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Ramen For Dinner
Your having what for dinner?
Growing up in my neighborhood was not always easy as an Asian-American child. Simple questions like "what are you having for dinner?" would result in a room full of laughter and then an onslaught of questions. After the laughter would die down I would have to first explain that their preconceived notions are wrong and then explain in fact what we were eating. The biggest and most common meal topic is ramen. Yes, you have read correctly. I said I have ramen for dinner. To this day when I tell my friends Im feeding my children ramen for dinner, a few eyebrows are raised. "Are you guys struggling?" "Do you need any help?" "Well, thats really unhealthy!" The list of quotes from friends and some family are endless. But I assure them as I will assure you that I am not starving my children. A ramen dinner is tasting, nutritious and filling.
Japanese pre-packed ramen
It's not what you think
Here in Japan ramen is a great stable food that was brought of by the chinese. Ramen is truly everyday Japanese food. Streets are line with various ramen shops and there is even a ramen museum where you can try vaious ramens from around Japan. This is not the dry tasteless block of noodles swimming in an extremely salty broth that we are accustomed to in the USA. It is not the ramen that you can buy at the local grocer for only $.10 a pack. No, my friends, this is an amazing mixture of tender noodles placed in a rich broth topped with delicious toppings. Chefs in a ramen shop train for years to be able to make a perfectly tasty bowl. As I mentioned, I grew up eating ramen and my children enjoy eating ramen. At times I make my own broth but at other times(when Im feeling lazy) I buy prepackaged ramen. When I lived in the United States I would use the ramen noodles out of the top ramen or maruchan packs and make my own broth. Here in Japan I love to keep a feel prepackage ramen on hand. Although they are pre-packaged, the noodles are fresh as opposed to dried. The soup packed is a concentrated both base instead of the dry power packets.These ready made packs cost about $2.00. The noodles are prepared pretty much similarly but the flavor is completely different.
Wanna Try It?
I love making ramen. I usually prepare the ingredients a week at a time. Don't worry if you don't wish to prepare all the ingredients yourself. You can buy many of the ingredients at an asian market or your local grocery store. First thing to consider is your soup base. This is the heart of a good ramen. You may enjoy the packages offered in the ramen you buy at your local grocery store. If you do, then use it. If you don't here is a simple soup base.
Soup Base Ingredients
- 1/2 pound pork, beef or chicken bones with some meat attached, I usually use neck bones
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ginger, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 small(3") square kombu, optional (adds great flavor)
- First cook, onion, garlic and ginger until aromatic.
- Add bones to stock pot and quickly brown on all sides
- Cover with about a liter of water
- Bring water to a boil. then reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer for 5-7 hours. Feel free to ad water as it goes down
- Cool the broth and strain. Broth can be store for a week in the refrigerator or frozen
- When you are ready to use the broth you can ladle about 1 1/2 ladles into the bowl. Add soy sauce or miso to taste if you would like.
Make Your Ramen
Some would be happy cooking and straining their noodles and adding it to the broth. If you are in a pinch then its a great lunch. But, I encourage you to have fun with your ramen. My son likes to top his ramen with a few slices of ham, boiled spinach and frozen corn ( the heat from the noodles will defrost the corn). My daughter likes to have corn, kamaboko, spinach and bean sprouts. I prefer hanjuku eggs, spinach, corn,bamboo shoots, bean sprouts and some type of meat.
- Eggs, I usually make enough for the week
- 1 part soy sauce
- 1 part mirin
- 1 part sake
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar (optional)
- Mix soy, mirin,sake and sugar. Heat the mixture to ensure sugar has dissolved
- While misture is cooking boil your eggs until they are medium. You do not want hard boiled eggs but you don't want them to be a gooey mess as well.
- While eggs are still warm peel them and place them into the soy mixture.
- Allow eggs to sit in marinade cover for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator.
- Remove an egg and slice it in half when ready to eat. Simple place it on top of your ramen and then bon appetite!
So there you have it. I usually enjoy my ramen with a side of homemade gyoza....but we will save gyoza for another hub. Ramen is a wonderful dish. You can get as creative as you like. So get started and enjoy nom nom nomin on some ramen.