Shio Ramen

Happy National Ramen Day! And as the dish became more popular in recent years, more efforts have been put into the studying and perfection of ramen. Similar to the 5 “mother sauces” in French cuisine, there are 4 “mother broths” in Japanese ramen. I have recently written a recipe for one of them, the Tonkostu ramen, a style with a rich, thick, creamy pork bone broth. However, it is a very new style of broth, at least compared to the one we are making today, the Shio ramen.IMG_6452

The Shio ramen is probably the oldest style if ramen, the word “shio”, which literally means 塩/salt perfectly describes the main flavors of this broth. However, don’t be afraid of the sodium, the base of the broth is usually made with clear chicken or seafood broth, with a “salty tare” + dashi, which contains a lot of natural salty ingredients, and chicken fat.

This recipe only takes 5 hours, which is a lot less than the “24 hours Tonkotsu Broth”, and like the Tonkotsu recipe, you can make a big batch of this and save them for later.

For the Chicken Broth, You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 of a whole chicken
  • 3 liters or 12.5 cups of water
  • 2 springs of green onions
  • 1 thumb size piece of ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 5 grams or 1/5 oz of sea salt

For the Salty Tare + Dashi, You’ll Need:

  • 1/4 liter or 1 cup of water
  • 1 palm size piece of kombu
  • 5 grams or 1/5 oz of katsuobushi
  • 5 grams or 1/5 oz of sugar
  • 10 grams or 1/3 oz of sea salt
  • 3 piece of dried shitake mushroom
  • 30 ml or 2 tbsp sake
  • 30 ml or 2 tbsp mirin
  • 30 ml or 2 tbsp soy sauce

You’ll also need:

  • 4 servings of ramen noodle (dried or fresh)
  • 2 springs of green onion
  • Cha Shu (Japanese braised pork belly)
  • Ajitsuke Tamago (Japanese pickled eggs)

How to make this:

  1. Trim as much skin and fat as possible off the chicken, then blanch it in boiling water, rinse and clean the partially cooked chicken, then place it in a pot of 3 liters, clean water with the ginger, garlic, and green onion. Bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn the heat down to low and let the broth simmer for about 5 hours.
  2. Heat a pan over medium heat, and fry the trimmed chicken skin and fat until most of the fat is rendered out, which should take about 10 min, strain & save the fat in a container.
  3. About 30 min before the chicken broth is complete, place the kombu, katsuobushi and shitake mushroom in 1/4 liters of water. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat, then add the sugar, salt, mirin, sake, and soy sauce, lower the heat and let the mixture slowly simmer for about 15 min or until it turns slightly thick.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to boil, then place the ramen noodle in the water, stir a couple times, wait till the noodle is cooked, then strain it.
  5. Place the noodle in a large bowl, then add 2 spoons full of the salty tare + dashi, with about 1 cup of the chicken broth, and a couple drops of the chicken fat. Serve with some thinly sliced green onion root, some Chashu, and an Ajitsuke Tamago, then Enjoy!

 

Advertisements

Tonkotsu Ramen

IMG_3714On a warm winter evening, nothing can beat a warm bowl of noodle and soup, and one of my favorite noodle dishes is Japanese Ramen! The flavorful broth matched with the chewy but tender noodle with toppings like Tempura or Char Shu is just the perfect combination. Even though the wildly popular soy & miso broth are amazing with the curly, thick ramen noodle, my favorite on a cold winter night is a very special ramen, known is the west as Tonkotsu Ramen.

Tonkotsu ramen is a ramen dish that’s from Fukuoka, on the Kyushu island (southern end) of Japan, and it is a specialty in the region. Like many amazing dishes, like Pot-au-feu, Barbacoa, Mujaddara or Gumbo, it has a humble origin, and it is famous for the long preparation time. Invented as an affordable fast food for workers on the harbor and fish market, the soup broth is used cheap pork bones and affordable other ingredients, which is typically boiled for several hours. The dish is traditionally served with thin ramen noodles so they can be served quickly during the short breaks, and topped with sliced Char Shu, braised pork belly. In Japan, Tonkotsu ramen is also known as Hakata ramen, so when you are they, give it a try!

Today, we will make a version where most ingredients can be easily gathered in the western world, since a lot of ingredients are hard to find outside certain countries, so if you are a ramen snob or purist, please understand that even though this is not exactly the same as how they make it in Fukuoka, the flavor is similar, the ingredients are affordable and easy to find, and the most important thing of all is that it is DELICIOUS. Let’s make it! (Also, this takes about 24 hours to make, so be prepared.)

Here’s how to make one of the most iconic toppings for ramen: Cha Shu

You’ll Need:

  • 1.5 kg or 3.3 lb pig trotters (if you can’t find it, don’t worry, just use the same weight of pork soup bone (*ask your butcher), plus about 0.45 kg or 1 lb of chicken wings)
  • 1 kg or 2.2 lb chicken backs and carcasses
  • 1 large onion
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 1 knob ginger
  • 2 dozen scallions, white parts only (save the greens for garnishing)
  • Optional: 1 pound slab pork fat back

How to make this:

  1. Cut the pig trotter crosswise into 1-inch disks (or ask your butcher to do it for you), bring a large pot of water to a boil, then place pork and chicken bones (and wings) in the boiling water to blanch them for about 2 min. Strain and wash all bones under cold water, removing as much as the dark marrow (actually coagulated blood).
  2. You now need to char the aromatics, if you have a blow torch, you can just char the surface of the onion, garlic, and ginger. If a blow torch is not available, heat the vegetable oil in a medium cast iron or non-stick skillet over high heat until lightly smoking, then add onions, garlic, and ginger, tossing occasionally until deeply charred on most sides, which takes about 10 minutes total.
  3. Place the bones in the pot with charred vegetables, scallion whites. Add water and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, skimming off any scum that appears, then reduce heat to a bare simmer and place a heavy lid on top.
  4. Cooking until broth is opaque with the texture of cream, which takes about 14 to 16 hours, add a little bit of water to keep the bones submerged at all times, which is about once an hour after hour 4. (If you must leave the pot unattended for long period of time, top up the pot and reduce the heat to the lowest setting while you are gone. Return to a boil when you come back and continue cooking) 

  5. Once broth is pretty much done, cook over high heat until reduced to around 3 quarts. Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer, then strain again through cheesecloth. Skim liquid fat from the top.

All you need to do after the broth is completed is to cook some thin straight noodles, which is traditionally used at ramen shops in Fukuoka, add a couple slices of Cha Shu, Ajitsuke Tamago (Japanese pickled eggs), and enjoy!

Ps. These are the Ajitsuke Tamago (Japanese pickled eggs), I soft boiled the egg and pickled it in a soy-mirin-sake marinade for about 24 to 72 hours in the fridge.

 

 

Cha Shu

img_0874Cha Shu is a tender, salty, sweet, fatty, melt-in-your-mouth slices of braised pork belly. Though it originated in China, the Japanese adapted it and made it their own. It’s just the perfect topping for a bowl of lovely, warm ramen.

 

 

 

 

You Need:

  • 0.9 kg or 2 lb slab of boneless pork belly, with skin-on
  • 120 ml or 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 250 ml or 1 cup sake
  • 250 ml or 1 cup mirin
  • 100 g or 3.5 oz sugar
  • 5 scallions stem (aka the white part)
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 3 thick slice of ginger
  • 1 shallot

How to make it:

  1. img_3643.jpgIf the pork belly you have is in a long rectangular shape, you can lay pork belly on cutting board and roll up lengthwise, with skin facing out, then tie it up using butchers twine. If you don’t have a shape like that, you don’t have to do this.
  2. Sear the surface of the pork belly until the sides except for the skin on top is browned. Then heat 1 cup water with the soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar, scallions, garlic, shallot, and ginger in a saucepan until boiling. Place the meat in sauce and transfer it to a 135C or 275F oven, turning pork occasionally, until pork is fully tender which should take about 4 to 5 hours.
  3. Place it in a sealed container (ideally something here the meat can be fully submerged in the sauce) and refrigerate until completely cool (ideally 20 hr so the meat can absorb the maximum amount of flavors)
  4.  When ready to serve, remove pork belly and strain broth. Slice pork belly into thin rounds, then heat the slices with a blowtorch, charring its surface, then serve.

Tempura

Tempura is a very popular side dish in Japan and they are delicious! Usually made with battered, deep-fried seafood or vegetables, the crispy & flaky shell is a perfect contrast to the soft moist center, and due to the use of a light batter and short frying time, it’s much healthier than most fried food. As I said before, you can use both seafood and vegetable for this because they both have short cook time, the Ebi(shrimp) Tempura being the most famous of them all! This dish is simple, quick, and a good recipe if you are a beginner in the fanatically delicious (and not so healthy) world of deep frying. Since this is a side dish, you can have them with some soba or udon or ramen, or roll them up into sushi rolls, you can also just eat them with some rice! The possibility is endless, so let’s make this!

You’ll need these for the tempura:

  • 15 large shrimp
  • 10 fresh mushrooms
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 sweet potato
  • About 6 cups (1.5L) vegetable or peanut oil for frying
  • 2 cups (300g ish) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp (3g) baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups (600ml) ice-cold water
  • Optional: (white onion, sliced fresh lotus root, carrots, scallop, fish and more)

You’ll need these for the dipping sauce:

  • 2 tbsp dashi
  • 2 tbsp mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
  • 4 tbsp light soy sauce

How to make this:

  1. Peel, devein, the shrimps, but the tail shells need to be left intact. Make a couple light cuts across inside curve of each shrimp and gently press it flat on a cutting board
  2. In a deep, heavy-duty pot over medium heat, heat up the oil to about 160C or 325F degrees
  3. In large bowl add the icy water, then mix in the flour & baking powder, it is very important to not over whisk the batter because it creates gluten, which makes the crust not crispy, I would recommend using low protein flour like cake flour, and instead of whisking, stir the batter lightly with a chopsticks for less than 10 sec
  4. Dip shrimp and vegetables into batter and fry, turning occasionally, until golden, which takes about 2 min. If you try to fry shiso leaves (not recommended because it’s very dangerous for beginners), only coat 1 side, then drop, and place it in batter-side-down for about 1 min minute. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  5. Serve tempura immediately with dipping sauce, which you can make by heating up the dashi, mirin and soy sauce in a small saucepan until it just thickens

 

Katsu Curry

Japanese food is not only famous for its traditional dishes like sushi, ramen or the different “don”s, but also for perfectly incorporating western ingredients & flavors into traditional Japanese cooking, these dishes are called Yoshoku or western food. So, today, we are making an easy and fast dish that you can find almost everywhere in Japan.

IMG_6930

You’ll need these for the Japanese curry:

  • 3 cubes Japanese curry roux
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 lb mushroom
  • 1 large potato
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion
  • 1 tbsp oil

You’ll need these for the katsu (fried pork chop):

  • 2 slices pork loin chops
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumb
  • oil for frying

How to make this:

  1. Slice the onion and mushroom, then sweat them in an oiled deep pan or pot over medium heat. Peel the carrot and potato, cut them into 1/2-inch or 1 cm thick cubes, add them to the pan/pot and sautée for about 1 min, then add the chicken broth, bring it to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15 min
  2. Pre-heat the oil to 170C or 340F. Lightly pound the pork chop, cover it with flour, drench it in the beaten egg, then cover it with panko bread crumb. Fry them for about 7 to 8 min
  3. Add the curry roux cubes into the stock with the cooked vegetable, stir gently while the stock is simmering for about 2 min or until it thickens
  4. Cut the pork chop, serve it over some rice and cover it with the curry sauce

Japanese-Style Pancake

Even though I always prefer waffles than pancakes, however, if there’s one type of pancake that I will always get whenever it is available, it’s the Japanese-Style pancake. It’s thick, fluffy, light, and jiggly, and super fun to eat & make. This recipe makes about 4 pancakes

IMG_6440

You’ll need:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup pancake mix
  • 4 egg whites

How to make this:

  1. Mix together the egg yolks, milk, and pancake mix until it turns smooth
  2. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until it has a stiff peak, add the sugar while you are whisking
  3. Carefully fold the egg whites into the pancake batter
  4. Grease a 3.5-inch metal ring mold and set them in the middle of a pan over the low heat, fill the molds about 1/2 of the way full, then cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, then flip it over, Cover and cook for another 5 minutes
  5. Serve it with butter, syrup, and berries

Teriyaki Salmon

I lived in Seattle for about 5 years, and one thing I absolutely adored is the teriyaki. However, the teriyaki most of us who live outside Japan are familiar with is very different from the traditional teriyaki. This is not only in the flavor of the sauce (traditional sauce tends to be more savory than sweet) but also the choice of meat. In Japan, fish are usually the preferred protein to go with this sauce, whereas most places outside Japan like to use chicken & beef. The preparation method is also very different, very often, the fish are not marinated but simply seared/grilled then brushed with a layer of sauce, which make the natural flavor of the fish more outstanding. Despite all that, everyone has their favorites, and for me personly, the two style has diverged so much from each other that I wouldn’t even consider them to be the same dish, and I enjoy them both equally.

 

You’ll need:

  • 1 lb salmon with skin (very important to have the skin on, once you fry it, it will become crispy like chips)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp sake (or Chinese rice wine or dry sherry)
  • 1 tbsp mirin (or 1 tbsp sake + 1 tsp sugar)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

How to make this:

  1. Slice the salmon across into 2-3 inch wide pieces, this will help the skin crisp up faster, pad them dry with some paper towel and lightly season it with salt and black pepper
  2. Heat up a skillet over medium-high heat with the oil, when the pan is heated, place the salmon skin down onto the pan, there will be some oil splatters if you didn’t dry the skin enough, so make sure the salmon skin are dried
  3. Bring the heat down to medium, then let it sear for 2-3 min or until the skin has crispened up (or no longer sticks to the pan), then flip the salmon over, turn up the heat a little bit, then pour in the sake, mirin, sugar & soy sauce mix, once it starts to simmer, turn the heat back to medium and  let the sauce slowly thickens, this will take about 2-3 min, do not cover the pan at any point
  4. Once the sauce holds a syrup like texture, it means the salmon is done too, place the salmon on another plate, then brush on the chicken sauce, which at this point is more like a beautiful glaze
  5. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds and chopped spring onion, serve it with some rice and steamed veg

 

If you want to find out how to make the non-tridtional teriyaki chicken, you can find it here