I had last week off (yay for working at a school!) and decided that I wanted to devote a whole day to cooking. Call me crazy, but yes, I wanted to spend a day of vacation in the kitchen! Now to only pick a recipe that would require me to actually cook all day. Since I was going to be putting in that much time, I knew I definitely wanted to make this into a date night recipe as I wanted to share the fruits of my effort. After much thought, I chose to venture into the world of ramen. Broth, protein, sauce, and homemade pasta, yeah that should keep me busy all day!
I love ramen. No, not the pre-packaged meal of college days in a cup, but the over-sized bowls with rich spicy broths, tender pork, and oh so perfect noodles. It is the perfect dish on a rainy day and with so many options for toppings, I could never tire of it. While researching recipes I realized that I would not be able to make the ramen broth in the true traditional sense of simmering bones all day on the stove because of A) I do not have the proper pots for that and B) I have not made friends with a butcher yet and would have no idea where to look for trotters. What did I have? A slow cooker and chicken broth. I’d say that would do just fine for a first attempt.
The base of any ramen is the broth, so we will start there. There are quite a few veggies that go into the broth, but in the end you do not end up keeping any of them. Their purpose is to release their tasty flavors while simmering in the broth for hours and after which they are disposed to leave a clear, clean broth. A clean broth that is with pork fat from the pork roast, but that adds an additional tasty layer 🙂
The next key component in any good ramen are the noodles. Since I was going all in on this recipe, it needed to also include homemade pasta, something I had never done before. Like any good, amateur cook, I took to the internet and found a great recipe on Instructables, a website with instructions on how to make just about anything, not only recipes. The final product came out thicker than a ramen noodle and resembled more of an udon noodle, which is another type of Japanese noodle so I was still on theme, points for me! I did not have any pasta machines at the time and rolled the pasta out by hand with a simple rolling-pin. Since then I have bought a counter-top pasta sheet roller as I now have the homemade pasta bug! If you have the extra time, I suggest giving it a try. You can always buy store-bought ramen noodles as a back-up just in case!
All that’s left after the broth and noodles are the toppings and here is where you can get really creative. For my first round, I went with bamboo shoots, enoki mushrooms, scallions, crispy pork, and a sesame garlic chili oil that I made thanks to a recipe by Serious Eats. You will also often see ramen dishes with a soft-boiled egg and if you are a fan of eggs, I say go for it!
The result of my all-day efforts in the kitchen? A tasty ramen-ish success! Looking at the dish as a whole, there is definitely room for improvement by adding layers into the broth and perfecting the noodles, but for my first attempt at this classic Japanese dish, I would give myself an A for effort! Do not be intimidated by the length of the ingredient list or amount of steps it takes to complete this recipe, remember you have all day 🙂
Broth & Pork
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of canola oil
- 2 pounds boneless, fresh butt pork roast, sliced in half
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2-inch fresh ginger piece, peeled and roughly chopped
- 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 8 scallions, white part only, reserve green for topping final product
- 1 leek, split down middle and roughly chopped
- 5 ounces brown mushrooms, quartered
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons miso paste
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- Optional Toppings: enoki mushrooms and bamboo shoots
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 12 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 6 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted in oven for 8 minutes at 350 degrees F
- 2 red dried Japanese chilies (red Thai bird chilies if you can find them)
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- Kosher salt to taste
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon water
Building the Ramen
Broth & Crispy Pork
- heat the oil in a large saute pan on medium-high heat
- when the pan is heated throughout, add the two large chunks of pork and sear one side without moving for four minutes; do a 90 degree flip and sear the other side for an additional four minutes
- remove the pork to a plate and get rid of all of the fat in the pan except for two tablespoons
- heat the reserved fat over medium-high heat and add the chopped onion and cook them untouched (that means absolutely no stirring!) for five minutes until onions start to brown
- add the garlic, ginger, and one cup of the broth to the browned onions, stirring to combine and break up the brown bits that should have formed on the bottom of the pan
- let mixture simmer for one minute and then remove from heat
- add the prepared brown mushrooms, chopped leek, white parts of scallions, and remaining broth into the crock pot
- add the onion/garlic/ginger mixture into the slow cooker and stir contents to combine
- place pork in the slow cooker, cover with lid, set heat to low and leave undisturbed for six hours
- once the six hours are up, remove the pork to a plate and place a large colander over a large bowl and strain the veggies out of the broth; dispose of the vegetables
- if you have a lot of fat floating on the top of the broth you can strain the liquid for a second time through cheesecloth
- Place the strained broth into a large sauce pot and whisk in two tablespoons of the soy sauce and all of the miso paste
- Keep the broth covered on low heat until you are ready to serve
- Meanwhile, shred the pork and toss it with the remaining one tablespoon of soy sauce and the mirin
- Place pork in a large saute pan and heat over medium heat until the pork starts to crisp up, about 8-10 minutes
- To assemble the ramen, place your noodles (either homemade or store-bought) in the bottom of the bowl, ladle broth almost to the brim of the bowl, add the crispy pork, and desired toppings
- Snap your chopsticks and enjoy!
Garlic Sesame Chili Oil
If you would like a little project to work on during your down time while the broth is cooking that will add spiciness to the broth, check out these easy-to-follow instructions for a garlic sesame chili oil created by Serious Eats!
While these noodles did not come out quite as thin as traditional ramen noodles, this recipe found on Instructables is a great beginner’s guide to making homemade pasta without any special tools needed other than a rolling pin.