more about ramen.

Ramen. A staple in japan. A delicacy in South Africa. I’ve seen it on Netflix, and anime. But, couldn’t find a spot that could offer this kind of yum… so, I made it myself. Over the past weekend, I had some friends over, to have some yummy ramen, and play some card games.

This was my third attempt at ramen, and so far, think it has been my best. It can always get better, right?

Here goes. When making this, allow ample time. I started cooking the broth a day before my dinner guests arrived, to impart the most flavour and yum!

Here’s what you need to add to your shopping list (makes enough for 7 hungry friends or 10 normal people):

5 litres water (make sure you have a rather large stock pot of sorts)
3 whole chickens
carrots (2 giant, or 4 average ones)
onion (2 average onions. shame)
spring onions (a bunch. chopped. sans the roots. add more to your list for serving. chop that too.)
celery (a stick. or leave it out.)
konbu (big green, dried, seaweed things. about 1 – 2 of those elaborate things. broken up into manageable pieces.)
dried shiitake mushrooms (roughly a cup, or so)
bamboo shoots (for serving. buy a tin. find a use for the rest. somehow.)
eggs (1 per person)
bean sprouts and / or microgreens (ja, a packet?)
nori sheets (also a packet, cut into strips – not too thick or thin. this is a garnish.)
noodles (one ball of noodles per person. equals to about 2 – 3 spaghetti spoons?)
chopsticks (per person)
soy sauce (for taste, I bought low-sodium, because I am clearly no fun.)

Right, so I found most of the Asian ingredients at this very cute Asian supermarket at the carreira centre in Randburg. I’m not sure about any others (comfort zone)… so might be worthwhile to scout around. Part of the find was fresh (frozen) noodles. Much better than the packets of last-foreverness… but that’s my opinion.

Here’s what you need to do to make the ramen:

Add the water and the konbu to the pot. Keep the pot on a medium-ish heat. No rolling boil, but hot. A simmer will do. Let the konbu steep until it colours the water. Take the konbu out. Add the dried mushrooms and only remove when they’re all rehydrated.

Whilst that is happening, portion the chickens. Take off the legs, wings, breasteses and everything. Keep the carcasses. Save the breasteses, and when you remove the mushrooms, add all the chicken except the saved meat (you’ll eat that later).

Get the water up to a boil (not rapid) and stir and check occasionally. Scoop off any scum / impurities. Once all the frothy bits are gone, it is the point where I then leave it, pass out on the couch for the night, wake up later, turn it off and go to bed.

The next morning, add the veggies. Peel and roughly cut the carrots. Peel and half the onions. Chop the celery stick (if you’re adding it). Put it into the broth. If the water looks like it’s evaporating, top it up.

Once the veggies are cooked (about an hour or so of a simmer), you can start straining the broth. Here I used a sieve and muslin cloth. And a large bowl. Strain it out and throw away all the bones and veggies and stuff. Keep the liquid and put it back into the washed pot. (Yes. You have to do dishes. In between, unless you have two stock pots. In which case, great!)

Now, you can leave the broth on a simmer and to need to season it. If it needs some flavour, you can add some of a stock block, or some soy sauce. Until you’re happy with it. Add your chicken breasteses and cimmer until cooked. Take it out, let it take a chill pill and cut as desired when cooled.

The broth can be kept warm until you want to eat. Just check in on it.

To plate up…

By now, your mouth is either watering, or you’re not even in the mood to eat anymore. Regardlessly. Get a pot of water to a good boil, and add a generous amount of salt when it is boiling.

Add noodles. Cook until done. Al denteish.

Boil the eggs. Soft boiled is ideal. Mine usually come out medium to well. Go figure. Peel and halve.

Add some of the cooked noodles to the bowl. Ladle over the broth (2 – 3 spoons). Add the egg, nori, bamboo shoots, chopped spring onion, sprouts and green things.

Have some sliced pickled chilli and soy on the table, if people want to add.

And enjoy. You’ve made ramen! Happy shhhluuurping. Keep serviettes at the ready. You’re welcome.

All mixed up. I forgot to take a pic just after plating.

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