1.07.2005

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)


THE NOODLES

3 cups flour to start, about 2 cups to add gradually
4 eggs
salt
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.

THE PORK

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

INSTRUCTIONS:
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.

THE BASE

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

Instructions:
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.

The TOPPINGS

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.

ASSEMBLY

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.

17 comments:

drbiggles said...

Alright man, I went home and attempted the noodles. My wife bought a pasta machine years ago and never used it, so I figured this was a good time. I did some research on the web and everyone mentions something about NOT attempting this in humid weather, unless you're good. Well, this time of year is basically WET. Great time for pasta! It took nearly twice the amount of flour. Sticky stuff man. It all came out fine though. I think I'm going to go git me some semolina flour instead of the white unbleached white stuff I used.

Biggles / http://www.meathenge.com/

Kitchen Monkey said...

You are right, Dr. Biggles. The mistake was mine. In hurrying to finish a post that was much longer than usual, I left out a crucial point. 3 cups of flour to START with and another TWO cups to add gradually during the kneading process. Unless you're one of those fancy people who has a mixer. I am not. In any case, Kitchen Monkey is ashamed, and has fixed the post. So anybody reading these comments, go with 3 cups to start and add however much is necessary to make the dough firm. Two cups usually does it, but if its humid, as Biggles said, you might need to add more.

Kitchen Monkey said...

And allow me to remind everybody that this recipe is a work in progress, so all tips are extremely welcome.

The pork, however, is bonafide.

drbiggles said...

Ah, that's fine. I was kneading with one hand and had a dough scraper in the other. MmMMMm, pork.

Biggles

drbiggles said...

Hey Chimpy,

I put up my noodle adventure at meathenge, linked to yer site. Go see!

Biggles

Anonymous said...

Found a couple of pages on Ramen that might interest you:

http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1239757 - a history and a ramen recipe that you can adapt from, including extra ingredients

and, as always - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramen

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ChroniclesofChaos said...

Hey there!

You weren't kidding when you mentioned there are surprisingly few miso base receipes for miso ramen!

I sussed thru every googled result and still no go.

Ah well... will try out what you have advised.

Pray for me! heh!

(Cool that you have a cooking blog out there! Will definitely snoop on you from time to time!)

Anonymous said...

i tried your recipe. it's AWESOME! very tasty. thank you so much!

ps: i added some sugar to the soup though, and i couldn't wait for 4 hours for the pork. i also didn't bother to marinate the egg overnight. but still very delicious.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I enjoyed your ramen article and especially the photo. This will make a good away icon when I go for my ramen lunches.
Anyway, since your recipe is a work in progress, I'll tell you that I don't think the eggs in "real" ramen are hard-boiled. I believe they are prepared as "salted eggs", where they are soaked in a salty brine for a long, long time. You might give that a try to boost the "authenticity" of your dish.
That being said, I am now eager to try your pork preparation...

Anonymous said...

Hi! I enjoyed your ramen article and especially the photo. This will make a good away icon when I go for my ramen lunches.
Anyway, since your recipe is a work in progress, I'll tell you that I don't think the eggs in "real" ramen are hard-boiled. I believe they are prepared as "salted eggs", where they are soaked in a salty brine for a long, long time. You might give that a try to boost the "authenticity" of your dish.
That being said, I am now eager to try your pork preparation...

Kiki said...

I have not attempted your recipe yet, I did however spend the entire day yesterday making the stock for my own ramen recipe. By the time it was complete it was close to midnight and I was unable to eat in until tonight. My recipe was not a total success (more like a commercial bowl of for a shopping centre in Kyoto) but I believe once combine with yours it will be close to matching one of the bowl from a Tokyo back ally. Well, at least I hope so!