Several years ago, I was talking with one of my friends (yes, I have more than one…usually) about food, and they were telling me about how ramen noodles had become a big thing. Here’s a brief recollection of how that went:
THEM: You really need to try this new place, they do some amazing ramen noodle bowls.
ME: Wait, ramen noodles? That’s like 20 cents a packet, why would I pay good money to get that? I haven’t eaten that since high school, one time I cut up a hot dog and put it in the bowl, I thought I was some serious hot shit.
THEM: No, it’s nothing like tha…
ME: HOT DOG RAMEN IS THE BEST!!!
Fast forward about a year. I was in Honolulu on the tail end of a long vacation. I was exhausted from multiple days of hiking and sightseeing. I was suffering from a mild staph infection, for which I had to convince the doctor to prescribe me anti-biotics for, and then had to wait in line at the pharmacy behind a woman that was reading the riot act to the pharmacist because they didn’t have her prescription ready and they made her late to work which seemed odd since she was wearing a bikini top and short shorts.
So I had very little energy to do much of anything, but I seriously needed some food. And I’d heard a lot about this ramen place down the street, so I figured I should go see what they were doing that was so much better than my elegant hot dog ramen.
When I got to the restaurant, I saw this sign outside of it:
I suppose some of those are hot dog ramen in some sense, but that is NOT what I bargained for. But, I was tired and didn’t feel like finding a new restaurant, so I went forward to try the non-porn ramen.
I ordered whatever bowl of noodles and broth, and got some fried things along with it.
Obviously they have different ramen packets over there. But the noodles were thick and chewy, and the broth was super-meaty and perfectly seasoned. Again, different packets.
Once I got home, I decided that I had to try and make it myself. But, every recipe for the broth required you to boil bones for 12 hours or throw some crazy ingredients in like East Asian Yak Tail. And I couldn’t find dry Asian noodles that were close to what I had in Hawaii, and there is no way I was going to make them from scratch (I will never understand home cooks that make their own pasta. Yeah, it’s going to be better than the dry stuff, but the joy/pain ratio of making you own over the dry is extremely low. It’s like building your own watch instead of buying one from a store…if anyone still wears watches…)
As I increased my ramen knowledge, I found that you can actually have thin noodle good ramen, which was helpful. And, after seeing a recipe on Tasty, I found that you can use the instant ramen noodles in good recipes – you just have to throw away the packet. Which, sometimes is very good to use, but it’s just a MSG bomb, and we can do better than that.
I’m not going to lie, though. This is not a quick and easy recipe. It won’t take as long as making your own broth, but there are a lot of elements to it, and you’re going to have to use some good time managements skills. But, you will be rewarded with a restaurant quality ramen bowl in a fraction of the time they take to cook theirs.
This is a basic template, you can add and subtract however you’d like. Don’t like corn? Throw some bamboo shoots in! Have some extra mushrooms around? Slice ’em up and toss them in at the end! Want to go the extra mile and marinate your eggs? Do it!
Miso Chicken Ramen
Makes 2 bowls
1 T butter
1 c corn kernels, fresh or frozen and thawed
2 c baby spinach
4 c chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 3 inch piece of ginger, sliced into small coins
3 scallions, chopped
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T miso paste
2 blocks of instant ramen noodles, packets discarded
Additional scallions for garnish
Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.
In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, add the chicken broth, garlic, ginger, and scallions. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Add the chicken breasts, return the broth to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside.
While the broth is coming to a simmer and cooking, in a large skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add corn and saute until warmed through and just starting to brown. Move to a bowl and set aside.
In a large saucepan, bring just enough water to cover two eggs to a boil. Heat to high. Once boiling, add eggs to the pot. Boil for six minutes, then remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and carefully place in the ice bath.
Add spinach to boiling water and blanch until the spinach is just wilted. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.
Strain the broth of all solids, and return to the stockpot. Stir in the miso paste, and simmer for a few minutes.
Shred the reserved chicken with two forks.
In a medium saucepan, cook the noodles according to the packet directions. Drain the noodles and set aside.
Once the eggs are cool to the touch, remove the shells from the eggs.
To serve, add half the noodles to each bowl. Ladle the broth over the noodles, and garnish with the spinach, corn, reserved scallions, and chicken. Cut the eggs in half, and place on top of soup.