Oh, ramen

We tend to have several cooking shows on the go at any one time in The Salford Kitchen. Masterchef Australia is obviously one of them. Netflix’s Chef’s Table series is another that has had a big impact. One of the episodes that particularly made an impression on me is Season 3, Episode 4: Ivan Orkin, for various reasons: the food, Ivan’s personal story, and because Japan is one of my bucket list trip destinations. Sadly due to the current world situation, that particular holiday is firmly on the back burner. But in the meantime, I can watch cooking and travel shows and take notes, dreaming of our someday trip.

Ivan Orkin is a New York chef who fell in love with Japan and went on to become a master of ramen and umami. Ramen combines several important ingredients, including broth, tare (pronounced ‘tah-reh’, the seasoning for the ramen broth), noodles and various toppings. In the episode of Chef’s Table, Orkin described his process of making his own ramen noodles, and like that, ping! a lightbulb went on. A new entry was added to Cariad’s dream list of ambitious cooks: ramen, every element made from scratch.

Pippa Middlehurst’s book ‘Dumplings and Noodles: Bao, Gyoza, Biang Biang, Ramen and Everything in Between’, made this a possibility. Most of the elements I have written about in this set of posts are from her book: the broth, ramen eggs, and of course the dish wouldn’t be complete without the ramen noodles.

To make the ramen, we followed these steps:

  1. The day before, make the charred onion broth, and the ramen noodles.
  2. The night before, make the ramen eggs, tare and menma. Keep the broth, ramen noodles, ramen eggs, tare and menma in the fridge overnight to develop flavour.
  3. The next day when you are ready to serve the ramen, heat the broth, and prepare your toppings of choice. For vegetarian ramen, we opted for beansprouts, steamed broccoli florets, tofu cubes, sliced spring onions, menma, ramen eggs, and thinly sliced spring onions (scallions). You can of course vary this and select toppings of your choice, such as chashu pork, sweetcorn, or nori (dried sheets of seaweed).
  4. Cook the noodles in a pan of boiling salted water until al dente (between 1 ½ minutes and 2 minutes, depending on their thickness). Rinse in cold water and serve in your chosen recipe.
  5. Place 2½ tablespoons of the tare in the base of the ramen bowl. Add a small amount of ramen broth to the bowl and mix together, diluting the tare. Top up the liquid with more ramen broth (reserving some of the broth) and taste test, adjusting the saltiness with remaining ramen broth.
  6. Add the noodles and garnish with toppings of your choice. Serve immediately.

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