Wednesday, June 11, 2014

SAHD's Homemade Ramen


This ramen is a riff on classic Japanese Shōyu Ramen, which is one of the 4 main types of ramen that are popular (shio, miso, shōyu, and tonkotsu). This recipe is from David Chang's cookbook, Momofuku, which in and of itself is a really neat read if you're into Chang's style of cooking.

Regarding this particular recipe, he uses mushrooms, chicken, pork, and bacon to build the ramen broth. It's very savory and a bit smoky from the bacon and very porky if you can get your hands on some good pork bones. I rarely can and it turns out good anyway.

I cut a few corners with this recipe in that I usually have chicken carcasses on hand in the freezer and I don't take near as much time as he does in the original recipe because 1) I combine some steps and 2) I use a pressure cooker. It saves a bunch of time. And by a bunch, I mean you can make this in less than a day with a pressure cooker. That's a big deal to me.

Anyway, it's a pretty straightforward recipe but does require a trip to the Asian market (or amazon.com) for the dashi stock ingredients. You may be able to find instant dashi powder in the Asian aisle of your supermarket but it's not very good. Certainly not as good as homemade dashi stock. But in a pinch it's better than nothing. I've used it plenty of times.

The toppings can be anything you want from bamboo shoots and fish cake to pork belly and roasted chicken. Whatever you have on hand is game. I usually make mine this way because I have most of this stuff on hand at any given time and I really like the combination.

Ok, enough talk, let's get into it!

SAHD's Homemade Ramen
(adapted a bit from Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan)
(dashi stock from Alton Brown, here)

This recipe makes enough for two very large bowls of ramen that we could barely finish plus small bowls for the two kids. I think officially it feeds four, but we eat big portions of ramen around here. 

Dashi Stock
2 (4-inch) square pieces kombu
3 quarts water
1/2 -ounce bonito flakes or katsuobushi, about 2 cups

Taré Sauce
1 cup saké
1 cup mirin
2 cups soy sauce
1 pound chicken parts, raw or leftover carcass

Crispy Pork
2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 2 inch chunks
2 pounds pork neck bones (if you can get them, if not, pork ribs work too)
2 tablespoons rendered lard or bacon fat

Ramen Broth
2 cups assorted mushrooms and stems
2-3 pounds chicken parts, raw or leftover carcass
1 pound smoky bacon
1 bunch scallions, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, quartered
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

To Serve
Crispy pork
1 bunch sliced scallions, green parts
4 eggs, hard cooked 6-8 minutes
3.5 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms
1 cup corn (roasted or frozen is fine)
1/4 sheet nori per bowl

==

This may seem like a lot of things but it's not. Here's my cheat-sheet when I make my ramen to give you an idea of the process before reading through all the steps. 

1. Make dashi stock
strain
2. Add Pork & bones, 45 mins (make taré at same time)
3. Remove, shred pork and cook in lard 
4. Add mushrooms and chicken and bacon, cook 1 hour (make toppings)
strain
5. Add 1 bunch scallions, 1 onion and 1 carrot, cook 15
strain and season with taré
EAT

That's it!

==

Begin by making the dashi stock. 

If you've ever had miso soup, this is the base that starts with. 

I got my kombu and bonito flakes online because I'm too lazy to drive down to the Asian market. 


I measured out my water because I obsess like that. 3 quarts.


Get a piece of kombu and rinse it under water before adding it to the pot.


I cut it in half to fit easier.

Let this soak for 30 minutes with no heat.


In the meantime, measure out your bonito flakes.

Half an ounce, or 2 cups.

This stuff smells really smokey and good to me. My daughter said it smelled "yucky".


After the 30 minute soak, turn the heat to medium and let the water come to about 150-160F.

There should be tiny bubbles starting to form around the sides of the pan.


A thermometer with an alarm is nice for this!


When you hit your temp, remove the kombu. You can actually use this for another batch of dashi, but I tossed mine.


Crank the heat and bring to a boil.


Reduce the heat to low and drop in the bonito flakes.


It starts to rehydrate rapidly. Looks cool.


Give the pot a stir and bring the heat up to medium/low so you can get a low simmer for 10 minutes.


Kill the heat and strain the broth.


You can save the bonito flakes and make glazed bonito flakes. I didn't see this recipe until later, but I'll definitely do that next time.

If not, just toss them.


Filter again through cheesecloth or a paper towel.


Now, add the pork shoulder and pork bones if you have them.

I didn't have any pork bones this time around. It doesn't make a HUGE difference to me but the final result is definitely more "porky" with the bones. I usually get some spare ribs because my grocery store never has pork bones for sale. 

Seal up the lid and cook at full pressure for 45 minutes. Without a pressure cooker, cook about 2-3 hours at a gentle simmer or until the pork falls apart.


Now we can start the taré.

I had about a pound of frozen chicken parts that worked perfectly.


Pre-heat the oven to 450 with a cast iron skillet inside.



When you are up to temp, remove the pan and add the chicken.

It doesn't matter if it's frozen, but I defrost it a bit in the microwave to handle it easier. 


Roast this off, stirring occasionally for 40 minutes.


Meanwhile, measure out 1 cup of mirin, 1 cup of saké, and 2 cups of soy sauce.


When the chicken is done roasting, add the sauce ingredients and scrape up the bits on the bottom of the pan over medium heat.


Bring to a simmer and let the sauce reduce for about 30 minutes.


Strain the sauce and discard the chicken.



If you want to thicken it up a bit, reduce in another pan.

I don't like reducing this sauce in with the chicken too much because it ends up tasting kind of burnt to me. Reducing it separately maintains the flavor in my opinion.



Reserve for the final seasoning of the ramen. This will the be main "salt" component to the dish.



When your pork is done remove it from the pot. 

If you used pork bones, leave them in there.


Add 2 tablespoons of rendered lard or bacon fat to a pan, preferably cast iron. 

I used the same pan as the one I made the taré in (cleaned).


Put the pork in and turn the heat to medium/high.


Break up the pork. It should be pretty easy. 

Season with a splash of the taré and stir well to combine.

Cook over medium/high heat until crispy on the bottom.


Give it a stir and let this side get crispy again.

Check for salt. I usually add a pinch or so.

You can leave this over low heat until service or just stash in the fridge until you are ready to eat. Just heat it up in a pan quick to give it some life before service.

Just try not to eat it all out of the pan. This pork is so good I take pinches of it and feed the kids. They love it.

(This is also a quick way to make carnitas by the way. Pork like this is great on tacos with some salsa verde and pico de gallo, but I digress)


==

Now, the next phase of the broth.

I trimmed up some shiitakes while to pork cooked.


Save the stems for the stock.


Slice the mushrooms and reserve for a second.


Add the chicken carcass to the broth. I had about 2.5 pounds left in my stash. It's fine if the chicken is frozen.


Add your 2 cups of mushrooms and mushroom stems.

I had some porcinis that were going bad that worked well.


Add your pound of bacon. I usually buy the "end pieces" at the store. They are super cheap and work great for applications like this.


Add enough water to get to the fill line and give everything a stir.

Cook on full pressure for 1 hour.

If you're doing this without a pressure cooker, Chang suggests cooking for 6 hours, topping up with water as it gets low.


==

While that goes, you can make your toppings.

A teaspoon of lard or bacon fat in a small pan for the mushrooms.


Toss them in over medium heat with some salt and pepper.


Cook until starting to brown around the edges, 5-7 minutes.


Reserve for service.


I also sautéed my corn in some lard but didn't get any pics of that. Just cook it until it gets some color on the kernels.

Sorry!

==

I steam my eggs for hard boiling because it's super fast and I get perfect results.

You can go for 6 minutes for a near-prefect amount of runny yolk, but my wife really likes a 7-8 minute egg so I do them that way. It's a *just* cooked yolk.



Shock in an ice bath when they are done.



Peel and drop into a ziplock bag with some of the reserved taré. Enough to cover. These can marinate for an hour or all day if you want.



Slice up a bunch of scallions for the final bowl. Reserve for service.



Cut up a sheet of nori.

I use 1/4 sheet per bowl.



You can also prep your vegetable portion now.


Rough chop a whole bunch of scallions.


Peel and chop a carrot.


Peel and quarter an onion.


==

Ok, homestretch!

When your hour is up, strain the broth.



I strained it twice. Paper towel works great here.


Use a spoon or something to help it drain.


Look how much liquid we lost!


Add your veggies and maybe a cup of water if it looks low.


Lid up and cook at high pressure for 15 minutes. Without a pressure cooker, cook for 45 at a simmer.


Strain, again.


I didn't get a pic of the final strain, but do that through cheesecloth or paper towel, again.


Season your broth with a few scoops of the taré. This stuff is pretty strong so start slow and taste often.

You want your broth to be just over the line of "too salty". It's the only seasoning for most of the components in bowl, and the noodles need the extra seasoning.

Don't be bashful. Be bold.


That's it! Now we serve.

I have these HUGE ramen bowls. I also use fresh yakisoba noodles from the store because while I've made ramen noodles from scratch in the past, they taste for lack of a better word, weird.

You can use the dry kind from the package here too. You can also use regular fresh Italian style egg noodles. You can also use spaghetti, whatever. If you have access to good fresh or dry ramen that will obviously be best.

Anyway, I use two portions per bowl.


Then just ladle the broth in and place the toppings around the outside.

Crispy pork, scallions, marinated eggs, sautéed shiitakes, sautéed corn, and nori.

==

Overall, while this isn't strictly traditional, it does a good job of riffing on the standard shōyu ramen recipe. It is definitely more bold and aggressive tasting than shōyu ramen I've had in the past but I really like it this way.

The addition of the bacon lends smokiness and the crispy pork adds that porky flavor but also a great texture to the bowl. I love the addition of corn to brighten up the bowl and the scallions give a fresh note to the soup. I like it with a bit of Sriracha as well. 

It's a bit of work, but with a pressure cooker, you can knock this out in an afternoon and it's well worth it. 

Give it a try if you have a ramen craving!


Enjoy!

2 comments:

  1. Glad you've posted again--we've been waiting for another post! This recipe is fantastic, I CANNOT wait to try this after summer classes are over. Question: do you use bones with marrow in them? I'm wondering with the amt of fat and bones, how did you manage to make a non-greasy broth? Doesn't look greasy from the pics. Though not the same idea, I've tried making Pho with the right amount of marrow-in-bones, etc., and my broths always come out greasy.

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  2. It can end up a bit greasy if you have bones with a lot of marrow. What helps is to par-boil the bones for 10 minutes before cooking and also roasting the bones first can help a bit. I always strain my broth between steps, too. It takes a while to get the liquid to go, but you'll strain off a lot of the fat if you're patient. Apart from that, you can pour the whole thing off into a big container, let it cool and skim the fat off for a much less greasy broth.

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