Soup Supper: Tori Ramen – chicken broth based ramen soup.
Light and packed with flavor. Growing in depth with every ladle. Tender noodles, crisp spring onion and the vibrance of fresh cilantro. Add to that succulent chicken meat, almost sweet kombu and the hint of ocean that nori brings, and you’re left with the perfect soup for any time of the season. Throw in a soft-boiled egg marinated in soy sauce, and heaven is only a spoonful away. Making a good broth for ramen is all about taking time. There is almost nothing for you to do, but wait – assemble and eat. The perfect dish for a relaxed day. To treat yourself or to impress others.
It has been a couple of weeks since I last posted. I’m slightly disgruntled with my lack of discipline. But sometimes life just gets in the way. And, personally, I think the wait was worth its while – given this incredibly yummy dish. I love a good ramen soup, and I’m still in the process of figuring out how to improve it. So, as always, this is a rough pointer rather than a strict guide. Knock yourself out – make this your own.
I understand that the thought of cooking something for 6 hours must at least seem daunting, if not full on crazy. But if you know that you’ll be at home – working – relaxing – or procrastinating – why not let a little pot of soup boil on the stove top while you do so? I also understand that the effort that goes into deboning a chicken is not to everybody’s liking, nor the fact that you’ll have to roast a chicken before starting on this dish. And I also understand that all that glorious chicken fat is not for you health-nuts. But understand this: if you have not eaten your home-made ramen, with a thick layer of most delicious fat, you haven’t lived properly. Making this dish is really a two-step process. If you’re planning on roasting some chicken on any given day – use the left-overs to make a most glorious stock the next day.
Roasting the chicken
- a whole deboned chicken, or 8 boneless chicken thighs
- Garlic (fresh)
The first step is to roast some glorious chicken. I used a whole chicken that I deboned, but you’ll be fine with just a couple of chicken legs. More than about the meat, this is about infusing the chicken fat (and lots and lots of it) with roasting aroma.
In a baking tray, at medium heat (about 180 °C) roast your deboned chicken, with skin and fat on. I used the fat of a full bird for a broth that fed about three people (in reality it fed me for two days). I suggest you to replace it with at least 8 fat thighs, bones out skin on. Season the chicken with salt, roast for 30 minutes, then mix a spoon of the rendered fat with some grated garlic, freshly ground pepper and baste the skin with it, to give it this extra oomph. Continue roasting for another 20 minutes (or as long as it takes for the meat to be succulent and the skin crips and brown. After the first 20 minutes, and again after 40 minutes, collect all the drippings in a bowl, do not dare to remove any of that fat. Snack your heart out on about half the chicken (or 4 of the thighs) and the crispy skin.
This makes for two greedy (or three regular eaters). Note that I don’t add any heat – if you’d like a couple of slices of chilli right in that last half hour certainly might spice things up.
- A chicken carcasse (plus whatever bones, wing-tips and other stock-worthy bits you’ve got left)
- Galgant (fresh)
- 3 cloves of Garlic (fresh)
- 3 shallots
- Kombu (japanese kelp, at least one 10 cm piece)
- Light soy sauce
- Light miso-paste
- Ramen noodles
- Put the bones and stock-bits into a large pot, add to it the garlic and shallots unpeeled. Slice a piece of galgant coarsely. Cover generously with water. And add tablespoon of salt.
- Allow to come to a boil and strain the foam that is forming.
- Cook for about 5 hours (on medium heat, but at a lively boil), replacing the liquid as you go along. The broth is ready when the knuckles are soft enough to be cut with a spoon (and you should, they’re delicious).
- Strain the broth through a sieve. If you’re feeling adventorous then press the knuckles through a fine sieve into the broth, which will add creaminess.
- Add a couple of table-spoons of soy sauce, and a tablespoon or two of miso. Add the kombu. And most importantly your bowl with chicken drippings. You want a thick film of fat covering the broth, seriously. Allow to boil for another 30-40 minutes, then adjust seasoning.
- Take out the kombu and slice it into fine match-sticks.
- Cook your preferred style ramen noodle right before serving.
Serving it up
How you serve your tori ramen is entirely up to you, I love it with sliced chicken thigh meat, spring onion, a halved soft boiled egg marinated in soy sauce, a dash of toasted sesame oil, the sliced combu, cilantro and a couple of slices of nori. But you just do you.