I set out to take the first post of 2014 easy… I did. I thought perhaps a harmless little breakfast pancake can be nice, glistening syrup under the hopeful morning light that symbolizes a new start within me… Or, perhaps, a statement-recipe like a creme brûlée and ham french toasts-sandwich that’s simple, but flaunting and strange enough to revitalize this blog’s otherwise-subtle individuality in the year to come… Or better yet, perhaps a complete slacker-post on a summary of everything that could and has gone wrong in my kitchen in 2013… kinda hey~ here’s a fine collection of things you probably don’t wanna eat but don’t I sound really cute talking about it?
But instead, this came out… And believe me, although it may not look remotely that way, this is taking-it-easy, well… as far as Japanese ramen goes.
Before you check out and mark this url as the blog on everything you would never wanna make in your own home, you are… probably half-right but NOT on this particular example. Because I agree with you! Only insane, impractical, pretentious human beings with no job, no kid, no real-life obligations whatsoever could have the time and energy to even fondle with the idea of making a proper bowl of Japanese ramen in their own kitchen. Yes. That’s not
me you. Who’s got the kind of freaking zen to spend 24 hours babysitting a pot of stock to milky-death, and prepare every single other gazillion components individually on the side to have them come together at last as a harmonic unison that’d be gone in 15 min?
me you. I get that.
So this is not that, meaning a proper bowl of Japanese ramen. No. I’m not showing you a way in. In fact, I’m talking about a way out, a way out of bleeding sweat and tears since Tuesday just so you can have a bowl of noodles to eat on Sunday. A way to fake a bowl of noodle that looks, and smells, and perhaps even tastes like a proper bowl of ramen in a fraction of time.
This way out, in specific, is called soy milk.
No, I didn’t come up with that. But I would love to thank the dude who did, this dude who used soy milk in his chicken soup that inspired me to replicate… only if I can remember his url from 5 years ago… Seriously, if you are that dude, please enter your website here so I can pay my gratitude. Because you rock, dude. This technique works brilliantly, as it adds color, richness, depth and flavour to the otherwise clear and obviously labour-free stock. It fakes the otherwise God-damn-unattainable milkiness that’s so freaking paramount in tonkotsu/pork bone-based ramen, without out-of-sync flavour-profile whereas say, cream, would just be completely wrong. And speaking of flavour, why not soy the shit out of it. A classic ramen flavour by mixing 2 different miso pastes (soy.) that’s spiced up with sichuan douban chili paste (more soy!!), plus have you heard? Minced pork is lazy fucker’s way to meat.
Nirvanically Good. Nirvanic. Not to mention that it was put together in about 3 hours, with most of the time going into 2 dangling eggs (perfectly soft-boiled if I may point out) sitting quietly in soy sauce to acquire enough colour… hardly any work to speak of.
Hell yeah it’s cheating. You cheat. I cheat. Everybody cheats. I mean it is after all, the beginning of a new year. So let’s take it easy.
PS: Thanks to reader, Seika, the dude is found: http://norecipes.com/blog/chicken-ramen-recipe/
OK I know I know… you might be thinking WTF, Mandy.. What’s up with the super long recipes. I thought you said this is supposed to be express? IT IS, I SWEAR! The ingredient list may look misleadingly long but the preparation is super easy! Guaranteed success as long as you follow a couple of the notes below… shhhh… just a couple:
It’s important that you use unsalted, or minimally salted stock for this recipe. I always store homemade, unsalted chicken/pork stock in the freezer as it gives me total control of the seasoning in the final dishes. Whether you are using homemade or store-bought, if your stock already has a prominent saltiness to it, you’ll have to reduce the amount of spicy miso paste to accommodate which will reduce the miso-flavour in your soup. You’d be trading flavours with salt, see?
The type of soy milk may also make a difference. I prefer Asian-style unsweetened soy milk which tends to carry a stronger “tofu/soy bean” taste, but if that’s unavailable, American brands soy milk will do, too. Just make sure it isn’t sweetened, or flavoured with vanilla or etc.
- Spicy miso paste: (enough for at least 8 servings)
- 1/2 cup (130 grams) of white miso paste
- 1/2 cup (130 grams) of red miso paste
- 1/3 cup (80 grams) of sichuan douban chili paste
- 1 small (or 3/4 medium) onion, cut into chunks
- 6 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 2″ (33 grams) of ginger, cut into chunks
- 3 tbsp (60 grams) of mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
- 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp of toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp of dashi granules
- 2 tsp (17 grams) of sesame paste (if Asian brands are unavailable, use tahini)
- shoyu soft-boiled eggs:
- 4 large free-range eggs
- 3 tbsp of soy sauce
- 2 tbsp of dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp of water
- Garlic and togarashi oil:
- 2 small shallots, finely minced
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 tsp of sesame seeds
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1/4 cup o vegetable oil
- 2 1/2 tbsp of Japanese seven spice (shichimi togarashi)
All of the above can be made beforehand and kept in the fridge until needed.
To make the spicy miso paste: Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smoothly pureed. You may need to stop and scrape the blender a few times to get it going in the beginning. Transfer the mixture into a pot and set over medium heat. Bring to a low simmer and keep cooking/stirring for another 5 min. Let it cool completely and store in an air-tight container in the fridge until needed.
To make the shoyu soft-boiled eggs: Gently place the eggs in a small pot and fill it with water until the eggs are covered by 1″. Add a generous pinch of salt (not listed in the ingredient-list because it’s more of a superstition for easy-peeling than anything…) and bring the water to a bare simmer on medium-high heat, then immediately lower the heat down to low (only enough heat to keep it at a bare simmer/or if you want to be anal, 212ºF/100ºC). The second the water reached the right temperature, set the timer at 4:30 min. Gently move the eggs around a few times during cooking. Once the timer goes off, immediately transfer the eggs into cold water and leave them to cool completely.
Combine soy sauce, dark brown sugar and water in a small sauce pot. Warm up the mixture just enough to melt the sugar, then set aside. Peel the eggs then submerge them in the soy sauce-mixture. Turning them occasionally while marinating for 2~3 hours.
To make the garlic and togarashi oil: Combine minced shallots, minced garlic, sesame seeds, salt and vegetable oil in a small pot and set over low heat. Slowly cook/stir until the garlics are crispy and lightly browned, approx 5~6 min. Turn off the heat and add the Japanese chili powder/togarashi. Give the mixture a stir and let it sit for a few hours or overnight.
- Spicy miso ramen: (for 2 servings)
- 220 grams of fatty ground pork
- 1 tbsp of toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp of dried shitake mushrooms
- 2 cups (475 grams) of unsalted chicken or pork stock
- 1 cup (227 grams) of unsweetened, unflavoured soy milk (Asian brands preferred but if unavailable, this will do, too)
- 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup of spicy miso paste
- 2 servings of fresh ramen noodles
- 4 tbsp of finely diced scallions
- 1 sheet of nori/Japanese sushi seaweed, cut into rectangular sheets
To make the spicy miso ramen: Rinse the dried shitake mushrooms to get rid of any sand/dirt. Finely chop them and set aside (without soaking).
In a large soup pot, heat up 1 tbsp of toasted sesame oil on high heat and start browning the fatty ground pork with ground black pepper. Once the pork has broken up, browned, and released its fat, add 1/4 cup of the spicy miso paste and cook for another min until fragrant. Add the chopped shitake, unsalted stock and unsweetened soy milk and bring to a simmer. Place 1/2 cup spicy miso paste on top of a very fine sieve. Lower the sieve half-way into the simmering soup and use a spoon to slowly dissolve the paste into the soup (it may seem very thick and troublesome in the beginning but be patient, it’ll dissolve eventually). You’d be surprised at how much “solids” within the paste will remain on top of the sieve, which if dumped directly into the soup, will make the soup very thick and “sauce-like”.
Discard the “solids” in the sieve and let the soup simmer for another 5 min. If the soup tastes quite salty at this point, that is correct. It’s Japanese ramen… It is salty.
Cook the fresh ramen noodles according to package instructions, and drain well. Divide the noodles into two large bowl and ladle the soup on top (you may have a bit more than needed). For each serving, place 1 shoyu egg (cut into half), 2 tbsp of finely diced scallions, 3 rectangular nori sheets, and 2 tsp of garlic and togarashi oil.