A Complete Course in Preparing Ramen Meals at Home

Ginger Chicken Ramen 

Level 1

Serves 6

Prep time: 45 minutes, plus time to make Ramen Soup Base and Ramen Noodles (optional)

 It’s definitely not for everyone, but when ginger shines as the star flavor of a dish, I’m a fan. You can increase or reduce the amount as you please but you know where I stand. The crispy green beans, just-cooked shoyu egg scramble, and shredded carrots balance the intensity of the ginger, especially when mixed into the soup. It’s always easiest to freeze your ginger before grating.

To Make in Advance

Shoyu Base (page 8) or your base of choice Ramen Noodles (page 13)

What You'll Need

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • Salt and pepper, to season
  • 3 tbsp grated ginger
  • 3 tbsp sake
  • 18 green beans, washed with tips cut (3 per serving)
  • 1⁄3 cup (45 g) cornstarch (I prefer katakuriko, or Japanese potato starch)
  • 3 eggs
  • 11⁄2 tsp shoyu (soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Additional Toppings
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, shredded (2 tbsp per serving)
  • Roasted sesame seeds, for garnish

 Directions

  1. Place the sliced chicken into the bottom of a deep medium-sized skillet.
  2. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, ginger, and sake over the chicken. Cover with a drop lid or aluminum foil with a small hole in the center.
  3. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook about 8 minutes, or until liquid starts to evaporate.
  4. Remove the chicken and set in a bowl. Let it cool and finely shred it. Keep the shredded chicken in the juices from the bowl until ready to serve.
  5. In the same skillet used above, heat 1⁄4-inch (6 mm) vegetable oil on medium-high.
  6. In a shallow dish, dredge the green beans in the cornstarch until well coated.
  7. Fry the green beans in batches in the oil on both sides until golden brown. Remove and set on a paper towel.
  8. Boil a pot of water for your noodles. In a separate saucepan, bring 12 cups (2.8 L) Shoyu Base to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer until it’s ready to serve. Right before serving, crank it back up to boil.
  9. Right before you are about to pour the soup in your bowls, you’ll need to make your shoyu egg scramble. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, shoyu, and sugar. Beat well.
  10. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over high heat. When the butter starts to brown, pour in your beaten eggs and very quickly mix around with chopsticks.
  11. When the eggs are barely cooked, remove from the pan and set in a bowl—they should be somewhat runny.
  12. Boil the noodles—if fresh, boil for about 1 minute; if packaged, boil for about 2 minutes. As soon as they’re done, drain well and separate into serving bowls.
  13. Pour 2 cups (475 ml) soup over each bowl of noodles. Top each bowl with a large mound of shredded ginger chicken, shredded carrots, shoyu egg scramble, and roasted sesame seeds.

Shoyu Base

Level 2

Serves up to 12

Prep time: 8–10 hours, plus 30 minutes to strain

If you’ve made my Tonkotsu Base (page 5), then you have a basic shoyudare, or strong soy sauce flavor base, with which you can combine any stock or fat to make a simple shoyu ramen. This recipe combines the stock, shoyudare, and fat into one. (Please see Rameducate Yourself on page 152 to learn about the three components of all ramen.)

With this recipe, I’ve slow-cooked oxtail sections within my broth in a good crock pot, which helps render the fat from the bones without having to constantly stir. You could also make this in a slow cooker, large Dutch oven, or heavy-duty pot. The oxtail adds a meaty goodness and complexity to the fat component that complements the soy sauce. You’ll have to go to an Asian market to find dashi, or Japanese stock, which comes in granular form—there are many varieties to choose from, so just make sure to pick one that has bonito fish as the primary ingredient. It’s also important to have dried shiitake mushrooms, as they’ll give a more intense flavor to the soup than fresh ones. The final soup will taste overly salty, but when the noodles are added in, they will soak up the sauce and balance it out.

 What You'll Need

  • 4 tbsp bacon fat (recommended), ghee, or coconut milk
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and cut into large dice
  • 1⁄2 onion, peeled and cut into large dice
  • 3 green onions, cut into thirds
  • 1 apple, cored and quartered (with skin on)
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into thirds
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 5 dried shiitake mushrooms, broken up into small pieces
  • 1 whole organic chicken
  • 4 medium oxtail sections, roughly 2 inches (5 cm) long
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 2 qts (2.2 L) low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3⁄4 cup (175 ml) high-grade soy sauce
  • 4 tsp dashi granules (Japanese stock)
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

Directions

  1. In a crock pot, slow cooker, large Dutch oven, or heavy-duty pot, combine the bacon fat, carrots, onion, green onions, apple, celery, garlic, and dried shiitake mushrooms.
  2. Add the whole chicken, oxtails, and lemon, then pour over the chicken stock, followed by the soy sauce, dashi, salt, pepper, and bay leaf—the stock should almost cover the chicken.
  3. Set the crock pot or slow cooker to high and let cook for 10 hours. If using a large Dutch oven or pot, bring to a boil over a high heat and set in an oven preheated to 200ºF (90ºC) for 8–10 hours. When the oxtail meat easily falls off the bone, your soup is done.
  4. With a slotted spoon, remove all of the larger solids and discard. Strain the remaining solids with a finer sieve into a large pot. You should have a light brown, glossy, and fat-rich soup. At this point the stock can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for 1 month.
  5. In a separate saucepan, bring the Shoyu Base to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer until it’s ready to serve. Use about 2 cups (475 ml) per serving. Right before serving, crank it back up to a boil.
  6. Pour 2 cups soup (475 ml) over each bowl of noodles. Top each bowl with desired toppings. (See How to Build a Bowl of Ramen on page xi for help with timing the orchestration of your ramen components.)

Ramen Noodles

Level 3

Serves 8

Prep time: 3 hours

There’s no getting around the fact that making every element of ramen from scratch is a lot of work. The good news is that almost all the components—the fat; the tare, or highly flavored season component; the broth; the toppings; and the noodles—can be made over the course of several days. If you make these ahead of time, then when you’re ready to assemble your ramen, it can be done relatively quickly. These noodles can be wrapped in individual portions and frozen for up to one month. You will need a pasta machine, and I’d recommend using an electric mixer with a dough hook, unless you want to develop Popeye forearms.... Remember, there are lots of other, easier noodle alternatives that are perfectly fine. Any of the following will work, just throw out those salty flavor packets:

  • fresh noodles from a ramen shop
  • fresh packaged noodles that come with a soup-base packet
  • dried ramen noodles for instant ramen
  • dried chuka soba noodles (chuka soba actually translates to “Chinese noodle,” which are, in fact, ramen noodles)
  • gluten-free packaged ramen noodles or rice ramen noodles for dietary restrictions

 If you do venture down the homemade noodle path, then keep this in mind: a perfect noodle has a yellow hue, should be cooked al dente, and have a chewy and elastic, yet firm texture that holds up to the soup without getting soggy, all the way until the very last slurp.

  What You'll Need

  • 2 tsp “baked baking soda” (recipe on page 14 or bottom of this page) or kansui powder
  • 1 ¼ cups (295 ml) water (if you are hand-kneading, change water quantity to 11⁄2 cups, or 355 ml)
  • 3 ½ cups (490 g) bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ½ cup (60 g) cake flour
  • 1 cup (150 g) wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • Cornstarch, for dusting

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the baked baking soda or kansui powder and water until it dissolves.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the bread, cake, and wheat flours, kansui water, and salt. Mix for 10 minutes on the lowest speed until the dough forms little pellets. If you need to, add up to 5 additional teaspoons of water. The dough is ready when it still feels dry but comes together when squeezed with your hand.
  3. Tip the dough onto a floured board and knead into a ball for at least 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can put your dough in a plastic zip-top bag and form it into a ball so that it is easier to bring together and knead.
  4. When you are ready to make your pasta, set up your pasta machine so that it is stable and won’t slip from your work surface.
  5. Cut your dough ball into 8 equal-sized pieces and use one piece at a time, keeping the rest wrapped tightly with plastic wrap or sealed in your zip-top bag and refrigerated.
  6. Roll out one piece until it resembles a flat, long shape. Sprinkle with some cornstarch so it doesn’t stick to the pasta maker. Pass it through your pasta maker on the largest setting—it will be a bit rough at the edges, but don’t worry about how it looks. Fold it over on itself and pass it through the machine again.
  7. Reduce the machine width to 2 and pass through. Fold it over on itself and pass it through again.
  8. Reduce the machine width to 4 and pass it through only once. You will now have one long strip of dough. Cut this strip in half vertically.
  9. Reduce the machine width to 6 and pass through one of the halves twice. Repeat with the other half. Now your dough is ready to run through the noodle cutter attachment.
  10. The two strips will yield enough noodles for 1 bowl of ramen. Repeat steps 6–8 for the remaining dough pieces from step 5. Sprinkle each batch of noodles with additional cornstarch, lifting up the noodles to separate and lightly coat them, then pack them individually in plastic wrap. Let them sit in the refrigerator for at least a day before using. If you are planning to use them later, put them in individual ziplock bags and store them in the freezer for up to one month.
  11. Cook the fresh pasta in a pot of boiling water. Depending on the number of portions, cook for 1–2 minutes. Shake out all excess water and lay a portion in your bowl of hot soup by folding them over onto each other so they do not look messy. Then add the soup and toppings.

How to Make “Baked Baking Soda”

Baked baking soda replaces a Japanese ingredient known as kansui that is often difficult to find and that gives ramen noodles their signature yellow hue and firmness. Harold McGee, the king of kitchen science, discovered that by baking baking soda, you could get the same effect as the kansui. Spread 1⁄4 cup (55 g) baking soda on a foil-lined baking sheet and place it in an oven preheated to 275˚F (135˚C) for 1 hour. As this recipe only calls for 2 teaspoons, you can save the remainder in a zip-top bag. Just fold up the baking soda in the foil to make it easier to put in a storage bag.