The first time I ever saw a real snowflake❄️ was in Vermont. The kind where it doesn’t melt in your hand when you hold it. You see the details and the intricacies all melded together in perfect formation. Amazing!
The cold and the snow do not always mean you get to see these wonders. Wet snow in the PNW is not the same as the dry flakes that fall in Vermont. I have not made it to the Rockies so I will have to trust that the dry snow they claim to have is in fact dry like Vermont. My Northern East Coast experience was unique not only from the snowflakes but because winter took on more meaning than ever before. Things about winter that I love include:
- I love snowshoeing. Often your tracks are the first in the snow after the animals. 🐾
- I love the crisp cold night air. 🌌 It burns your face with a whip and a smack but reminds you why warmth is so important.
- I love a hot jacuzzi tub with snow falling around. It invigorates your mind to have the heat and cold attack your head from all sides.
- And: I love soup.🍜 It fills your insides and makes your cheeks turn crimson.
Over the years soups have become my go to meal, that never requires recipe reading. The base is the same in most soups you need a good stock whether from bones or vegetables.
The best part of making soups is you can make them as fast or as slow as you want. If you have little time you grab your mirepoix of celery, onions and carrots and saute, add some water, salt and whatever other vegetables you have hanging around the house.
Good soup though, the kind with layers is more than soup. It is the difference between listening to a lovely orchestra and playing the violin in the symphony. Each player adds depth and meaning to the music just like each layer of stock base is instrumental in creating the your soup stock.
It’s no wonder that most books I have ever read about culinary schools always start with the base, a good stock. Ramen need the same layers of attention. It’s base is full of love and sweat and time.
I never regret making my Ramen stock, I only regret not making more. I went straight to the source of what I have heard is the best Ramen around in the States from a book and restaurant in New York called Momofuku. Not yet having had the privilege of eating at MoMofuku, chef David Chang is still in my world well known for his Ramen.
His book Momofuku burst forth with his Ramen broth recipe right from the start. I assumed, I couldn’t go wrong. I didn’t.
His stock is what liquid gold must be like at the end of every rainbow.
It is brilliant.
It is beyond words.
Just eat it and you will know what I mean. You can Thank me later.
Ingredients for Ramen Broth
Recipe from Book Momofuku
- Two large pieces of dried seaweed
- 6 quarts of Water
- 2 cups of dried Shiitakes, rinsed
- 4 pounds of raw chicken legs
- 5 pounds of pork bones preferably the neck bones
- 1 pound smoky bacon
- 1 bunch of scallions roughly chopped including green stems
- 1 medium yellow onion roughly chopped
- 2 large carrots roughly chopped
- Soy sauce and Mirin and Kosher Salt to Taste
- Toppings as you like: Yao Choy, scallions, mushrooms, etc.
Instructions for Broth:
Rinse the dried seaweed under running water, then combine it with the water in an 8 quart stockpot. Bring the water to a simmer over high heat and turn off the heat. Let steep like tea for 10 minutes. Don't forget to set a timer!
Remove the konbu from the pot using a mesh skimmer. Turn the heat back up to high and bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat down so the liquid simmers gently. Simmer for 30 minutes, until the mushrooms are plumped and rehydrated and have allowed the broth to have color and aroma.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. (Unless you have done this a day ahead- See Tips below)
Remove the mushrooms from the pot using a slotted spoon or the mesh spider spoon. Add the raw chicken to the pot. Keep the liquid at a gentle simmer, with bubbles lazily and occasionally breaking the surface. Skim and discard any froth, foam, or fat that rises to the surface of the broth while the chicken is simmering, and replenish the water as necessary to keep the chicken covered. After about 1 hour, test the chicken: the meat should pull away from the bones easily. If it doesn't simmer until that's the case and then remove the chicken from the pot again with the spider or slotted spoon.
Step 5 (or Day 1)
While the chicken is simmering, or the day before, put the pork bones on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan and slide them into the oven to brown for an hour; turn them over after about 30 minutes to ensure even browning. This step can be done the day before!
Remove the chicken from the pot and add the roasted bones to the broth, along with the bacon. Adjust the heat as necessary to keep the broth at a steady simmer; skim the scum and replenish the water as needed. After 45 minutes, fish out the bacon and discard it. Then gently simmer the pork bones for 6 to 7 hours- as much time as your schedule allows. Stop adding water to replenish the pot after 5 hours or so. (I usually simmer about 3 hours)
Add the scallions, onion, and carrots to the pot and simmer for the final 45 minutes.
Remove and discard the spent bones and vegetables. Pass the broth through a stainer lined with cheesecloth. You can use the broth at this point although I usually reduce it due to lack of storage in the refrigerator. After reducing to a concentrated broth which entails cooking until about half. Pour into container and place in fridge for later use or next day. When you want to use it dilute it with equal measure of water and reheat on the stove.
Finish the broth by seasoning (do not do this and then place in fridge or freezer) to taste. I usually add Soy Sauce and Mirin mixed in a small bowl a little at a time until the taste is just right. Salty but not excessive. You may also add kosher salt if you want just a little more salt. Do not under-season however. If you don't want to add salt this is not the soup for you. NO SOUP FOR YOU. 😜
When broth is hot cook noodles in a pot of salted water, add toppings such as mushroom, cooked pork, scallions, bok choy, etc. and egg. Whatever you love on your ramen really. Just remember it is all about the broth!
Next up I will tell you how to make your own Noodles so that it is the best Ramen you will ever eat in your life.
- Cooking the bones the day ahead makes it easier to throw a piece of pork shoulder into the oven to have the shredded meat with the ramen. I love cooking a piece of shoulder at the same time as the bones simmer so as to have it all ready when the broth is ready.
- If you have access to fresh Ramen noodles at an Asian Market I recommend this over dry. Or coming soon to the blog find out how to make your own and never buy them again.
- Freeze the reduced broth in ice cube trays and have small bowls of ramen broth whenever you feel like it. Best Bone Broth Ever. Just remember to season after you have re-thawed not before.
- I love Yau Choy instead of Bok Choy for my Ramen as I get more leafy greens than stems, if you can find it!
- Don't throw away the chicken from the broth! Use the chicken for the soup or make a chicken salad. Make your own dumplings with the ingredients for the ramen and just use frozen dumpling sheets or won ton sheets. Usually found in a frozen section of Asian Markets.
Happy Ramen Everyone!