People living in metropolitan areas will have no idea what I’m talking about. But when you’re in a small town in Europe and just need to have ramen, there’s no way of getting kombu and mirin. You’re screwed. Unless you’re willing to compromise. That being said, this westernized noodle recipe is absolutely amazing. It lacks the distinct flavours of Japanese and Chinese cooking, but nevertheless… You’ll love it. And the method of doing it, will give you satisfaction.
The ramen noodles
Simple hand made noodles from what flour. How are they different from say Italian pasta? The difference is that they’re not made from durum wheat (grano duro) nor do they have eggs in them. They are however elastic and chewy in the noodlish way you’re used to if you’ve ever been to Japan. It has always been known in Japan that some regions have better noodles than others. People didn’t know why, but knew it had to do with the water in those places. Today we know it has to do with alkaline water. So, if you want to make noodles in a place where the water isn’t ideal, you can add “kansui” (alkaline solution) to your dough. If you don’t have the perfectly balanced Japanese “kansui” products at hand (which you don’t if you’re reading this article), you can use bicarbonate soda. Yup, simple baking soda. It will do the job good enough.
- 400 grams of wheat flour
- 4 teaspoons of bicarbonate soda
- 150-200 grams of water (start with a couple of tablespoons and work your way up from there)
Instructions for the ramen
- Combine all the ingredients
- Run the dough in a stand mixer or use your hands
- Put the dough in a ziplock bag and leave it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Preferably over night.
- Roll out the dough, and fold it so it forms a rectangle. Now flatten it and you’ll have a big flat rectangle.
- Put a cutting board or a ruler or anything straight on top of the flat dough, and use a knife or a pizza cutter to make straight noodles. Make them as thin as you can, that will still be thick. And that’s good.
- Boil a lot of water. No salt.
- Boil the noodles for about 3-4 minutes. The thicker the longer. When they’re almost done (try one!), they’re done because they’ll still soften in the soup.
- Though a sieve, and rinse them in cold water. You want to remove the sliminess and you want to stop the cooking process. Use you hands to wash them.
- They’re now ready to use!
Step 1: the meat
- A kilo of pork belly with skin and fat and everything
- 4 garlic cloves
- Fresh ginger the size of 4 garlic cloves
- 4 Scallions
- 4 dl of Japanese soy sauce (light soy sauce that is)
- 1/2 dl of natural vinegar (like rice vinegar)
- 2 tbsp of rice wine (shaoshin wine if you’re in China, sweet sake if you’re in Japan, and just a sweet desert wine if you’re in Europe, like Italian Marsala)
- A tablespoon of sugar
- Neutral oil (e.g peanut oil or rapeseed oil)
- Cut all vegetables into pieces, not important how finely they’re chopped. Just do it.
- Take 2/3 of the scallions and all the garlic and ginger, and place them in a Dutch oven or German clay oven or just a pot with a lid on it.
- Add all the liquids (Soy, vinegar, rice wine)
- Add sugar
- Roll up the meat into a tight tube, and tie it together.
- Place the meat into the sauce. Roll it around there so it’s covered in the goodness.
- Cover and put into the oven on 130 degrees for about 4 hours.
- Take out the meat, let cool, and leave to refrigerate.
- Sieve the sauce and make sure to press out all the sauce from the soft veggies
- Put the sauce in the refrigerator
Step 2: the soup (this is per serving)
- Cut up a handfull of shiitake mushrooms (or any mushrooms if you can’t get a hold of shiitake)
- Add a large pinch of chopped up scallions (that you saved in step 1)
- Fry in a little oil
- Add two large tablespoons of the sauce you chilled. Notice that it’s all jelly and fat now. If you want a less fatty soup, don’t add the white fat. But I recommend a little of both the jelly and the fat.
- Two tablespoons of water
- Cook it for about 10 minutes without a lid
- Now you have a sauce!
Boil an egg
- An egg (per person)
- Bring water to a boil
- Now put the egg in there.
- If the egg came straight from the refrigerator, boil it for 7,5 minutes
- If the egg was room temperature, boil it for 6,5 minutes
- Quickly chill in cold water
- Peal it. The white is hard, the yolk is soft. That’s the way it should be.
Assemble it all
- In a large bowl, put some cold washed noodles. About 120 grams of boiled noodles per person.
- Pour soup over it, with mushrooms and scallions swimming in the soup.
- Cut the egg in two and put the twos on there.
- Cut a thin slice of your chilled pork. It’s all pale. So either use a blow torch to get the skin crackling and being all crispy, or fry the slice in a pan on high heat to give it some color.
- You’re basically ready to eat it now! But if you for any reason got a hold of some bean sprouts and bamboo and what not, you can just add it in the bowl to make it even better.