Ramen is such a celebrated dish in cooking couture now with social media and nostalgia atop everyone’s lists of interests. Locally, meaning in Asia, ramen is served in a vast variety of ways. From broth concoction; aromatic choice and preparation; vegetables; proteins which is usually a meat choice of chicken or pork. Each and every one of these elements makes the shop on High Street’s double broth and shirataki elevated to a higher tier than the commercialized ramen bar in the mall. Fish is also a great stock base with the go to being dried kombu (kelp), katsuobushi (Bonito-tuna). If you are of the no meat creed have no worries-The mushroom broth I have posted is fantastic and I would have the utmost confidence serving it up to some of my most devoted carnivore friends.
Your base elements are going to be familiar ingredients just with a different functionality. One very distinct difference with Asian cuisine is the usage of the ingredients. Order of preparation, cooking, plating and consuming. For example, you can use familiar herbs and roots for what are known as aromatics. When paired with a high heat and oil the room is filled with the scent of the orient. When meat is used as a garnish or decoration instead of a main course the elegance of the dish sings as the vegetables take center stage visually.
Authentic ramen is an art and an all-day affair. What I have displayed took three hours and was enough to ignite my intrigue to take a day away for experimentation next week. The foundational elements of a ramen dish are 5:
- Tare (seasoning)
- Toppings (vegetables & protein)
- Aromatic oil
- Ginger root
- ½ bulb of garlic
- ½ Brown onion
- Organic store-bought Mushroom Broth
- Four Sigmatic Reishi Elixir
- Shiratake noodles
- Roasted red peppers
- Green onion
- Truffle roasted carrots
- Dried mushrooms
- Truffle chili flake honey oil
- Edible flowers
BEFORE CHOPPING AND COOKING IT IS CRUCIAL THAT WE WASH OUR PRODUCE THOROUGHLY. SCRUB, SOAK AND RINSE YOUR PRDOUCE IN THE MANNER EACH SPECIFIC INGREDIENT NEEDS.
Cut the ginger, onion and garlic all with the skin on and add them to a stock pot on medium high. No oil is necessary as the water or stock, depending on which direction you will be taking your broth, will be in over the eat shortly. Give it about 3-5 minutes depending on the amount you have in your pot and the heating speed of your burners. What we are aiming for here is the releasing of the natural oils and liquids from the roots and the onion. When these come out and play you will know it. Keep everything moving about in the pot until that happens-we want to avoid scorching. Add the liquids and allow the higher heat to bring that up to a rolling boil. Reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes.
At this point we want to add in our dried mushrooms and allow them to rehydrate and enhance the broth. We don’t want to overcook our mushrooms as they will be used for one of our topping options so we will remove them and set them aside with the rest of our toppings. Now we add our Reishi elixir (assuming you are consuming this in the late afternoon or evening at home) or whatever other mushroom or superfood you may want to add and allow for full merriment of one unto the other. This is the art in Broth and ramen making. Understanding when elements or ingredients have rendered its full potential forth for your masterpiece. Maximizing timing. Perfecting pairings for your palette. Allow this to go for as long as another hour.
This can be a fully immersed process like making them from scratch or you can find more than enough organic well sourced options wherever you shop. Whatever your dietary preference or prescription there is sure to be a noodle or to for you. It is important however that you follow the instructions on the packet for any store bought packs of noodles.
Seasonings are what will let the diner know what region they are experiencing through their bowl. Shio and shoyu are where the aspects of flavor take hold. Shio is a very basic approach to the ramen seasoning method. Much gentler, but just as complimentary to the toppings and oil. Shoyu which is widely popular in Japan is a bold soy sauce-based ramen that has the element of soy sauce as the tare. Not boiled into the stock. The Shoyu pairs very well with the mushroom broth because the rich brown color is magnified.
This is where your flavor profile comes together. Coming from many other backgrounds one would find there to be a lack of the art of seasoning. In essence the elements you have brought together are what you will taste in the finest form. The crunch of the vegetable that is raw or lightly wok fried; the fish that was cooked and given its own flavorful flare; That perfect egg with is pastured rich golden yolk in contrast with the bronze broth you have created. These are what are going to bring the full flavor of your ramen. Bite by bite. Your toppings allow your same base of broth, noodles and tare to become boundless.
Hot chili oil or sweet and spicy hoisin and sesame can be purchased from the market but why on earth would you do that when the power to make your own with fresh elements is as easy as combining them yourself when the time calls. Playing off of the mushroom matrix I have developed I felt to have a final and even more elevated flavor profile I should add some truffle sea salt to my oil. Truffle is quite aromatic on its own but not enough to please me because I also wanted a spicy element and I knew red chili flake would be an easy go to. Plus, the longer I let it sit the more it would release its heat into the oil. Just for complexity and balance I added in a small about of super raw honey. Finally, some avocado oil. I chose avocado over sesame because the profile of sesame is strong enough to stand on its own. You can easily choose to just add sesame oil on top and say Taberu (Eat in Japanese). But I was feeling adventurous. Creative! So, I made my own and it delivered on all levels with each bite.
As I began, I shall end: Ramen is just as much an artform as a cultural dish. Ramen is built up from the sourcing and preparation of each ingredient down to the construction of the visual presentation. With the flavors so intricately interdependent the deconstruction-eating-of the bowl is just as methodical. Take the time to enjoy this bowl and play with the elements of the dish as you slurp.
Arigatogozaimashita (Thank You)