First, Some Top Ramen History
Momofuku Ando began the Nissin company as part of a small family operation in 1948. Facing major food shortages after World War II, Ando decided that a inexpensive, quality, and convenient ramen product would help feed the hungry masses of post war Japan.
In 1958, Ando and Nissin introduced the first instant ramen, Chicken flavor. Ironically, it was largely considered a luxury food, as it was six times more expensive that the fresh Japanese noodles (udon) sold in Japanese grocery stores at the time.
The conservative Japanese culinary scene rejected instant ramen, branding it a novelty food with little future. They were, or course, completely wrong….and Chicken Ramen sold beyond its inventor’s wildest dreams. Almost instantly (if you’ll pardon the pun), dozens of other companies were stuffing the shelves with their own versions.
By the end of ’58, grocery stores were dedicating whole aisles with this wildly popular new staple for the Japanese kitchen.
The rest of course, is history.
These days, Ramen in the US is highly misunderstood. The butt of jokes as the 4-year staple of broke, lazy college students. Ironically, nothing could be further from the truth, and Ramen…properly prepared Ramen may just be the hew food craze of the West.
The Sushi of the new millennium.
8 oz Clam broth
16 oz. hot water
2 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce
1/4 cup dry sake
1/2 lb thin sliced pork belly, in 1-inch slices
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons grape-seed oil
2 tsp. Sesame oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
1 1″ piece ginger, peeled, sliced into matchsticks
1 Tbsp. bonito flakes
1 star anise
1/2 lb raw jumbo shrimp
Heat oils in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute until onions have softened. Add pork belly and cook 5 more minutes, stirring.
Add clam broth, soy sauce, fish sauce, bonito, salt, pepper, and sake. Bring to a simmer then add water and star anise. Return to simmer. Meanwhile, toss peeled and deviened shrimp in a bowl with 1/4 cup of lime juice, and 2 Tbsp. of fish sauce. (Make another bowl of the marinate for brushing.)
Let rest 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, steam the shrimp over the simmering stock, brushing with the marinade until just pink through. Set shrimp aside.
Strain stock through a fine sieve, rinse the pot, and set pork belly and cooked veggies aside. Run stock through a fat separator, and return the defatted stock to the pan.
Bring back to a simmer and reduce by 1/4.
1 large egg, hard-boiled, peeled, and halved.
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 green onions, chopped
2 Tbsp. minced sweet onion
DOING NOODLES RIGHT
1 packet of ramen noodles per person.
Like most Asian noodle recipes, the real secret of great ramen lay in two factors, the broth, and the noodles.
If “ramen” makes you shudder at the thought of a bowl of mushy, slimy pasta, here’s how they’re supposed to be served.
1. Open the ramen packet and immediately throw away that nasty, salty “flavor” packet. Nothing good can come from it.
2. Bring 1 1/2 cups of salted water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the noodles and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain.
3. Immediately plunge the noodles in a large bowl of ice water, and stir. Let sit until completely chilled, then drain and set aside. By chilling the noodles you stop the cooking process, and tighten the gluten in the noodles back up, making them chewy and elastic to the bite again.
ASSEMBLING THE PERFECT BOWL
Place chilled noodles, shrimp, pork belly mixture, shrimp, cilantro, egg, and raw onions into a soup bowl.
Ladle simmering broth over the ingredients in the bowl, and serve immediately.
As soon as the stock has cooled enough to not burn yourself, dig in!
Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.