December 8, 2013

Home Cooking: Ivan Ramen

It's been a while, but I'm back...I recently spent some time with Ivan Orkin's new cookbook, Ivan Ramen. I've become increasingly interested with ramen in the past couple of years and Ivan's book is an homage to all things ramen. More than just a cookbook about ramen cookery, Orkin's book is also a fascinating memoir full of tragedy and triumph and his quest for great ramen.
Let's get on with the ramen making. I spent several days making the various components to Orkin's ramen. You could probably knock it out in one long day, but it just made sense to me to tackle each component separately. In fact, in the book, Orkin divides the master ramen recipe into eight separate recipes that all come together in the end for the bowl of ramen.Toasted bonito flakes for the katsuobushi salt which is used as one of the flavorings in the early steps that lead to the completed bowl of ramen.
Shio tare with sofrito pictured above with the salt and pork and chicken fat that hit the bowl first. Orkin adds sofrito of onion, garlic, and ginger to provide a unique depth of flavor to the tare.
The dashi is seasoned with konbu, dried mackerel, dried squid, dried sardines, and more bonito. Definitely produces a "fishier" ramen than the pork-based stuff I'm used to. Fishier, in a good way. Trust me.
Orkin's chicken stock is just that. A whole chicken, simmered in water at around 175 degrees for five hours. No vegetables, herbs, or other seasonings needed. Just a chicken cooked in water that produces a pure stock that tastes like the essence of chicken.
I did not make my own noodles. Sorry, maybe next time, but these noodles at Buford Highway Farmer's Market were so tasty that I don't think I'll ever kill myself making ramen noodles.
The ramen prep area: Each item above gets added to your bowl just before serving. A couple ounces of pork fat, then chicken fat, a little katsuobushi salt, a spoonful of sofrito, a little tare, then dashi and stock, partially soft-boiled egg, pork belly, and green onion threads.
The finished product: It was a tasty bowl of ramen. Well worth the effort and something I will make again with regularity. It is a "fishier" broth than I was used to having had and made mostly pork-based ramen in the past. The various dried fish added to the dashi really provide a taste of the sea that adds to the complexity of the dish. The pork and chicken fat added in step one are key as well. A tasty bowl of homemade ramen on a cold December night makes for a good evening. Cheers.

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