I love ramen, it's one of my favorite things. Pete Wells wrote about it this week for the NY Times and with all this cold weather it's been on my mind. I grew up eating ramen and udon. As a kid, I would always order noodles at Japanese restaurants. Dumplings, negimaki, and noodles were the only things I ordered for years. Instant ramen was always in the cupboard at home. It was one of the first things I learned how to cook. My mom and I loved going out to little hole in the wall places for ramen and gyoza. Years later, decades later if I'm honest, ramen has passed through being a fad to being a staple, especially in my hometown of NYC. The only thing I don't like is how few people cook it at home.
I'm not talking about instant ramen, though that can be dolled up into a substantial meal. I'm talking about a fresh bowl of ramen noodles, cooked in a pot of boiling water and added to soup with various vegetables, proteins, and spices. There are some wonderful books on noodles but they don't do much to dispel the Tampopo myth that great ramen cannot be had without perfect long simmered broth. Here's the truth, that broth is why you eat ramen in restaurants. At home any rich, tasty broth will work. In essence it's noodles and soup with a few garnishes. Chicken broth pressure cooked from leftover bones from that roast chicken dinner and reinforced with leftover spare rib bones from the freezer will be delicious. Seaweed dashi soaked overnight in the refrigerator and then simmered with shrimp and vegetables will make a light delicious bowl of ramen. Leftover chicken soup with fresh vegetables, a simmered egg, and hot noodles will be one of the most comforting meals you'll ever have. Let's make real ramen at home. Nobody says it has to be authentic, it just has to be delicious.
The ramen above evolved after Alex stumbled on some beautiful beef ribs. We salted them and left them on a rack in the fridge. A few days later we ended up braising them, just to save them. Sometimes our schedules don't allow us to cook as much as we'd like. Yesterday afternoon he carved out some time and made me and Amaya some homemade ramen noodles. Lacking a pasta extruder you can buy fresh ones in any Asian market and dried noodles in most supermarkets. Then he warmed up the ribs in their braising liquid, leaving it brothy instead of reducing to a glaze. We shaved some leftover cabbage, sliced some green onions, and added some kimchi from the ever present jar in the fridge. The final touch was a few sliced jalapenos and dinner was done. Ramen, our way.
March 6, 2005