Chicken Ramen Day, and boy are my wings tired…

I salute anyone who attempts to make ramen at home from scratch. I used the Serious Eats Chicken Ramen recipe and it turned out great!

I originally wasn’t gonna post this, so I didn’t take uber-detailed photos of the process, but I feel like I must exorcize this ramen demon before it consumes me! I can see why people can get obsessed with the seemingly simple ramen. The variations and permutations are limitness! And the rewards are delicious!

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Starting off with the broth. Water plus 4 lbs of chicken wings and 1 lb of chicken feet.

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My first time using kombu (kelp). The recipe doesn’t say this, but it’s usually recommended to wipe away a bit of the white crystals with a damp cloth or paper towel before adding it to the broth.

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Bringing the stock to a boil. Boil?? To boil or not to boil…

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Tampopo (1985).

Whenever I make stock, I always think back to this scene in Tampopo where they let the ramen broth boil and it’s a big disaster. Contrast this with tonkotsu broth where you’re supposed to boil the shit out of pork bones so it gets all milky, cloudy and creamy.

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One tweak I did do was add niboshi (dried baby sardines) for extra dimension and depth.

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I think these were genuine Japanese niboshi.

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Eight hours of simmering later. Ready to be strained.

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The strained broth. Liquid gold!

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Tampopo (1985).

Thank god there weren’t any distasters. I didn’t want to have to reschedule or call for pizza an hour before guests arrive.

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The Serious Eats recipe includes simple steps for making your own crispy fried shallots.

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Shallots frying away in the oil. You gotta watch it carefully, especially towards the end cuz it’ll turn dark fast!

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The finished crispy shallots draining on paper towel. Pretty easy, and I’d do this again instead of buying the overly greasy ones from the store.

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Ever since having black garlic oil at Jinya, I’ve been craving it. So I thought why not make some oil myself? I used another Serious Eats recipe, Mayu (Black Garlic Oil) for Ramen. I took the leftover oil from making crispy shallots, and used it to do the black garlic oil. Extra allium essence!

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The finished black garlic oil. This will stay in the fridge, to be whipped out whenever I need a smoky, garlicky hit.

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Another ramen element I was pinning for: sous vide chicken breast. The first (and only) time I tried sous vide chicken breast was at Gyoza Bar + Ramen in their Kaisen Tomato ramen. Now, with the Anova circulator, I can do it at home! 140°F for 2 hours. See this Serious Eats post for general instructions and this post for general info about sous viding chicken.

I didn’t take a shot of the chicken after it finished cooking, cuz sous vided meats look kinda unappetizing and pale 😛

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One possible ramen noodle that I found at T&T. Note that REAL ramen noodles don’t contain any egg, even though they usually have an eggy colour to them. It’s the alkaline (kansui) element in the dough that causes the colour. Also note that they’ve faked this a bit more by using FD&C Yellow #5 🙁

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This is the ramen noodle that we ultimately went with for dinner: Sun Noodle Brand fresh ramen, found in the freezer section of T&T. Unfortunately, I could only find these noodles packed with soup base. So I bit the bullet and bought them, just so I could get the noodles. I saved the soup base packet for some other time… I wish I could find a bulk source for these noodles.

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The noodles come frozen, so I just defrosted it in the microwave until they were flexible, then cooked them according to the instructions. We boiled them anywhere from 1:20 to 1:45, and we definitely preferred them cooked less. Plus or minus 15 seconds really seemed to matter in the case of these noodles.

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Partial toppings station. Korean sea salt, chilled blanched spinach, leftover soy-marinated eggs (done to Wicca’s hardboiled preference…ugh), green onions, sous vide eggs (160°F for 60 minutes, according to yet another Serious Eats article), crispy shallots, Korean roasted sesame seeds, and black garlic oil. Not pictured: organic white miso paste mixed with a bit of hot water, shichimi togarashi (Japanese chili pepper mix), and sliced sous vide chicken breast.

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Time to serve up some bowls of ramen! I was a bit picky about the process, but you have to be when it’s something as time-sensitive as ramen noodles. Step 1: Put your tare (seasonings) into your bowl. We had the choice of shio (salt, or in this case Korean sea salt, the same kind you’d put in Korean bone soup) or white miso. Everyone did miso with a bit of salt (above). I just stuck to salt cuz I wanted to taste the pure chicken broth and see if I needed to adjust the recipe next time. Step 2: Boil your ramen noodles. While this is happening, ladle the broth into your bowl and get the tare all mixed up. Step 3: Take out the noodles, shake off excess water, then put them into your soup. I tried to do that move where ramen chefs lay the noodles so that the strands are all going in one direction 😛  Step 4: Quickly pile on your toppings. Step 5: Get your (my) fuckin’ photos out of the way quick before your soup gets cold and your noodles get mushy! Step 6: Eat, drink, be happy!

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I let people dress their own bowl. This was Wicca’s bowl. NO green onions. You could probably psychoanalyze each person’s arrangement 😉

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Fatone’s bowl. Copius black garlic oil. He entered a food coma after finishing this bowl then passed out on our couch. Mission accomplished.

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My bowl. Paired with Brassneck Short Term Memory Farmhouse Ale with “Twang”. Saisony, slight tartness and citrus quality was very refreshing and a great match for the chicken ramen.

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The noodles weren’t bad! I’d buy them again. Enough texture and bite to them. Stood up reasonably well sitting in the soup. The crispy shallots turned soft, sticky and caramelly in the soup, which I really liked. Plus I went back for even more black garlic oil cuz it tasted so good with everything. I think I’m getting addicted to the smoky garlicy-ness. The sous vide chicken was a pretty close approximation to the sous vide chicken breast from Gyoza Bar + Ramen.

I was expecting a lighter bowl but it actually turned out pretty full-tasting, rich and satisfying. I was uncomfortably full afterwards. But…there’s always room for ice cream:

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A little extra reward of Mario’s Gelati Green Tea ice cream and White Chocolate Raspberry ice cream. The green tea ice cream is the standard/benchmark green tea ice cream in town. The white chocolate raspberry ice cream was too sweet for me. I like the slightly drier, astringent quality of the green tea.

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Leftover chicken broth after sitting in the fridge overnight. Lots of gelatin and collagen in this broth! You can imagine the mouthfeel. That Serious Eats recipe is pretty good!

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Tampopo (1985).

I was happy that Chicken Ramen Day turned out well. Next time, I’d probably spread the tasks out more, like make the broth the day before, so I can just focus on toppings on the day of.

If you ever try this yourself, Instagram me a pic and let me know how it goes!

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