Delicious and nutritious Asian ramen soup is one of the most common “street food” soups. However even famous restaurants include this dish in their menu, year in, year out improving and polishing their recipe.
The soup is considered as a heritage of Japanese cuisine, although it has Chinese roots, and it is prepared in almost all countries of Southeast Asia.
If you are offered to try noodles dish or noodle soup, it will almost certainly be a ramen soup. The name of the dish is pronounced differently in different countries. In Central Asia it is Lagman, in Japan it is Ramen or Tuka-soba, in Korea it is Ramen. But the essence is a soup with noodles, which is prepared in completely different ways, using different products and always seasoned with local and national flavour.
Ramen in Chinese literally means “pulled noodles” that tells us much about the special way of preparing dough as an ingredient for the soup. The dough is rolled out and wound on a rolling pin, from which it is cut with a sharp knife in the shape of narrow strips or skeins. But in daily life cooking we are simply using dry wheat noodles – the ones you can buy in your local grocery store.
Initially, ramen soup was cooked using rich and fatty chicken broth with miso – a specially prepared soy paste. Various sprouts, butter, boiled or baked meat cut into slices were added to the soup. Modern versions are way more complicated, however the popularity of instant food “just add water” is astonishing.
- Chicken carcass 1
- Mushrooms 100g
- Eggs 2
- Japanese or Chinese wheat noodles 100g
- Sesame or vegetable oil 3 tbsp
- Dried celery root, parsley root, carrot 1 tbsp
- Garlic, ginger, galangal, nori seaweed, lemongrass, mirin, soy sauce, black pepper, green onion spices and additives
- We will use a whole chicken. Fillet part will be used to serve our Ramen, while the body and wings will be used for the rich broth. We can use chicken thighs for another dish. But you can use the whole chicken for the broth, except for the fillet.
- Carefully separate chicken fillet from the carcass, remove bones, skin and remnants of connective tissue. Salt and pepper the fillet with freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with 0.5 tsp. of wuxiangmain mix — you can find it in grocery stores. It is also called the spice of five flavours — a frequently used mixture like “khmeli suneli” in the Caucasus, “sharena sol” in Bulgaria, curry mixture in the East.
Brush the fillets with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil (olive, sesame, peanut, etc.) and bake in the oven until cooked through and browned.
- Cut other chicken parts in large pieces, put in a saucepan and fill with 2.5 litres of cold water. Bring to a boil. If water turns white and cloudy, drain it and rinse the chicken pieces under running water.
Refill with clean water. Add 1 tbsp. each: lemongrass, dried galangan and celery root. Bring to a boil again and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to barely a simmer for 1.5 hours.
- We need mushrooms for the Ramen. In Asia they use Shiitake or other local mushrooms. But because we are not in China, we can use dark champignons or oyster mushrooms. It is not particularly authentic, but this would work for the first time.
Rinse the mushrooms, cut off the ends of the stems and put in cold water for 15-20 min.
- Boil 2 chicken eggs for 3-4 minutes. They must be soft boiled.
Pull the chicken out of the broth — it will not be used in Ramen soup.
Strain the broth to remove any leftover chicken and spices.
Peel 4-5 garlic cloves and a matchbox-sized ginger.
Add 2 tbsp of vegetable oil (the same you used for baking the fillet) in a saucepan. Fry garlic and coarsely chopped ginger for 2-3 min.
- Add 3 tbsp. of soy-sauce and 2-3 tbsp. of mirin — a very sweet rice liquor used in Japanese cooking, an important ingredient in teriyaki. Fry for 2 more minutes. While stirring, slowly pour in the broth.
Bring to a boil.
- Boil mushrooms in broth. Boiling time may vary depending on the type of mushrooms. Shiitake can be cooked for 6-8 minutes, this is enough. Actually, the broth with boiled mushrooms is the basis of the dish. By the time it is served, it should be hot.
- Noodles are cooked separately in clean water. Boil water, add noodles and cook until done. Then put the noodles in a colander and rinse with water.
- Everything is ready. The best way to serve is to arrange small bowl portions.
Lay a portion of boiled noodles on the bottom. Put 2-3 nori sea-weed on the side of the bowl. Cut eggs in half and place on the opposite side.
- Cut the baked chicken fillet into slice across the fibers and put into bowls above noodles. Add boiled mushrooms. Chop a green onion shoot and place above noodles.
The final step — to add ready broth. Amount of broth must be measured carefully so everything except the noodles can be seen on surface.
- Serve the Ramen soup immediately while it is still hot.
As I have already said, this soup is eaten with chopsticks, and the broth can be either eaten directly from the bowl holding it by the edge or with a Chinese spoon — it is up to you.
Rich and nutritious Ramen soup is a delicious dish of Chinese and Japanese cuisines.