Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Semi-homemade ramen



After touting how much I eat ramen (see sidebar -->), I received a request from reader Angelica for a ramen recipe that was easy for a busy schedule. I have in the past gone crazy with making my own noodles from scratch and slaving away for 24 hours to achieve that perfectly flavorful tonkotsu broth, but I think there is a vast realm of possibilities with even dried, store-bought ramen noodles.

This is going to sound really weird, but I need weekly ramen fixes. It gives me a sense of comfort and a slight endorphin rush when I sit down to a warm bowl of noodles steeped in salty broth. More often than not, I'm contented with a very simple iteration, just noodles, egg and some vegetables and it constitutes a satisfying meal.

My favorite dried ramen noodles is manufactured by Wu-mu, a Taiwanese brand. Nong shim, which manufactures Shin Ramyun also makes passable noodles that approximates the fresh stuff. Both these brands make noodles that are chewy and don't fall apart in the broth. I buy the packages of ramen that come with flavorings, but I usually just throw them away since they are extremely salty and contain a massive amount of MSG.  You can find both brands easily at any Asian market. 

I sometimes stock up on fresh ramen from a local Seattle joint (Samurai Noodles). They also sell ramen kits and toppings. If you have a good ramen shop around your area, it's worthwhile to ask if they can just sell you the noodles, which you can then wrap in plastic and freeze. Again, the same holds true for fresh and dried noodles - they should cook to al dente perfection, not taste excessively floury or like alkaline. In this recipe, I also used marinated bamboo shoots that I bought a few weeks ago from Samurai, but you can find canned versions in most Asian market. Otherwise just substitute with canned baby corn.

If you're interested in making ramen from scratch, I would recommend starting off with an extremely easy and flavorful recipe from Nancy Singleton Hachisu's 'Japanese Farm Food'. My recipe, considering that it's meant to be semi-homemade, makes use of ingredients that you can easily find in most grocery stores these days. You can substitute every single ingredient in this recipe (except the ramen and broth) and still come out with a fantastic easy weekday lunch or dinner.  I use Better Than Bouillon's organic broth pastes for most of my broth needs, and I think it approximates what homemade stock should taste like, more so that things can come out of a carton.

Semi-homemade ramen 
Makes 1 serving

1 piece dried ramen
1 cup seasoned chicken broth (vegetarians can use vegetable broth or just use regular chicken broth)
1 teaspoon sweet miso (the lighter colored soy variety)

1/4 cup sliced, cooked chicken (or 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms) - see below
1/4 cup marinated bamboo shoots, or water chesnuts
1/2 cup green leafy vegetables (I used gai choy, but you can use spinach, choy sum or bok choy)
1/4 cup canned or frozen corn 
1/4 cup enoki mushrooms
4 slices nori (roasted seaweed)
1/2 hard-boiled egg
1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onions
1/2 teaspoon ra-yu (la-yu or hot chilli oil)
Shichimi Togarashi (optional)

Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Add a heaping spoon of salt. Blanch the leafy vegetables and remove with a spider strainer. If using frozen corn, blanch the corn and remove with spider strainer. Do the same with the enoki mushrooms. Blanching needs only about 30 seconds. Cook noodles according to package directions.

In the meantime, bring the seasoned chicken broth to a slight simmer in a small saucepan (or just nuke in a bowl in the microwave). Whisk in miso paste.

In a bowl, place cooked noodles and top with hot broth. Arrange all the toppings, serve with Shichimi Togarashi on the side and slurp.

Seasoned Chicken or Vegetable Broth
Makes 4 servings

4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
Handful kezuribushi (shaved bonito flakes) or a 1 teaspoon fish sauce or 1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 pieces skinless, boneless chicken thighs or about 10 crimini mushrooms

Simmer the chicken and kezuribushi in the broth until chicken or mushroom is cooked through. Remove the chicken or mushroom from the broth, let cool and sliced thinly for use in the ramen recipe above. 


  1. Love this recipe! I don't get to eat ramen as often as I crave it, and I appreciate that this is a quick, weekday recipe

  2. If you are ever down in Portland, check out Boke - they make goooooood ramen!