Ramen at home
Note: Most ramen shops in Japan use pork bones as the base to their broth, though chicken bones or dried fish can play a role. This simplified version uses only chicken. A dab of any reserved pan juices in each bowl adds complexity to the dish. Fresh ramen noodles are available at United Noodle in Minneapolis. From “Japanese Farm Food,” by Nancy Singleton Hachisu.
• 2 small carrots, cut into 1-in. lengths
• 2 small spring onions, cut into 1-in. lengths
• 1 (3/4-in.) knob fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced
• 4 chicken thighs, bone in, or 8 wings (free-range for best flavor)
• 1 tsp. sea salt
• 2 tbsp. sesame oil
• 2 tbsp. sesame oil
• 2 c. flour
• 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks, room temperature
• 4 half-boiled eggs (see below)
• 1 small bunch boiled, squeezed and chopped bok choy greens
• Seasonings: miso, soy sauce, salt
• 1 sheet nori (dried seaweed), cut into eighths
• 3 tbsp. finely chopped green onions
To prepare broth: Start the ramen soup early in the day or at least several hours before dinner.
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Put the carrots, onions, ginger and chicken in a cast-iron pan and sprinkle with salt and oil. Distribute the oil around to coat all the chicken and vegetables and roast for 30 to 45 minutes in the middle of the oven.
Scrape the roasted chicken and vegetables and all of the pan drippings into a large heavy pot with 4 quarts cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Uncover, pull out 2 thighs, place in medium-sized bowl, and ladle a bit of broth over to allow meat to cool gently. Simmer stock, uncovered, for 1 hour more. After the chicken meat has cooled for a half-hour, shred, moisten with a ladle of broth, and reserve. When stock is done, strain into a clean saucepan and keep warm over low heat. (Discard remaining thighs and vegetables.)
To prepare noodle dough: Mix 2 tablespoons sesame oil into flour with your fingers until crumbly. Add eggs and egg yolks and stir with your hands until just incorporated. Knead on clean flat surface for 5 minutes until pliable but stiff. Let dough rest while you prepare ramen toppings.
To make half-boiled eggs: Carefully place eggs into boiling water and boil for 7 to 8 minutes. Plunge eggs into cold water and run more cold water over them until water temperature remains cool. Remove eggs from water when completely cool. Slice eggs in half vertically with razor-sharp knife. Scoop eggs from shells.
To finish noodles: Fill largest stockpot you own with hot water and bring to boil over high heat.
On a floured surface, roll out ramen noodle dough into a rough oblong shape to slightly less than 1/8 inch thick. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, slice 1/8-inch wide strips to create the noodles. Then cut the noodles into 9-inch lengths, flour well, and toss to distribute the flour. Leave on the workspace, but do not clump into a mass.
Take out 1 large soup bowl per person and add seasoning to each bowl: 1 tablespoon miso, 2 teaspoons soy sauce or 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix a little broth in to melt the salt or emulsify the miso. Distribute the reserved shredded chicken pieces among the bowls along with a small amount of broth in which it was cooled.
Boil the noodles for 2 minutes and right before the noodles are done, add 2 or 3 ladlefuls of broth to the bowls. Scoop the noodles out of the boiling water with a small fine-mesh strainer and drop into a large strainer. Divide the noodles among the bowls filled with soup and quickly add 2 egg halves, a dollop of greens and 2 pieces of nori before sprinkling with the green onions. Serve immediately.