If you've had the chance to have Japanese-style ramen, then you probably haven't been able to put off satiating that craving ever since.
Japanese ramen is cherished for its multi-faceted genius. The base of a good bowl of ramen, is its broth. The second most important (some may argue the first), are the noodles. The other toppings or serving suggestions are negotiable. Some people may serve it with a soft-boiled egg, naruto (fish cakes with a pink swirl), bamboo shoots, wakame (seaweed), carrots, tofu, pork, or chicken, in addition to another long list of preferences.
The broth should be thick, and when in a chilled state, gelatinous. Always taste the broth first to see what you're getting yourself in for. This is practiced by many ramen lovers. The flavor is so rich and complex that you begin to wonder what could have been used to add so much flavor, and you may forget that you have other things to consume in the bowl.
There are many different types of ramen broths out there, including soy (shoyu), vegetable, salt (shio), pork (tonkotsu), miso, and many more. Pork broths are usually opaque and lighter in color. Soy and salt broths, tend to be "thinner" broths, without the cloudiness of the pork broth. A lot of times, the base broth is pork, and they'll add it to the other broths for enhanced flavor.
The noodles are thick and long. They should have a slight resistance when you bite into them, making them seem bouncy. They shouldn't be served mushy. Some restaurants will give you the choice of how well-done you would like your noodles, as well as thin, regular, or thick.
All this to say, and Billy and I have stopped eating pork. Since then, it's been pretty rough not getting to enjoy ramen as freely anymore. Many places don't use other meat sources for their best broths, and I personally am not a fan of the soy or salt broths. Lately, we've been getting the fish based broths, which are amazing, but I have to be honest and tell you that nothing really beats the thick and rich pork-based broth.
Because of this, I set out to make an equally delicious ramen broth, sans pork. I knew I wouldn't be able to perfect it in one go, but was determined to get it as close as possible through trial and error.
The recipe in this post features miso-chicken broth. After eating my first bowl of this, I definitely knew I needed to share it with you. I've learned a few secrets along the way too, so I'll share those as well.
Lastly, I'd like to mention that I have this full on five hour process listed below and yes, I know how daunting that is. If you're up for it, you'll be really rewarded I promise! If you're not up for the challenge, here are some work arounds:
- Buy a pre-roasted organic chicken
- For the stock - buy organic, low-salt chicken broth and vegetable broth. Add a dash of sesame oil, and the full amount of miso. You don't need to add vegetables and boil down for this method. It still tastes delicious if you have the right miso paste. You won't get the gelatinous broth with this method, but it's good for a quicker process.
- Hikari Miso - Organic Red Miso Paste (seriously the BEST I've had- amazing flavor and excellent consistency) learn more
- Sherwood's Chinese Medium Egg Noodle - not ramen noodles, but when you're buying dry noodles from the store, this has been the closest in texture for me to what they serve in a restaurant. If you're able to find non-dried ramen noodles, check them out. I've found a really great Japanese instant noodle pack with fresh preserved noodles that were to die for. Noodles are one of those things you'll have to find your personal preference on.
Homemade Miso Ramen with Chicken
Three Part Process
1. Roast chicken
2. Make stock
3. Assemble ramen
Original recipe. Time: 1 hr 40 min total Serves: 4-6
1 whole chicken, preferably organic, rinsed and patted dry
1 sprig of rosemary, fresh or dried
1 sprig of sage, fresh or dried
1 garlic clove, gently smashed with knife
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp paprika
1 1/2 tbsp coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
Pre-heat oven to 375º F. Place whole chicken, breast side up, in a medium dutch oven. Place rosemary, sage, onion, lemon, and garlic into the cavity of the chicken. Drizzle olive oil over entire chicken. Sprinkle paprika, salt, and pepper over entire chicken.
Place in oven, and cook for 1 hour with lid on. Remove lid, and continue to cook for another 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and let rest for approximately 20-30 minutes before carving. Carve meat off, and set aside. Keep bones and all other ingredients in the dutch oven. Proceed to make the stock.
Homemade Ramen Chicken Stock
Adapted from Wagamama. NO pork and Gluten-Free. Time: 3 hrs 15 min total Serves: 4-6
Chicken bones and other ingredients, from above recipe
2 carrots, chopped
4 leeks, sliced (triple rinsed)
1-2 inch piece of ginger, peeled
4 napa cabbage leaves, roughly chopped
handful of cilantro
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
pinch of white pepper
1 dried piece of kelp, or kombu
4 oz miso paste, I use organic red
In the dutch oven from previous recipe, cover chicken bones with purified water. Fill to cover the bones. Bring to a boil, and drop heat down to medium low. Simmer for two hours and skim any foam that surfaces.
Add the carrots, leeks, ginger, and cabbage. Add more water to cover the bones and all ingredients. Bring to a boil, and drop down heat to medium low. Simmer again for another hour.
Strain chicken stock, and return to dutch oven. Discard the vegetables and bones. To the stock, add salt, sugar, white pepper, kelp, and miso paste. Stir until paste is dissolved, and taste for seasoning. Keep heat on low, so that it's just kept warm for serving.
Miso Ramen with Chicken
Inspired by Wagamama. Time: 5-10 min Serves: 4-6
Prepared chicken stock, from above recipe
Cooked chicken, from above recipe, sliced or shredded (to your taste)
9 oz ramen noodles (I like to use Chinese egg noodles too, but you may have to experiment until you find your favorite), cooked according to the package directions
1 tbsp miso paste, per serving
1 tbsp butter chilled, per serving
1 dried seaweed or wakame, per serving
2 tbsp corn, preferably organic, per serving
2 tbsp sliced green onion, per serving
4-5 slices bamboo shoots or menma, per serving
1/2 carrot, matchstick chopped, per serving
few leaves of spinach, per serving
pinch of cilantro, per serving
couple slices of cabbage, per serving
Assemble all ingredients above how you wish. I like to place my noodles in the bowl first, then place all of my toppings on. I then pour my broth over, and finish with butter and miso on top. This way, they slowly dissolve into my broth, and my noodles are at the bottom. I like it this way, but of course eat it in whatever manner suits your taste.
I serve mine with small ladle-style spoons and chopsticks.
Now really enjoy. You may want to share this meal with someone, because it's really so good and you're probably going to want to brag. Just saying ;)