The plan in Tess’s Japanese Kitchen is to blog about the 7 ramen recipes in my Japanese-cooking project book. I spent 10 or 11 hours making 2 similar, but different stocks for ramen. It’s Passover, so who would cook pork now? Well. Mr. Tess is out of town,and the weather is still cool enough to steam up the kitchen making stocks, and they will freeze until I want them.
Ramen is a whole category of food that is essentially a Japanese dish of noodles in hot broth, topped with vegetables and meat. Japanese ramen can be differentiated by the flavor-base of the broth: shio ramen (salt flavored soup), shoyu ramen (soy sauce flavored soup), tonkotsu ramen (pork bone soup), and miso ramen. Ramen can also be served chilled, fried, or served without a broth. The noodles vary from thin and straight to thick and curly, from soft to toothsome. To see regional Japanese variations of ramen, take a look at rameniac. Of course I won’t be able to duplicate the regional specialties, but we will have at least a small taste of Japan.
I recommend that you watch the movie, Tampopo (1985), directed by Juzo Itami.
- 2 pounds pork knuckles and rib bones (I used 2 pounds pork hocks and about 1/2 pound of rib bones and neck bones—I believe knuckles and hocks are the same)
- 2 pounds chicken thighs with bones (I used chicken wings this time)
- 1 small onion, cut into quarters
- 1 leek, green part only
- 1 ounce ginger (about the size of a ping-pong ball)
- 1/2 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
- one 4″ square of kombu*
- 1 teaspoon salt
Basic Stock for Ramen Noodles
yields 2 quarts
1. Hack the chicken bones into a few pieces. Do the same with the pork bones if the butcher has not done it for you (these bones are very sturdy). Put plenty of cold water into a large pot, and add the pork and chicken. Bring the mixture to a boil, and cook for 1 minute.
2. Drain the pork and chicken, discarding the water. Rinse the pork and chicken under cold running water. Clean the pot.
3. Return the pork and chicken to the clean pot. Add the onion, leek, ginger, garlic, and kombu. Add water to cover the ingredients by 1 inch, and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to low, and simmer gently, uncovered, for 7 hours, adding water as necessary to keep the bones covered.
For this first type of stock, I was very careful to maintain the simmer so low that only a few bubbles at a time would break the surface. Gentle heat means that your finished stock will be clear.
4. Strain the stock through a sieve lined with cotton cloth, and discard the bones and vegetables. Add 1 teaspoon salt, stirring, and let the stock cool at room temperature. The stock keeps 1 week refrigerated, and can be frozen for later use. Leave the fat on the surface if you’re refrigerating the stock, but remove the fat before freezing the stock.
For the second stock, I used 2 pounds of pork hocks, 1 pound pork neck bones, and 3/4 pound pigs feet. The blanching of the bones and the ingredients were the same. But I cooked the stock on higher heat with a constant boil. The boiling helped to emulsify the fat and collagen which made the second stock somewhat opaque and white.
A very mini-history of ramen: Noodles in broth have been part of Chinese cuisine as much as 4 or 5 thousand years ago, but it was during the Meiji period in Japan (19th century, a time of Japan opening trade with the world) that ramen first came to Japan. Ramen became very popular in Japan, during the difficult time before World War II (Japanese incursion into China and Korea then military personnel returning home with a taste for Chinese food) and after the Second World War (rice and food shortages and influx of cheap wheat flour from the U.S.). In 1958, instant noodles were invented by the late Momofuku Ando, founder and chairman of Nissin Foods.
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