I have both good and bad memories of ramen. I think everyone does. Everyone remembers having Top Ramen either in childhood or in college, and I hope everyone remembers that first bowl of really great ramen they ever had. I hope everyone has had the chance to try really great ramen and doesn't think Top Ramen or Cup of Noodles is the standard. If you've never tried great ramen before, you need to seek it out.
I grew up having Saporro Ichiban as a snack at my grandmother's house (a brand of instant ramen... a few steps above top ramen). She would always doctor it up by adding an egg and green onions and leftover vegetables from the night before (often cabbage). It's the afternoon snack that most reminds me of childhood.
A few years later, I had really superb ramen. It was more of a Tokyo/Chinese style and that is the flavor I like best. It's lighter than the popular Hakata style, which is the opaque, heavy pork based broth that is so popular now. It was so simple and so delicious and perfectly springy noodles.
The recipe for the pork and the noodles comes from the Momofuku cookbook and the broth was kind of ad-libbed.
For the pork belly:
- 3 lb piece of pork belly, skin off
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- Pork neck, leg or shoulder plate bones
- 1 chicken carcass
- 1 piece of kombu
- 10 or so dried shitake mushrooms
- 1 big handful of bonito flakes
- 2 onions
- 1 6 inch piece of ginger
- 6 cloves garlic (ish)
- 1 or 2 carrots, depending on the size
- leek tops (if you have them. if not, not big deal)
- soy sauce
- kosher salt
When broth is done, season to taste with soy, mirin, sake and salt. The ratio should be about 1:1:2 mirin:sake:soy. Add to the broth and adjust as necessary.
For the noodles:
- 800 grams bread flour
- 300 grams room temperature water
- 2 tsp baked baking soda (about 20 minutes or so)
- Pork belly
- Wood ear mushrooms
- Wakame seaweed
- soft boiled or poached egg
- green or napa cabbage
- whatever else you want.