It’s a trend that has swept the nation with ramen bars popping up in most of our major cities. But what if you love the proper stuff and live in the sticks? Read on hungry friends, read on
Is there anything more satisfying than slurping up a bowl of ramen noodles? Here at Homemade, we think not. And we're not talking about the dehydrated stuff that comes in packets or the Pot Noodles of our university days ... this is about the real thing in all its rich and piping hot glory.
So what’s in a stonking good ramen then?
Anything from fish or chicken to pork or tofu. But it’s the freshly made hand-pulled or hand-cut noodles as well as the stock that make it such a slurping sensation.
In fact, ramen is so laborious to make that in Japan, it used to be eaten solely for special occasions. Now, it’s more of an everyday thing – good time to be alive, eh?
The different types of ramen
And there isn't just one type of ramen either. Here are the main ones:
Shio ramen: clear or light in colour, shio broths tend to be more salty and subtle than their other more full-flavoured cousins
Shoyu ramen: dark coloured and slightly sweeter than shio soup, this one is made with a special Japanese soy sauce called shoryu (hence the name)
Tonkotsu ramen: made from boiling up pork bones for a whopping 12-15 hours to make a rich whitish soup
Miso ramen: packed with lip-smacking umami flavours as it's made with miso (not sure about what umami is? Have a read of this)
Which noodles do you need?
As hand-pulled or hand-cut noodles are just a wee bit of a stretch for the everyday shopper, look out for dried ramen noodles in the supermarket (light and springy), udon noodles (soft and chewy), soba noodles (made with nutty buckwheat flour) or even vermicelli noodles (made with rice so perfect for gluten-free peeps and often used in pad thai).
Let’s talk toppings
Baby leaf spinach, nori, wakame, bamboo shoots, mini fish cakes, spring onions, cabbage, runny yolked boiled eggs. Mix up your toppings depending on the season and you could be eating ramen all year round.
Enough chat, I want to make it
We’ve included two approaches here: one goes the whole hog (quite literally with slow-cooked pork belly) and takes two days to make (yikes), while the other is a nice cheaty version using the inspired shortcut of leftover roast chicken.
Peer into your inner soul (or clear your diary) and choose your path – the joy of home-cooked ramen lies ahead.
Two-day shoyu ramen
Be warned: this recipe is only for the most committed. Don't attempt if you feel half-hearted about ramen or, like us, you get especially impatient around food.
That said, if you see it as a two-day operation and keep yourself well fed while you make it (saves you from munching on the ingredients) you’ll sail through on a wakame wave. The Paupered Chef doesn’t go as far as making his own noodles, but you can tell he was probably toying with the idea.
The two-day endeavour involves making fresh chicken stock and a shoyu base, cooking pork belly along with a liquid to braise it in, prepping your ramen ingredients, cooking the noodles and boiling and marinating an egg before bringing it all together – phew! Ironically, it only takes a couple of minutes to assemble your ramen once you’ve got all the different bits ready – if you can pull in a flatmate/friend/random person off the street to be your sous chef, now’s the time.
The cheat's version (huzzah!)
Luckily, you don’t have to give up two days of your existence to enjoy this steamy number. Not with the Food Busker around. Got some leftover chicken? Then you can make this.
Liked this? Read these:
- Meanwhile, in Japan: fancy a ramen-flavoured ice cream?
- These food mashups will blow your mind
- It's time for Japanese soul food
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