With the Fall weather fast-approaching, we figured we’d post something familiar to most households, the Ramen noodle. Most people in the United States probably know, or think they know, what ramen is — a bunch of “fresh” dried noodles shaped and compressed in a block-like form accompanied by a packet of flavoring that’s nicely loaded with salt or MSG. Due to how cheap instant ramen is, college students are often subjected to stocking these packets for rainy days, instant meals and for the late-night munchies after a long night of heavy drinking. Let’s face it, ramen has gotten a bad rap over the years and we think it’s time to give it a facelift.
The Basics: Ramen, according to Wikipedia, is a “Japanese noodle dish. It consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat- or fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce ormiso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork (チャーシュー chāshū?), dried seaweed (海苔 nori?), kamaboko, green onions, and occasionally corn. Almost every locality in Japan has its own variation of ramen, from the tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen of Kyushu to the miso ramen of Hokkaido.”
In our household, ramen is a whole different experience. With fresh ingredients and always pushing outside the box, it’s definitely one of our favorite meal times of the year. From bone marrow to wild mushrooms, ramen may be pushed further than you would think. Below is a recipe that you can try to make your own fresh alkaline noodles for your next ramen delight lifted from David Chang’s Lucky Peach.
Ingredients (makes 6 portions):
– 3C (400g) of all-purpose flour
– 4T (12g) baked soda
– 1/2C (100g) warm tap water
– 1/2C (100g) cold tap water
– First, make the baked soda. Spread a half-cup of baking soda on a foil-lined sheet pan. Pop it in a 250°F oven or toaster oven for 1 hour. Store extra baked soda in a jar with a lid indefinitely.
– Put warm water in a large mixing bowl. Dissolve the soda in it, then add the cold water. Add the flour, stirring and mixing to form a crumbly, pebbly alliance — not exactly a nice dough.
– Turn that crumbly dough out onto a work surface. Knead it together, working the dough for 5 full minutes. (It will be a tougher sparring partner than any flour dough you’ve ever tried to make.) Wrap the dough in plastic and let it rest at room temperature for 20 minutes, then knead for another 5 minutes. (You will curse and sweat.) Rewrap the dough and put it in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
– Divide the dough into five to six portions. Roll each portion out using a pasta machine (Italian-made is fine). Progress through the thickness settings one by one. The final thickness of the noodles is up to you, as is the width and shape into which you cut them. I like taking the dough to the second-thinnest setting, then either finally hand-cutting them or cutting them through the finer of the two cutters that came with my machine. Keep the noodles well floured to prevent them from sticking.
– Cook the noodles in a deep pot with plenty of water. Noodles cut on the thinnest setting will only need two and a half or three minutes to cook. Check the noodles regularly while they’re cooking; if they stick together, rinse them under cold water immediately after straining them from the pot to stop the cooking and rinse off any excess starch.
The ramen pictured above is our own twist on the pork ramen. Using a braised and oven-roasted pork belly as the main attraction, the ramen is submerged in fresh chicken-veg/fruit stock mixed with baby bok choy, chives, roasted garlic, slices of ginger, and topped with a half of a hard-boiled egg. Perfect for a rainy day or the chilly Fall/Winter nights ahead.
We hope that we’ve revived your faith in the ramen noodle. If you have any ramen recipes that you would like to share, contact us. We will be recreating it in our own kitchen and featuring your recipe for others to try as well. Oishii!