Tokyo Dining: Never Enough Noodles!

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Noodles in broth with thin sliced green onion and a poached egg

Seriously, friends. If you like noodles, you’ll love Tokyo. In addition to the ramen and tsukemen dishes previously featured here on Crowded Earth Kitchen, there exists a seemingly endless variety of noodle bowls. Hooray!

We’re Continue reading

Tsukemen (Japanese Dipping Noodles)

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Who says you can’t play with your food? Tsukemen is not only delicious for adventurous diners, it’s a guaranteed kid pleaser and appropriate for serving to finicky friends. If you enjoy sampling dishes from around the world but are also cooking for reluctant diners, Tsukemen is a must-try.

Tsumemen is basically Continue reading

Signature Recipe: Japanese Shoyu Ramen

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The results of Crowded Earth Kitchen’s ramen poll are in! Today we’re making Crowded Earth Kitchen’s version of Shoyu Ramen, the most popular type of ramen which is flavored with soy sauce. The recipe below is pretty simple to make, and offers great flavor without a long list of hard-to-find ingredients. We’re also using pork tenderloin instead of pork belly, because pork tenderloin is more affordable and more readily available in much of the US. If you’ve enjoyed ramen with pork belly, I think you’ll find the taste of this recipe very comparable.

Two tips: First, don’t skimp on the pork stock or the chicken stock. If you have time to make your own, that’s what I recommend. If not, look for good quality stock from a butcher or specialty grocery store. Ramen “is” the broth… if the broth is just OK, your finished product will be just OK. If your broth is delicious, your ramen bowls will be delicious! Second, if you have time, it’s worth preparing your pork tenderloin the day before you enjoy your ramen bowls.

Let’s get started!

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Dried shiitakes, ginger, onion, and garlic

Ingredients (Serves 6)

16 ounces dried wheat flour ramen noodles

1 cup thinly sliced greens (I used baby bok choy)

1 cup sliced bamboo shoots

3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved

(Optional) 1 sheet nori (seaweed), cut into six pieces

For the meat:

1 pound pork tenderloin

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon white wine (I used Umeshu)

For the broth:

3 quarts pork stock

1 quart chicken stock

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons fish sauce, optional

1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms

1/4 cup onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 inch piece of ginger, sliced thin

Directions

WIN_20160701_164234Step 1) Prepare your pork tenderloin. In a small bowl, combine salt, sugar, and white wine to make a paste. Rub this paste all over your pork tenderloin. Let your pork tenderloin rest in a baking pan, covered, in the refrigerator for at least one hour or overnight (overnight is best). Then, roast your pork tenderloin, uncovered, in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Check your pork tenderloin with a meat thermometer – the internal temperature should be 145 degrees. Allow your pork tenderloin to rest for 10 minutes. Slice thin and refrigerate.

WIN_20160701_154316Step 2) Prepare your broth. In a large pot, combine pork stock, chicken stock, soy sauce, fish sauce, dried shiitake mushrooms, onion, garlic, and ginger. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, until volume is reduced by half. This will take approximately an hour, depending upon how gently or vigorously your pot simmers. I prefer a slow simmer. Allow broth to cool, then ladle or pour through a sieve into a second pot. This will strain out all of the flavor additives (mushrooms, onion pieces, garlic and ginger), leaving you with a clear, flavor-packed ramen broth! At this point, you can freeze your broth for future use, refrigerate your broth to use tomorrow, or return your broth to a gentle boil and proceed with Step 3!

Step 3) Prepare your noodles. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook your noodles according to package directions. DO NOT OVERCOOK YOUR NOODLES. When in doubt, it’s better to undercook the noodles a bit, as they will continue to cook in Step 4. Mushy noodles make terrible ramen. Seriously… don’t overcook the noodles!

Step 4) Assemble and enjoy! Here’s the fun part. First, transfer a serving of cooked noodles to a large single-serving bowl (your biggest cereal bowls will work). Second, arrange a few slices of pork tenderloin, a hard boiled egg half, a few bamboo shoots, and a few sliced greens around the edges of the bowl. Don’t mix up the toppings like you would for American-style soup… each ramen topping should occupy its own place along the edge of the bowl. Third, carefully ladle hot broth over the top of everything, to warm the ingredients. The broth should just barely cover the top the noodles… don’t drown your ramen bowl in broth. Fourth, place a small square of nori on the top of your bowl and serve immediately!

When you make this ramen, I’d love to hear from you! Please let me know if you are now as ramen obsessed as we are here at Crowded Earth Kitchen!

Tokyo Food Tour! Ramen!

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Shoyu Ramen with Dumplings and Rice

Ah, ramen. There are approximately 80,000 ramen restaurants in Japan. Try to wrap your head around that for a moment… that’s three times the number of McDonald’s restaurants in the entire world. Volumes of cookbooks have been written about ramen, the quintessential Japanese comfort food. Revered chefs from David Chang to Ivan Orkin have perfected their own signature bowls. You haven’t tried a bowl of real ramen yet?

Well, you simply must.

Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we’ll be happy to share a simple and delicious ramen recipe. We need you, our readers, to point us in the right direction! Would you prefer a ramen flavored with soy sauce (Shoyu Ramen) or a broth that’s even saltier (Shio Ramen)? Does a fermented broth (Miso Ramen) sound lovely? Or, would you prefer to go all in with a fatty but delicious pork stock (Tonkotsu Ramen)? They’re all delicious, it’s just a matter of personal taste.

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Many ramen shops have a vending machine such as the one shown here. Customers place their orders and make their payment at the machine, then give a ticket (like a receipt) to the server and wait for their food to arrive.

Vote here, and we’ll create something just for you!

 

Like Ramen? You’ll love this book!

Ivan RamenIvan Ramen

Written by Ivan Orkin, Foreword by David Chang

Published by Ten Speed Press (2013)

It has been two years since Crowded Earth Kitchen embarked on a European Food Tour, and it’s time for new culinary adventures. We are happy to announce that Crowded Earth Kitchen will soon be heading to Japan!

Among the many foods we are eager to sample, photograph, and (attempt to) recreate for you, authentic, made-from-scratch ramen is high on the list. We borrowed a copy of Ivan Ramen from our local library, based upon the cover alone. Lo and Behold, the book is fantastic! After reading the book cover to cover, we purchased a copy to keep for ourselves!

Click here to obtain your own copy of Ivan Ramen 

Right from the Foreword, the unapologetic prose of Chef David Chang had me laughing out loud. In discussing Ivan’s plans to open a second ramen shop in New York, David Chang quips, “People are going to look at you like you’re this weird thing, like the Eminem of ramen. I can almost get away with doing ramen because I’m Asian. You’re probably f#@%ed.”

A few pages into the memoir in Ivan Orkin’s own words, I knew this was a 5 Star book. Often hilarious but at times deeply personal, Ivan’s story is much more than the story of opening a ramen shop in Tokyo. In equal parts, it is also a coming of age story and a fascinating glimpse at the realities of a foreigner working to become accepted into his local community in Japan.

While the first half of Ivan Ramen is a memoir, the second half is a cookbook… a remarkable cookbook. Against the advice of his assistant, Ivan Orkin included the entire recipe for his signature Shio Ramen. This recipe is not for the faint of heart! As Ivan says, “The inhumanely ambitious can try to make a bowl in one all-day marathon (you’d better get up early). The slightly less crazy will try it over the course of several days or a week.”

Who wants to try it with us?