Sunday, 17 November 2013


Prior to going to Tokyo, and probably as I had been planning the Tokyo trip I had a massive yearning for ramen one weekend. The bf was away, oop north camping with the midget, so I trudged into Chinatown (well slipped and slid, it was peeing down, I’d forgotten an umbrella and was wearing new ballerina’s.. West End pavements seem to resemble ice rinks in the wet: it was a bloody nightmare) to scour the shops for ingredients.

It wasn’t entirely successful to be fair, as there were a few things I just couldn’t find. And in the end after finding an interesting looking instant ramen noodles packet in the Japan Centre I decided that I would have two attempts: one made with said instant noodles, with toppings of my choice.. and one made with a bit more effort (although admittedly not much more) and using fresh ramen noodles.

In the case of the latter it would of course have been much better to make my own ramen broth but at this point I was soaked, had nearly slipped over at least a dozen times and was miserable - and I had found some ramen seasoning cubes in the Japan Centre so thought I’d give them a go.

Not exactly making from scratch then but still more so than the ramen noodle soup packet I was also to try out.

I also wanted to get chashu (char siu pork) but couldn’t find any anywhere and really just didn’t have the time to make that from scratch. So what I have instead is some pork loin slices, from the deli section in Tesco and just to up the pigginess some very finely sliced pork belly, also found in the Japan Centre. It’s actually intended for Shabu Shabu, hence the thinness of the slices but what the hell, I thought I’d give it a go.

Ramen #1
serves 1

Interestingly these weren’t particularly cheesy but rather gave a rich umami-ness that was kind of reminiscent of tonkotsu ramen. It really worked pretty well and I’d definitely get these in again as a store cupboard standby for a quick ramen fix.

pack of instant “cheese” ramen noodles
2 cooked pork loin slices
seasoned bamboo shoots
1 spring onion, finely chopped
1 medium-boiled duck egg
light soy sauce
nanami togarashi

Basically cook the noodles according to the package instructions: or if you are me study the Japanese instructions and ingredient packets until you can just about figure out the instructions.

I knew the noodles were cooked in 550ml for 4 minutes and that two of the 3 sachets went in with the noodles and the third on serving.. it took some doing: my knowledge of Kanji isn’t brilliant (ahem - I know about 3 characters and that is only since returning from Tokyo) but I got there in the end.

The sachets are:

Ramen seasoning -

Toppings (a bit stingy but I did like the bits of “fishcake”):

And cheese flavouring:

I think it was the cheese that was added last, I can’t recall.

Anyway, once the noodles are cooked, tip the lot into a bowl, and top in as an artistic fashion as possible the chopped spring onion, pork slices, halved egg and menma. Dash a little soy onto the eggs and sprinkle a little togarashi over the lot.

Slurp away!

Ramen #2
serves 2

Because I was ostensibly making a little more effort here I also went a bit more for it in terms of the toppings, as you can see

100g fresh ramen noodles
1 litre ramen stock (made up from ramen seasoning sachets, I used 3)
½ pkt dashi seasoning (about 2.5g)
2 medium-boiled duck eggs, halved
6 cooked pork loin slices, halved
4 slices thinly sliced pork belly (or unsmoked streaky bacon), lightly cooked
½ small can sweetcorn, drained
2 spring onions, finely chopped
Some nori (cut into strips)
3 tbsp seasoned bamboo shoots (menma)
chilli oil
light soy sauce to taste (optional: I sprinkle it over my egg yolks)
nanami togarashi (optional)

Place 2 bowls in a low oven or in hot water to warm them and make sure to have your toppings prepared and at hand, ready to serve. 

Make the ramen stock according to instructions, adding the dashi seasoning (for a little extra oomph). Allow this to gently simmer while you cook your noodles according to how you like them. 

In Japan there are varying degrees of “hardness” of noodle (also dependent on the type of ramen you get): yawame, bari, bari bari (very hard), mecha bari (super hard), and kona otoshi (noodles are plunged into boiling water just long enough to remove the flour). I tend to go for bari.

When the noodles are ready, drain them and divide them between the two bowls: add the stock into the bowl and then arrange your toppings on top, circular fashion around the bowl with the spring onions in the middle, topped with the chilli oil.

Serve with a little soy sprinkled over the eggs and togarashi over everything.

I also made some gyoza to go with the ramen: the recipe of which you can find on the next post.

In all honesty, both versions were terrific: the first was super quick and essentially surprisingly tasty considering that it was effectively glorified super-noodles but naturally the second version pipped it, so really the extra effort really did make all the difference.

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