Photo by Parker Feierbach
Making ramen from scratch is pretty darn elaborate. It can be a multiday affair, and if you simply don’t have time for it, it can seem very intimidating. (No, we’re not making our own noodles this time around...I’m taking it easy on you for now.) Our shoyu ramen recipe calls for making four important components: dashi and tare for the soup base, and nitamago and chashu as showstopping toppings. You can certainly eat a decent bowl of noodles without one or two of these players, but man oh man, magic happens when they all come together in one bite. Fear not: Your patience will be rewarded.
Dashi A simple, clear stock usually made with kombu (kelp) and katsuobushi (dried fish shavings, aka bonito flakes). Making this takes just minutes because we don’t want to over-extract the intense flavors of these umami-rich ingredients, but if you need an even quicker version, many stores today carry an instant powder variety called Hon Dashi: Just add it to hot broth or water, and you’re good to go. We’re doctoring our version of dashi with chicken broth and dried shiitake mushrooms for even more oomph.
Tare Called the soul of ramen by some, tare is essentially a flavored, concentrated soy sauce. We will be making this once and using it three different ways: as braising liquid for the pork belly, as marinade for the eggs, and as seasoning for the soup.
Nitamago Marinated soft-boiled egg. There is nothing more awe-inspiring than an egg done well. In this case, the eggs are soft-boiled, peeled, and left to chill in our tare marinade overnight, for 6 to 12 hours.
Chashu Braised pork belly, aka a little slice of heaven for my nonkosher friends. Seared then cooked gently and slowly in our tare mix, it might quite possibly be the most melt-in-your-mouth pork experience you’ll ever have. Pork belly with skin on is the best cut to use, but if you can’t find that at your local butcher, pork shoulder will do just fine.
La-yu I lied! There are actually five components! But this one is a bonus for my garlic-loving spice heads and it’s totally optional. Inspired by my favorite ramen condiment, found at Chuko in Brooklyn, this is a take on Japanese chili oil with savory pieces of garlic confit gummies and tiny pops of sesame. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better!
When you want to cook to impress, few dishes can top homemade ramen. This recipe makes enough broth and toppings for 4 servings and keeps well in the fridge for a week, so if you're cooking for one, it’s the perfect thing to make on a Sunday and heat up throughout the week.
For chicken dashi (stock)
8 c. low-sodium chicken broth
16 dried shiitake mushrooms
30 g kombu (kelp), about a 10" square piece
20 g dried bonito flakes (about 2 c. loosely packed)
For tare and chashu (marinade and pork)
1 1/4 c. low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/4 c. mirin
1/2 c. sake
1 1/2 c. water
1/4 c. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 2" piece fresh ginger, sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 green onions, halved
1 lb. pork belly, skin on, cut into 2"-wide strips
For nitamago (marinated eggs)
4 cold large eggs
2 1/2 c. reserved chashu-tare liquid
For garlic la-yu (chili oil)
8 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 c. canola oil
1 tbsp. ground chili or 1 1/2 tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp. sesame seeds
For each serving
4 oz. fresh ramen noodles
1 1/2 c. chicken dashi
2 reserved shiitake mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp. or more tare, to taste
2 slices chashu
1 nitamago, halved
1 green onion, white and light green parts only, very thinly sliced
2 tsp. la-yu
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring chicken broth to a bare simmer. Remove from heat and let cool 2 minutes. Add in mushrooms and kombu (kelp) and let steep 5 minutes. Then, add in bonito and let steep 5 more minutes. Strain and save solids for nitamago process and serving.
- Store dashi chilled, up to 1 week.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring all ingredients except pork to a low simmer and reduce heat to low.
- Meanwhile, in another medium pot over medium heat, bring pork and 6 cups water to a low simmer. Drain immediately and gently rinse pork.
- Place pork in tare pot and bring to a simmer. Cover and continue to cook on low until tender, turning pork occasionally, about 1 hour 20 minutes.
- Let cool for 20 minutes, then strain and reserve liquid for serving. Refrigerate pork and remaining liquid separately. Slice pork before serving, lightly torched, if desired.
- In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring 6 cups water to a rolling boil. Carefully prick rounded bottoms of each egg with a pin. Gently lower eggs into pot with a slotted spoon, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer eggs for 6 minutes. Drain.
- Transfer eggs to an ice bath and let rest for 5 minutes. Thoroughly crack eggshells very gently, knocking one egg against another, then return to ice bath for 10 more minutes. Peel carefully.
- Place eggs in a medium bowl and pour reserved pork-marinade liquid over. Weigh down eggs with reserved spent kombu (kelp) to fully immerse in liquid. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, up to 12 hours.
- In a small saucepan over the lowest possible heat, simmer garlic in oil until tender and translucent, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Keep the heat level low enough to avoid frying the garlic.
- Remove from heat and immediately stir in chili. Let rest 2 minutes, then stir in sesame.
- Once completely cool, store refrigerated in a closed container for up to 2 weeks.
- In a pot of salted boiling water, cook ramen, stirring with tongs or chopsticks until al dente, about 1 minute. (If using instant ramen, discard seasoning packet and follow packet instructions to cook until al dente.) Drain well.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm dashi and shiitake until barely simmering. Cook for 1 minute and remove from heat. Set shiitake aside.
- Add dashi, tare, and noodles to serving bowl. Top with chashu, nitamago, shiitake, green onion, a drizzle of la-yu, and nori, if using.