After making miso ramen at home, I send a photo of one of the finished bowls to a Japanese friend, together with a photo showing the broth simmering in the stock pot and the mise en place for the miso base.
The reply makes me laugh so hard. "From the broth? No one does that!! Completely crazy."
In Japan and Singapore, it is much easier to go out for a bowl of ramen, given the myriad choices in both countries. Even those who prefer to eat it at home would buy packs of instant ramen, which come with pouches of soup base and flavoured oils. They simply add their toppings of choice for a quick meal.
Indeed, you might feel exhausted just reading the interminable ingredients list and the multiple steps, and yes, making it is tiring.
This story was first published in Sunday Life on Aug 17, 2014.
For the broth
2kg chicken bones or chicken wings
4 litres water
2 medium-sized carrots, about 300g
1 Japanese leek (negi)
500g green cabbage
1 head garlic
For the miso base
1 medium onion, about 120g
20g ginger, peeled
4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbs sesame oil
200g minced pork
130g white or shiro miso
65g red or aka miso
25g ground white sesame seeds
4 Tbs hoisin sauce
2 to 3 Tbs hot bean paste (doubanjiang)
3 Tbs shoyu
For the ramen
2 to 2.2 litres chicken broth
2 Tbs vegetable oil
10g chives, cut into 2 to 3cm pieces crosswise
4 140g packs ramen (from Japanese supermarkets)
1 432g can of corn kernels, drained
4 tsp ground white sesame seeds (from Japanese supermarkets)
4 to 5 stalks scallions, sliced
4 Japanese marinated soft boiled eggs
50g cold butter (optional)
1. Make the broth: Rinse the chicken bones or wings under running water. If using wings, use a pair of kitchen shears to separate each wing into tip, flat and drummette. Place the chicken or bones in a large stockpot and add the water. Bring to a boil over high heat. When it comes to the boil, skim off the white froth that floats to the top.
2. While the water is coming to a boil, prepare the other ingredients. Peel the carrots and chop into 2cm-thick rounds crosswise. Slice the white part of the negi and discard the green part. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and cut into large wedges. Slice the whole head of garlic in half crosswise, skin still attached. Peel and slice the ginger. Wipe the kombu on both sides with a damp paper towel.
3. After skimming the broth, add the vegetables, garlic, ginger, kombu and sake. Bring to a boil again, skim and turn heat down to medium low.
4. Let it bubble for 2.5 hours. Strain the stock using a fine mesh sieve. You should have 2 to 2.2 litres of stock. If not using immediately, let cool completely and refrigerate up to four days.
5. Make the miso base: Cut the onion into chunks, slice the ginger and halve the cloves of
garlic. Place these ingredients in a chopper or food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Scrape out into a bowl.
6. Heat the sesame oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion mixture and stir-fry until fragrant, about three minutes. Add the pork and turn heat to medium. Break it up with a spatula. Stir to mix into the onion mixture and continue moving it around the pan until the pork is cooked, four to five minutes.
7. Add the miso pastes, the ground sesame seeds, hoisin sauce, hot bean paste and shoyu
and continue cooking until all the ingredients are well mixed. If not using immediately, spoon into a container and refrigerate for up to a week.
8. Finishing the ramen: Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the miso base and stir to mix well. Bring back to a boil and lower the heat to medium low.
9. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the breansprouts and chives until both are wilted. Add them to the broth and bring to the boil.
10. Bring a medium pot of water to the boil. Add the ramen and cook to your preferred doneness. Remember that the noodles will be sitting in piping hot soup, so do not overcook. Drain the noodles and divide among four large bowls. Divide the soup, vegetables and meat among the four bowls.
11. Divide the corn kernels, ground sesame seeds and scallions among the bowls. Slice the eggs in half and place two halves on each bowl. If using butter, cut the 50g slab into four equal pieces and top each bowl with a piece. Serve immediately.
Serves four generously.