After booking a trip to Asia I thought that it would be a good idea to have a book on Asian cuisine waiting for me when I returned home. One of the top books was this one, Momofuku by New York chef David Chang. Chang has the unusual distinction of having gone from noodle bar owner to Michelin star winner across a franchise of three restaurants. They are based in New York, Momofuku noodle bar, Ssam bar and Ko.
One of the first recipes in the book is the ramen dish. Any preconceptions that this was going to be a quick bowl of soup were out of the window after reading through the broth recipe. Set aside at least 7 hours of your time to make this. The benefit of the broth however is that it’s used in many of the recipes in the book. Also it freezes well in batches in case you do fancy a quick bowl of ramen in the not so distant future.
I set to work heading to the chinese supermarket for a few key ingredients as I planned to make around three dishes from the book across a couple of days. Many of the ingredients for Chang’s dishes can be easily found in oriental supermarkets. The only exception on my trip being konbu seaweed so I substituted with some dried, sliced seaweed.
Beginning with the broth I began by adding seaweed into a huge pot of boiling water to infuse for 10 minutes. This is before fishing it out and adding dried shiitakes to add darkness and flavour to the stock. After that comes the meat with the carcass of a whole chicken along with the legs (I saved the wings and breasts for the fried chicken dish) and simmering that for an hour while my pork ribs roasted in the oven.
Bacon is added along with the pork bones to the pot after removing the chicken. By now the smell was intense and the colour was starting to appear clear. The broth simmers away for a further 5-6 hours. This is before adding vegetables and seasoning with soy sauce,sea salt and mirin to finish. I was proud of the colour and taste as I strained a crystal clear liquid through my sieve. It is definitely time well spent.
But what about all that perfectly good meat you wasted? The whole pack of bacon, kilo of pork and chicken legs! Well good news, they weren’t wasted. In fact they still tasted great so I shredded the meat up to use in the final dish. Along with a soft boiled egg, spring onions, instant noodles (Chang approves) and finally that wonderful broth the dish is complete. It’s time to sample…
It’s a comforting bowl of decent ramen. I’ve never had ramen before in a restaurant or otherwise. However I wouldn’t hesitate to reach for a bowl next time I’m dining in a Japanese place. The meaty flavour and salty/smoky hit from the broth is superb. It is well worth taking the time over getting it right. All the accompaniments worked perfectly and looked pleasing on the eye. A great introduction to Momofuku.