Sunday, October 16, 2011

Shoyu Ramen 醤油ラーメン

[UPDATE: see my excellent recipe for shoyu ramen here!]

If your only experience with ramen is the college-undergrad-cuisine-associated instant ramen, then you must seek out a good non-instant ramen in a restaurant specializing in ramen some time to taste its inspiration. For your taste buds' sake. It's dawned on me that when I'm talking about "ramen" with people, sometimes we're not actually talking about the same thing.

Really good ramen is tough to find in the US, but it can be found. And when it is, the lines are horrendous--a good indication of the quality of the food, but bad for the time- and food-starved. What to do? Make it at home?? It turns out, making ramen broth is very time consuming and rarely done at home. Furthermore, as Marc Matsumoto and my friend Sawa note, recipes from restaurants are jealously guarded secrets for both the noodles and the broth. Looking through the recipes people have posted online, you'll notice wide variation in approach.

Long and complicated process? Japanese people don't even make it at home? Oh hell, let's do it. Eye's on the prize. I've actually tried making shoyu ramen (shoyu meaning soy sauce, referring to the broth, which is a pork and chicken broth with soy sauce) a couple times before, based on another recipe, but found the results unsatisfactory. For this attempt, I tried the recipe that Sawa translated and posted, which was quite good. I will say, though, that you're left with a ton of concentrated pork-soy sauce broth at the end (which you can use to cook other things). I'll probably play with the approach next time, making the stewing soup more dilute with water or chicken stock. This way you don't need quite so much chicken stock or water to dilute the soy sauce broth with at the end. On the other hand, you can always cook other things with the extra soy sauce broth, as well as the other side products from the process (pork broth, lard--though I got very little for some reason, and pork-soy sauce broth), which Sawa gives suggestions for.

I'll try for tonkotsu ramen (pork bone ramen soup, which is much richer thanks to the bone stewing--that's where all your meat stocks come from, if you weren't aware) some's my favorite.



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