Ramen time (part 2)

For your food viewing pleasure, I bring to you the longwinded tale of a sick bowl of ramen.  Do not attempt this version unless you’re ready for an afternoon of cooking.  But do not fret, for in part 3 I will reveal my tricks for turning instant ramen packs into something special without the process you are about to read.  Wipe the spittle from our chin, sit back, and enjoy!

Stage 1:  BROTH TIME (adapted from David Chang’s Momofuko Ramen Broth 2.0)

what you need to get your broth on:

1 package of konbu or dried edible kelp (for all you tel avivans you can find it now at Tiv Tam)
1 package of dried shitakes (ground into a powder)
2 or 3 chicken backs and necks (ask your Tiv Tam butcher, they will sell it to you for a couple sheks a kilo)
1 bunch of green onion (roots and white part only)
handful of dried anchovies
Large soup pot almost filled with water

Put the soup pot of water on the fire and get it heating up. You don’t actually want it to come to a boil (if you have a thermometer you want to get to 150F). Add the konbu and turn the flame off. Let the konbu steep in the water for about an hour.

Remove the konbu and discard. Add the chicken parts and turn the heat back on to medium , skim off any junk that rises to the surface.  Add the mushrooms ( i used a coffee grinder to pulverize them), and continue letting the broth simmer gently.  Add dried anchovies whole and green onion.  Let this guy sit and simmer for 4 or 5 hours. You do not want it to boil. This will cloud the broth.

Stage 2: MARINATE YOUR MEAT

*I have limited access to proper cuts of pork here, but if I had my way this dish would have been done with pork belly and the following part of the recipe would be greatly altered. Instead I did what I could with what I found. It turned out so delicious that in the end I was fine with the ‘sacrifice’ i had to make.

what you will need to get your meat on:

2 pieces of pork tenderloin
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 tablespoon ginger chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce (again I used a combination of a few kinds I had at home)
1 tablespoon mirin
1 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Put all of the above in a dish and sit your meat in it. Put it in the fridge for as many hours as you can. I threw it together once the step above (broth) was sitting on the stove happily. This ensured my pork was marinating for about 4 1/2 hours.

Stage 3:  ONTO THE TARE (also adapted from David Chang’s Momofuko)

*Tare sauce is a thickened soy sauce often use for dipping. It is a great source of flavor and color when added to a ramen broth.  Trust.

what you need to get your tare on:

2 more chicken backs/necks
1/2 cup mirin (rice wine)
1/2 cup vermouth ( i didn’t have sake, but if you have sake use it here instead!)
1 cup soy sauce (Mr. Chang calls for usukuchi soy, which is a light japanese soy). I used a combination of the soy sauces I had in my cabinet.
150 grams of slab bacon (smoky if you can find it)

Preheat the oven to a low 250 F. Place the chicken parts in a saucepan in the oven. Let them hang out and render some fat. This took some time – i ended up just drizzling them with a little oil to get the party started. David Chang also suggests you can start them off on the stove with some oil to get it going. After about 10 or 15 minutes in the oven turn up the heat to 400F.  You are looking for some serious browning.  I cooked mine for about 30 minutes before they looked seriously browned.

Once you have taken the chicken out of the oven, carefully remove the chicken parts and place aside. Meanwhile deglaze the dish that they cooked in. To do this, place it over low heat and add the sake or vermouth, using a wooden spoon try to scrape up all the stuck on bits – this is monster flavor. Add the remaining ingredients and add the chicken back in as well. The bacon will cook in the delicious liquid you have provided and it will infuse the whole lot.

This should simmer at a low pace for at least 1 hour.  Strain it and you are left with a thick syrupy salty tare fit for a ramen king.  David Chang suggests placing it in the fridge and skimming off the fat once it solidifies.

…almost there, hang on!

Stage 4:  COOK YOUR MEAT 

Preheat the oven to 375F. Cook the pork tenderloin, basting once or twice, for about 30 minutes. I checked with a thermometer to ensure the internal temperature was around 150F.  If you are like me you want the pork to remain tender and juicy, which means the center should be a little pink when it’s done.

Stage 5:  PREP/CHOP WHAT EVER ELSE YOU GOT

what you need to get your prep/chop on:

1 soft boiled *see below* egg per person consuming ramen (the recipe made enough soup to serve 7-9 bowls of ramen)
2 carrots julienned
2 green onions sliced
3 radishes sliced
seaweed, bok choy, or whatever you feel, chopped — one handfull per person
sprouts, daikon, whatever else you are in the mood for

* to get the egg cooked just right, place eggs in pot with salt and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling immediately remove it from the stove, cover with a lid and time it for 4 1/2 minutes. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Do this several times to ensure they are cooled down or rinse and throw some ice cubes in the water.  Carefully peel the eggs, they will be soft and very fragile.

Meanwhile, chop all the remaining ingredients in whatever shapes you like best. Set them aside on a plate.

 Stage 6:  NOODLES IN BOILING WATER

This part is pretty self explanatory. Cook your ramen noodles according to whatever the package says. I KNOW, i should have made my own…but look at the long list of instructions above – had I made my own noodles in addition I think the recipe would have begun to lose its joy.

GRAND FINALE: PLATE AND SERVE

Strain your broth. Add your syrupy tare to the broth. stir to combine. admire its rich deep color.

Place a pile of noodles in your serving bowl.  Top with as much ladled broth as you desire. Then, decorate your bowl with piles of the remaining prepped ingredients.  Slice off a few pieces of your juicy pork and add to the top. Carefully place your egg, if you are like me you want to slice it open and let the yolk intermix with the broth asap. TA-DA!!!    Exhausted? I hear you. That’s what part 3 is for…

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