The Road to Ramen, Part II

March 24, 2010 · 6 comments

Momofuku Ramen

Ramen isn’t just about the noodles, it’s equally about the broth: without a decent soup base you’re left with a bowl of wet noodles. I knew the Momofuku ramen broth would be the most time-consuming of the sub-recipes, but also one of the most critical, so I got an early start on what became a day-long process.

I assembled my ingredients: two 3-by-6 inch pieces of konbu, two cups of rinsed dried shiitake mushrooms, four pounds of chicken legs, six pounds of pork neck bones, and a pound of smoky bacon (not shown).

I rinsed the konbu under cold running water, then added it to six quarts of water in a large stockpot. I brought the water to a simmer over high heat, turned off the heat, and let the konbu steep for ten minutes.

I removed the konbu and added the mushrooms, bringing the water back to a boil before returning it to a simmer. While the mushrooms simmered for thirty minutes, I heated my oven to 400 °F.

Konbu, mushrooms — that’s a solid umami base upon which to layer more flavors. After removing the mushrooms, I added the chicken, which simmered for an hour.

While the chicken simmered, I roasted the pork bones on a sheet pan in the oven for an hour.

I removed the chicken, then added the bones and the bacon, keeping the pot at a gentle simmer, skimming foam off the surface, and adding water to maintain the volume. After adding the bones, I had a pan full of fond that couldn’t go to waste, so I disolved it on some boiling water and added it to the pot.

I also picked the chicken meat off the bones since it was still firm and seasoned with mushroom and konbu. I stored it on the fridge to use as a component for a quick meal.

Forty-five minutes after it was added, I removed the bacon and discarded it. I know, I discarded bacon. I just couldn’t figure out what to do with boiled bacon which had given up most of its fat and flavor, but now I had a huge pot of bacon dashi with more meaty goodness added. I continued to simmer and skim the pot for six hours, but stopped replenishing the water after hour five.

For the last hour of simmering, I added a bunch of scallions, a medium onion cut in half, and two large chopped carrots.

At the end of the final hour, it was time to strain out my final product.

I removed the pork bones with a large spider, then strained the broth into a second pot. I reserved six cups of broth for the next day’s ramen, seasoning it with taré until it was almost, but not quite, too salty. I stored it in the fridge, where it awaited its soupy destiny.

I reduced the remaining broth by half and portioned it into cup and a half servings, which can be reconstituted with an equal volume of water for later use. I froze these in the Deep Storage Facility.

Taré made, pork(s) roasted, broth prepared – the next day would be the home stretch.

Sources:

Pork bones, chicken legs, konbu, shiitakes, scallions: H Mart

Bacon: North Country Smokehouse

6 comments

Jeff March 25, 2010 at 1:56 pm

I just went through the whole process of making this recipe, with good intentions of making ramen. However, before we got to the ramen, we ended up using the whole batch for french onion soup. I have to say it was easily the best french onion soup…ever.

David March 25, 2010 at 2:15 pm

You used up six quarts of ramen broth to make onion soup? I hope you served a lot of people. I may try the soup with some of my reserved broth.

Jeff March 25, 2010 at 9:01 pm

no, I had to scale the whole thing back since I was working with a mere two blade bones that I had saved from a batch of sausage made from pork butts. The chicken bones came from a whole bird that I smoked so I believe I omitted the bacon.

I think we served at least 8 crocks of soup with the amount of stock I made.

btw, I just made the pork belly ssam with the mustard seed sauce. Lets just say, David Chang is my hero.

here’s a pic of my attempt:
http://picasaweb.google.com/5centsmoker/20100324Ssam

btw, thanks for the H mart tip. I was in Boston this weekend and we stopped at Hmart on the way back to Buffalo. The sliced belly in the pic came from there.

David March 26, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Nice photo. I’ve thought about making the whole shoulder Bo Ssäm, but I need to gather a lot of people to feed it to.

Glad you liked H Mart. It’s a good thing I have to plan trips there, or I’d be spending a lot more money.

How did you find my tiny blog?

Jeff March 27, 2010 at 7:27 am

I don’t recall, but I imagine it was through someone’s blogroll. I subscribe to about 50 cooking and bbq related blogs through google reader and occasionally I look through the actual sites to see if I’m missing anything interesting.

As a science teacher and a cooking enthusiast, I find your blog to be one of the more interesting to read. An I’m cool with anyone who reads Pharyngula.

David March 27, 2010 at 3:57 pm

We scientists have to keep educating. As my friend Penn Jillete says “Science doesn’t have a chance until people learn to carry their intelligence the way James Dean carried his cigarette. “

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