Unless you’re one of the unlucky few that doesn’t live near a quality noodle shop, you don’t need to make your own ramen. Obsessive home cooks, however, will have a blast doing so.
Matt Goulding, author of Rice, Noodle, Fish (Harper Wave/Anthony Bourdain, 2015), says, “It’s absolutely possible to make great ramen at home, but it’s a serious undertaking. Simmer bones for hours or days, make your own tare and chashu, find a reputable brand of ramen noodles—all in, it could be a multi-day project to produce a bowl as good as your average ramen shop down the street. That’s the brilliance of Japanese ramen culture. For $10, or usually quite a bit less in Japan, you get a bowl of extraordinary complexity that required an incredible amount of labor and, hopefully, craftsmanship to make.”
Here is our simplified home version of a rich Sapporo-style miso ramen.
- 2 tablespoons lard or butter
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 knob ginger (about 1-inch square), minced
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- ¼ pound ground pork
- 4 cups pork stock (can substitute chicken stock)
- 3 tablespoons miso paste (preferably akamiso [red] or awasemiso [mixed])
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon saké or mirin (add ½ teaspoon sugar if using saké)
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon chili paste (optional)
- 8 ounces thick ramen noodles (chuka-men), dried or fresh
In wok or soup pot over medium-high heat, melt lard or butter. Add garlic, ginger, shallot and ground pork. Fry until pork is lightly browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add stock. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low. Add miso paste, sesame oil, saké (with sugar) or mirin, soy sauce and chili paste, if using. Let simmer 10 minutes. Divide among large shallow bowls.
While soup simmers, cook noodles per package directions in separate pot. Drain well, and divide noodles between two large soup bowls. Ladle soup over top. Add desired toppings to taste.
Note: It’s best to use a quality Japanese brand of fresh ramen, like Sun Noodle or Kobayashi—most come with a packet of instant seasoning that can be discarded or saved for other uses. Toppings can include: Chashu (sliced roast pork), stir-fried bean sprouts, soft-boiled eggs (peeled and halved), chopped scallions and corn kernels sautéed in butter.
Penner-Ash 2015 Viognier (Oregon); $35, 92 points. Kevin Reilly, master sommelier and general manager of Two Birds One Stone in Napa, California, tells us, “To balance the salt and richness, a white wine with light to moderate residual sweetness is a great option [like] Grand Cru Pinot Gris from Alsace, or Vouvray Sec. For the wine drinker not fond of residual sweetness, Viognier’s fuller body and less-pronounced acidity can work very well. Its ripe fruit character and creamy texture intermingle nicely with the broth’s intense flavors.”