Charred onion broth

This recipe, from Pippa Middlehurst’s ‘Dumplings and Noodles: Bao, Gyoza, Biang Biang, Ramen and Everything in Between’ makes a lovely broth for ramen. In her recipe, Pippa explains that the kombu and shiitake add umami, while charring the vegetables encourages the sugars in the ingredients to caramelise, resulting in a mellow, slightly sweet and richly flavoured broth.

This was so good we have used it as a base for other soup recipes beyond ramen – for instance, it’s really good as a base for minestrone, Tuscan bean soup and other broth-based dishes.

Ingredients

  • 2 large brown onions (unpeeled), halved
  • 5cm (2in) piece of fresh root ginger, sliced
  • ½ head garlic
  • 1 leek, halved lengthwise
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • ½ head Chinese leaf (napa cabbage), roughly chopped
  • 8 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 sheet of dried kombu
  • 100g daikon radish, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (400F / Gas 6).
  2. Add the onions, ginger, leek, carrots and cabbage to a roasting tray, flesh side down and skin facing up where possible. Place in the oven and cook for around 25 minutes until the edges of the vegetables start to blacken and char.
  3. In the meantime, fill a stockpot with 2 litres (2 quarts) of water and add the mushrooms, kombu, radish, salt, peppercorns, soy sauce and rice wine. When the charred vegetables are ready, add them to the pot, skins included. Bring the pot to the boil reduce the heat and leave to simmer gently for 3 – 4 hours.
  4. When the time has elapsed, the broth should have taken on a dark brown colour. Line a large sieve with a piece of muslin (cheesecloth) and place over a large mixing bowl. Pour the contents of the pan into the sieve. Allow the stock to strain through the muslin. Do not press on the vegetables. Discard the solids from the muslin, rinse the cloth under warm water, then line the sieve again and strain the broth for a second time.
  5. From here, you can decant your stock into individual sealable containers and either freeze or use straight away.

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