most ramen, I went with some wakame, sliced scallions, and a hard-boiled egg marinated over night in a mixture of soy sauce and mirin, then halved.
The assembly was fairly simple. A couple spoonfuls of base in the bottom of the bowl, tong in the noodles, ladle in the "soup," mix up a little, and add the toppings. Serve with some white pepper or a bit of chili oil. Eat.
Posted by Kitchen Monkey at 8:38 PM