Surprisingly awesome one-hour spicy miso ramen

Surprisingly awesome one-hour spicy miso ramen

By
From
JapanEasy
Serves
4
Photographer
Laura Edwards

Good ramen is pretty simple to make at home, but really good ramen is almost impossibly difficult. Our ‘basic’ ramen at the restaurant is a complicated two-day process and the finished dish has eight different toppings, most of which are made in-house and involve quite a lot of labour in and of themselves. So even though ramen is my favourite food, I almost never make it at home, and when I do, it’s pretty much always instant ramen from a packet gussied up with a few simple toppings.

But a few years ago, I was doing some consultancy for a new Japanese restaurant that wanted to make ramen, but didn’t have the time or space to dedicate to producing large quantities of rich broth and lots of toppings. At first I thought: Bah! It can’t be done. There are no shortcuts to great ramen. But then I recalled a ramen shop in Sapporo called Keyaki that I visited in back in 2007. They did something I had never seen before, which produced an immensely flavourful and deep ramen in a matter of minutes: they stir-fried a combination of miso, pork mince and other seasonings in a rocket-hot wok before combining it with their broth, which browned the meat and caramelised the miso until the mixture was nutty and rich. I decided to give something similar a go, and it worked wonderfully. So here it is: a truly excellent bowl of ramen that can be made from scratch in under an hour. This, to me, is as rare and exciting as a unicorn.

Not at all difficult, especially considering ramen usually takes days to make

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1.4 litres unseasoned chicken broth, (not from a stock cube!)
100g miso
2 bok choi, cut into quarters
150g bean sprouts
4 teaspoons sesame oil
4 portions ramen noodles, dried is good; instant is better; fresh is best
salt or soy sauce, to taste (optional)
50g parmesan cheese, grated, (optional, but it’s soooooo good)
4 Soy-marinated eggs, halved

For the spicy miso pork mince

Quantity Ingredient
1 leek, washed and trimmed
40g miso, use red or barley miso if you can get it
1 tomato
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 fresh red chilli
2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
2cm fresh ginger, finely sliced, (no need to peel)
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon szechuan pepper
1/4 teaspoon sansho, (optional)
2 anchovy fillets in oil, (optional)
250g pork mince, not lean please!
2 tablespoons oil
50g butter

Method

  1. Get a large pot of water on the boil and bring the chicken broth up to a simmer in another pan. Add the miso to the stock and whisk to dissolve.
  2. Next: the spicy miso pork mince. Cut the leek in half, and roughly chop the greener half. Finely shred the whiter half of the leek, and soak in very cold water until needed.
  3. Put the green half of the leek, the miso, tomato, onion, garlic, red chilli, chilli flakes, ginger, sesame seeds, pepper, Szechuan pepper or sansho and anchovies, if using, in a blender or food processor and blitz to a coarse paste. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate or mince everything by hand, or use a mortar and pestle.) Work this mixture into the pork mince to make a delicious pork paste. Now here is the important part: you need an EXTREMELY HOT pan or wok. So get your best, most reliable pan on a high heat a good 5–10 minutes before you intend to cook. Add the oil to the pan and then add the pork mixture, stirring frequently until it turns a rich brown in colour. (Don’t shake or lift the pan – keep it on the heat!) Once it’s all browned nicely and cooked through (should be about 10 minutes), remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Keep warm until needed.
  4. Blanch the bok choi in the boiling water for about a minute, just to tenderise slightly. It should still have some crunch. Remove with a slotted spoon or sieve, then blanch the bean sprouts for even less time: 20–30 seconds will do. Remove them as well, and dress with the sesame oil. Get your miso-chicken broth onto a rolling boil at this point.
  5. Cook your noodles as per the package instructions – generally 2–3 minutes for instant, 4–5 minutes for dried, and certainly no more than 1 minute for fresh (you can use the same water you used to blanch the veg for this). Drain well. Ladle 300–350 ml of broth into deep bowls, then add the noodles and stir them through to loosen them. Pour over half the spicy miso pork mixture and stir that through as well. Taste the broth and adjust seasoning with salt or soy sauce, if needed. Top with the remaining pork mince, Parmesan, if using, drained shredded leek and marinated eggs. Enjoy piping hot, and don’t forget to SLURP!
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