Ramen Journal, Part IV: Ramen

Throwing it all together for the finale. After the ramen broth, the noodles, and the pork are done, you’ve got most of the hard stuff out of the way. The broth is a bit bare as it is, so I’ve experimented by adding various ingredients to enhance the flavor – such as garlic, sardines, apples, shiitake, etc. My broth is ever evolving, each time a new flavor introduced. Ramen shops in Japan have a ramen broth and also a “tare”, which is a concentrated second broth that is combined in small amounts with the first broth right before serving. These “tare” recipes are always secret, as this is what makes every ramen shop’s signature dish unique.  The beauty of ramen is that there are no rules.  There’s no standard way to make the broth, there’s no standard noodle, pork, or toppings. It is such a stark contrast to Japanese culture where conformity and abiding by the rules are the norm.  It’s truly one of the most creative dishes in Japanese cuisine, and it’s a widely available street food nonetheless.  Most places in Tokyo serve ramen bowls for less than $10, with the more premium places ranging from $10-$15.

To serve:

  1. Portion out the broth in a large saucepan to heat up – add ingredients or spices to reach desired flavor.
  2. Boil a large pot of water to cook the noodles
  3. Once boiling, place the noodles in a noodle sieve or metal strainer and then into the water.  Cook for 1 minute and 45 seconds or until slightly more al dente than what you would prefer, as it will cook slightly more once served.
  4. Cut the pork belly into slices.
  5. Add the final broth to the bowl, gently place the noodles in the broth, and then the pork and rest of the toppings that you wish to serve.  Some popular toppings are corn, menma (bamboo shoots), nori (dried seaweed), scallions, diced onions, eggs, and bean sprouts.
Ramen served with pork, scallions, corn, and a sous vide egg

Ramen served with pork, scallions, corn, and a sous vide egg

Sous vide egg cut in half

Sous vide egg cut in half

I spent some time in Tokyo recently and had a chance to eat a LOT of ramen (almost daily) and even got to visit the Ramen Museum in Shin-Yokohama. If you ever visit Tokyo, I’d recommend taking a day trip to Shin-Yokohama and checking it out! They have permission to recreate and serve from the menu of 9 famous ramen shops around the country. They have half size bowls too, so you can try as much as your stomach can handle. Here are some photos:

The lunch crowd at the Ramen Museum

The lunch crowd at the Ramen Museum

Tonkotsu

Komurasaki’s Tonkotsu Ramen – Half Size (Ramen Museum)

Miso

Komurasaki’s Miso Ramen – Half Size (Ramen Museum)

Soy

Shina Sobaya’s Soy Ramen – Half Size (Ramen Museum)

Salt

Shina Sobaya’s Salt Ramen – Half Size (Ramen Museum)

Idaten

Idaten’s Chashu Ramen (Omori)

Poppo

Itoyokado’s Tonkotsu Ramen (Itoyokado is a popular department store and this is what’s served in the cafeteria. Not bad for $6 USD!)

Pride of Ippudo

Pride of Ippudo’s Ramen (Omori)

Daishin

Daishin Grocery Store Cafeteria’s Soy Ramen (Omori, this was $5 USD… crazy)

Menya 305

Menya 305’s Ramen (Roppongi)

Noriya's Chashu Ramen (Oimachi)

Noriya’s Chashu Ramen (Oimachi)

And for non-ramen foods…

Takoyaki from THE Takoyaki stand at Ueno's Shitamachi

Takoyaki from THE Takoyaki stand at Ueno’s Shitamachi

Shijimi (Small Clam) Miso Soup - the BEST type of miso soup

Shijimi Miso Soup – the BEST type of miso soup

Grilled Fish at a Festival

Grilled Fish from a Street Stand at a Festival

Grilled Squid from a Street Stand at a Festival

Grilled Squid from a Street Stand at a Festival

Grillin' Octopus
Grillin’ Octopus

Assorted Barbeque - I had the Sazae (Turbo Cornutus)

Assorted Barbeque – I had the Sazae (Turbo Cornutus)

The Sazae

The Sazae

I'm not ballin' enough for this Heart Shaped Mini Watermelon... it was 50 bucks!

I’m not ballin’ enough for this Heart Shaped Mini Watermelon… it was 50 bucks!

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Ramen Journal, Part Two: The Noodles

The inspiration for this noodle recipe is from Marc at NoRecipes, where he experimented with different proportions of kansui and water.  However, I preferred the taste of noodles made with regular all-purpose flour as opposed to bread flour.   Another deviation is from the recommendation of wrapping the pre-cooked noodles in plastic wrap for storage in the fridge overnight. The noodles became rather soggy when wrapped and kept in the cold.  By leaving them to air dry for a couple of hours (until hard/brittle), they are more firm when cooked.

Ingredients (Makes Two Servings):

1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
¼ Cup Warm Water
1 Teaspoon Kansui (Potassium Bicarbonate)

Directions:

  1. Add the flour to mixing bowl.
  2. Add kansui to warm water.
  3. Add the water/kansui mixture to mixing bowl.

    Adding the water/kansui mixture to the flour

    Adding the water/kansui mixture to the flour

  4. Mix/knead the dough in the bowl or on a flat surface for around 5-10 minutes – until it has become smooth and elastic.
  5. Flatten and shape the dough for easy entry into widest setting of pasta machine.

    Flattening the dough with the pasta machine

    Flattening the dough with the pasta machine

  6. Run it through the machine once. Fold in half vertically and run through again.  Repeat two or three times until it appears smooth.
  7. Set the pasta machine to a slightly thinner setting and run the dough through again.
  8. Repeat 7 until you have reached desired thinness for noodles.

    About ready to cut the noodles

    About ready to cut the noodles

  9. Change setting on pasta machine to cut noodles.  Cut the dough in half for easier cutting.  Run the first half of dough through the cutter.
  10.  Place batch of noodles on a plate or a surface where it can be spread out. Sprinkle some flour on the noodles to prevent them from sticking.
  11. Cut the second batch of noodles and repeat 10.  Let dry for a couple of hours until the noodles have hardened.
Letting the noodles dry

Letting the noodles dry

The noodles should be cooked in boiling water for 1 minute and 45 seconds.

Up next: Pork belly, other ramen toppings, and putting it all together.

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