Yesterday, my son wasn’t feeling good, and asked for soup. (Poor kid inherited my stomach troubles.) I’ve been dying to try my hand at a real, serious ramen, so I dived in and did this. It turned out amazingly good.
If you’re American, odds are that when you hear “ramen”, you think of those little packets of noodles with a powdered MSG-heavy soup base that you can buy 5 for a dollar. To be honest, I do like those. But they’re a sad imitation of what ramen is supposed to be.
Ramen is, in my opinion, one of the very best soup dishes in the world. A real ramen is a bowl of chewy noodles, served in a rich hearty broth, with some delicious roasted meat, some veggies. Ramen broth isn’t a wimpy soup like american chicken noodle soup – it’s an intense soup. When you eat a bowl of ramen, you’re eating a meal, and you finish it feeling full, and warm, and happy with the world.
This isn’t a simple recipe. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it! And most of the components can be prepared in large batches and frozen.
So, here we go. Ramen with Chicken and Shrimp Tare, Watercress, and Roast Pork Tenderloin!
In ramen, you make the broth relatively unseasoned. Separately, you prepare a tare, which is a seasoning liquid. When you serve the ramen, you start by putting tare in the bottom of the bowl. It’s one of the tricks of ramen – it’s a big part of what makes the broth special. Every ramen cook has their own tare recipe.
- Shells from 1lb shrimp
- 8 chicken wings, cut into three pieces each. (Do not throw out the wingtips – for this, they’re the best part!
- 1 cup mirin
- 1 cup sake
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup water.
- Heat some oil in a pan, and saute the shrimp shells until they’re cooked through and pink.
- Transfer the cooked shells to a cold saucepan.
- Add a bit more oil to the hot pan, and add the wings into the pan where you cooked the shells. Brown them really well on both sides. (I also took the neck from the chicken I used to make the broth, and put it in here.)
- Move them into the saucepan with the shells.
- Add the mirin, sake, soy, and water into the pan where you sauteed the wings, and scrape up all of the brown bits. Then pour it over the wings and shells.
- Simmer for at least 30 minutes, until it reduces by roughly half. Skim out all of the solids.
You should give this a taste. It should be very salty, but also sweet, and intensely flavored from the chicken and shrimp shells.
- 1 whole chicken, cut into parts.
- A bunch of miscellaneous bones – chicken backs are the best, pork bones will be good too – as long as they aren’t smoked. Even beef soup bones will work.
- 1 whole onion, cut into large chunks.
- 1 head of garlic, cut in half.
- 3 whole star anise
- Heat up a large stockpot on high heat. Add a little bit of oil.
- Throw in the bones, and stir them until they’re browned on all sides.
- Add in the chicken parts. No salt, no browning – just throw the chicken in.
- Add enough water to cover everything in the pot.
- Add the onion, garlic, and anise to the pot.
- When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and let it simmer. Periodically skim the scum that rises to the top.
- Simmer for at least 2 hours. You can simmer it overnight in a slow-cooker, and it’ll taste even better, but you’ll need extra water.
- Take out the chicken, bones, and spices. Add some salt – but you want to leave the broth a little underseasoned, because you’re going to mix in some tare later!
Roast Pork Tenderloin
- 1/2 pork tenderloin, cut into two pieces (to make it easier to fit into the pan.)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced.
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons sake
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Take the tenderloin. Remove any silverskin. Poke all over, on all sides, with a fork. (This will help the marinade
- Mix together the garlic, soy, sake, and sugar to make a marinade.
- Put the pork in, and get it coated. Let it marinade for about an hour, turning it a couple of times.
- Heat a cast iron pan on high heat until it’s smoking hot.
- Put the tenderloin pieces in the pan. Turn it to brown on all sides.
- Remove the pork from the pan, and transfer to a 350 degree oven. Cook until it’s about 140 degrees inside. (This
took about 15 minutes in my oven.) This is a bit underdone, but it’s going to cook more in the soup, and you don’t want it to be tough!
- Slice the pork into half-inch rounds.
- Dip the rounds in the hot tare.
Putting it all together
- Eggs – one per person.
- The green parts of a couple of scallions, cut finely.
- A bunch of watercress.
- Torigashi shichimi (a prepackaged japanese spice blend.)
- Sesame oil.
- Ramen noodles. (If you go to an asian grocery, you should be able to find fresh ramen noodles, or at least decent quality dried.)
- Boil the eggs for about 5-6 minutes. The whites should be set, the yolks still a bit runny.
- In each soup bowl, put:
- A couple of tablespoons of tare (the exact quantity depends on your taste, and how much you reduced your tare)
- a bunch of watercress
- some of the minced scallions
- A drop of sesame oil
- Boil the ramen.
- To each bowl, add a big bunch of ramen noodles.
- Cover the noodles with the broth.
- Add a couple of slices of the roast pork.
- Crack the egg, and scoop it out of its shell into the soup.
- Sprinkle some shichimi on top.