The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Community News Network

February 10, 2014

You're doing it wrong: how to make better ramen

NEW YORK — This is not a column about cooking instant ramen. You obviously know how to cook instant ramen. The instructions are right there on the package. The finer points of instant ramen preparation may be up for debate, but the noodle cakes and flavor packets bequeathed to the world by Momofuku Ando are un-mess-up-able.

This is also not a column about trying to make "authentic" ramen, whatever that might mean for a dish with origins as complicated and multifarious as ramen has. No, this is a column about trying to replicate fancy ramen, for lack of a better term, at home. In the U.S., the last decade has seen a proliferation of restaurants that sell bowls of ramen for $12 to $15 a pop. What's crazy is that those bowls of ramen often make you feel that you got your money's worth.

And the good news is that you can make a pretty good imitation of fancy ramen at home, in case your budget cannot withstand visits to fancy ramen joints, or you don't live within driving distance of a fancy ramen joint, or there's always a two-hour wait at the fancy ramen joint in your neighborhood. And as long as authenticity isn't your top priority, you don't have to sacrifice an entire day to make said ramen.

The main thing to keep in mind when making non-instant ramen is that everything needs to be cooked separately and combined only at the very last minute. The noodles need to be boiled by themselves in salted water and then drained. (Fresh ramen noodles are great, if you can find them; otherwise, any long wheat noodle will do.) The vegetables (and meat, if you are a meat-eater) need to be thoroughly cooked on their own. The broth needs to be heated in its own pot immediately before serving. If you like eggs on your ramen, poach them (or boil them) in their own saucepan. What I mean to say is: Plan on using lots of pots and pans while making ramen. You will go through as many pieces of equipment as live-loop musician Elijah Aaron goes through while recording a song.

My neighborhood ramen restaurant, the one with continual two-hour waits, makes a killer vegetarian ramen with cabbage, butternut squash (which adds a pleasant touch of sweetness), and an insanely delicious miso broth. A minimalist miso broth - just miso and hot water - is nutty and nuanced but kind of thin tasting. A traditional miso broth, based on the fish- and seaweed-infused liquid known as dashi, is time-consuming and requires ingredients not easily obtained in your average American grocery store. But you can make a decent, savory, not-too-salty miso broth by combining hot vegetable or chicken stock with boiling water and miso paste right before you assemble your miscellaneous ramen components.

 I'm not kidding about the "boiling" part. You have some leeway on the temperature of your vegetables and meat - it's not a big deal if they're lukewarm by the time you're putting everything together - but your broth must be piping hot when you serve the ramen, or else the whole exercise is for naught. And the noodles will soften slightly while they're sitting in the hot broth, so err on the side of undercooking them. Ramen noodles should be al dente or even firmer - if you're going to cook them till they're mushy, you may as well eat the instant kind instead.

               

               Miso Ramen With Roasted Squash and Cabbage

               Yield: 4 servings

               Time: About 1 hour, partially unattended

               1 small butternut squash (1 1/2  to 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch chunks

               1 tablespoon sesame oil

               Salt and black pepper

               1/4  large Savoy cabbage head (about 6 ounces), cut into 1-inch pieces

               10 ounces ramen noodles

               2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

               1/4  cup white miso

               4 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the squash with the sesame oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast the squash for 10 minutes. Add the cabbage to the baking sheet, stir, and continue to roast, stirring occasionally, until both the squash and the cabbage are tender and lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add the ramen and cook until al dente, usually 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the package instructions; drain thoroughly.

3. Combine the stock and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan over high heat. When it comes to a boil, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the miso until it dissolves. Divide the ramen, squash and cabbage, and scallions among four serving bowls. Pour 1 cup of the miso broth into each bowl, and serve immediately.



 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • When your doctor commits suicide, things get complicated

    When they call for appointments, patients are told they can't see their doctor. Ever. The standard line: "We are sorry, but your doctor died suddenly."

    July 15, 2014

  • NWS-HB0713-HowardMartin-004.jpg Airman laid to rest back home in Indiana six decades after death

    The mystery of what happened to a military transport plane that disappeared in the fall of 1952 into an Alaskan glacier was solved two years ago when a helicopter crew spotted the wreckage. But it took another two years to retrieve the remains of Airman Howard Miller and 16 other servicemen passengers. Saturday, Miller was laid to rest in his hometown of Elwood, Ind., with full military honors. Hundreds turned out for the funeral and burial services.

    July 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps

     I climbed the ladder quickly, free to work any hours in any location for any pay. I moved from market to market, always achieving a better title, a better salary. Succeeding.

    July 8, 2014

  • Nation's first soda tax could come to Berkeley

    The Berkeley City Council unanimously decided last week to put the 1-cent-per-ounce tax on the ballot this November. Approving the tax would mean a major defeat for the soda industry, which has spent millions to crush the effort nationwide.

    July 7, 2014

  • President Barack Obama mug Best president? Worst president? Don't read too much into those polls

    The questions about who are the best and worst post-WWII presidents are useless. What they mainly show is that Republicans are far more unified around a single story than are Democrats.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • What states can do on their own about immigration

    It's official: Congress won't take up immigration reform this year. This week, President Barack Obama said he'll use executive actions to change policies unilaterally.

    July 1, 2014

  • The Internet has changed how we curse

    Relatively recent technologies — cable television, satellite radio, and social media — provide us with a not-too-unrealistic picture of how often people swear in public and what they say when they do.

    June 24, 2014

  • May 2014 was the hottest may in recorded history

    According to new data released this week, May 2014 is officially the warmest May in recorded history.
    Both NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency have tentatively ranked May at the top of historical measurements, though NASA's numbers are preliminary because crucial information is still missing from China.

    June 18, 2014

  • facebook.png Facebook making big changes to its advertisements

    Facebook is making significant changes to the advertisements on its network, and said Thursday that it will give users more control over which ads they see on its network.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

Front page
Clinton Herald Photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.

Poll

What are your plans for the weekend?

Enjoying the outdoors
Staying in out of the heat
Traveling
Other
     View Results
AP Video
Olympics 2014
Featured Comment
Featured Ads
Blue Zones Project
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.