Experiments, Ramen, Recipes

Ramen Stock Experiment 003

November 9, 2014

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Over the years, I’ve tried, in actuality, two ramen recipes. One I found on the internet about a decade ago, and the other is my current Easy Ginger Broth recipe, which is actually modified from the original recipe. I like my easy ginger broth, but it is by no means the best ramen in the world. The previous recipe included a step to make your own dashi before adding it to store bought chicken broth, then adding two tablespoons of shoyu at the end. It was okay, but not great. I simplified it by using Hon Dashi rather than making your own dashi, mostly to save time – real ramen takes days to make. However, I decided that I need to take my ramen making to the next level, so I decided to go back to the “from scratch” recipes, this time doing something I’ve never done before: made my own stock. Here’s what I did.

img_1482First, I put 4 pieces of 6 inch kombu into 4 quarts of water. I let them soak overnight – 8 hours. The water had a slightly greenish tint the next day, indicating that the flavor had been extracted.
img_1483After making the kombu dashi, I mixed up shoyu, mirin, and sake in a container, then set it in the fridge to chill overnight.

The next day, I wrapped up and seasoned a hunk of pork loin. Like usual, I seared the entire piece of meat first, intending to braise it in the stock.

img_1486I threw 4 lbs of chicken backs and necks and 1 lb of pork bones into the pot along with the loin. Then, I added ginger, garlic, and bonito flakes. I brought the entire pot to a boil, then let it simmer for 3 hours.
img_1487After 2 hours 45 minutes, I noticed the stock hadn’t reduced as much as I wanted. I had been simmering it covered, which doesn’t seem to work as well for chicken stock. So, I removed the cover and simmered on a higher flame for another hour.
img_1489I poured the stock through my fine mesh sieve into a container – success! Exactly two quarts. I set aside my loin, wrapped it up, and put them both in the fridge to sit overnight.
img_1494The next day, I pulled out both mixtures. The stock had gelled and the fat all rose to the surface. I skimmed off the fat, then re-fired the stock, warming it for dinner. I sliced up the pork, set in the noodles, then added the tare to the stock. All of it.

That was a mistake. The tare was a bit too strong for the absolutely delicious stock – I used a deep, dark, heavy brew shoyu and it overwhelmed the stock. Next time, I’ll go with the traditional method of adding tare first and stock to taste in order to get my ratios right.

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Overall, I’d call the experiment a success. There are a lot of things I’d do differently, but for a first go in awhile from scratch, I think it went well. My family enjoyed it, and I could taste the beginnings of a truly amazing shoyu ramen, but for now, we’ll call this one a partial success: the tare was too heavy, but the stock was spot on.

Notes for Next Time

  • Add bonito to dashi rather than stock – the flakes clumped up with the scum too easily, losing a lot of the flavor.
  • Check tare recipe and ratio. Too heavy.
  • Try more flavor profiles – add shiitake mushrooms, scallions, bacon, etc. Experiment with actual stock.

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