A Bowl of Noodles
Although many ramen snobs of late love to talk of the noodles, the key to me, for a great bowl of ramen comes down to the broth and the tare. One of the problems with using smoked meats for broth is that they actually produce an overly smokey, and consequently, simple tasting stock. Things need to be added. I built the broth with the use of blackened scallions, ginger, garlic, three bones of the smoked ribs, and a few flavor enhancers.
I started with 3 bones from the leftover rack of ribs, these were boiled at a full boil for 15 minutes, water being added as needed to keep the pan filled. As could be predicted, the resultant liquid was smoky and porky, two high notes then nothing. I had blackened some scallions, the white parts only, to add a bit of depth and color. The entire bunch was blackened then coarsely chopped and added to the broth.
Need more burn!
I decided to go a little more fragrant, so added 2 cloves of garlic, cracked, and about a teaspoon sized chunk of ginger, smashed, as well as 3 shiitake mushrooms. This was all reduced to simmer for 15 minutes, then an additional layer of flavor, in the form of shoyu and fish sauce, about 2 tablespoons of each. This last addition was both about salt and umami. That being done, I added 1 cup of the broth to a small pan, added in four shiitake, 1 teaspoon of Agave syrup, 2 more tablespoons of shoyu and a teaspoon of Tonkatsu sauce. This was both to cook the mushrooms and make the tare, a flavorful syrup, which adds punch to the broth. I reduced the tare by 2/3, once the mushrooms were cooked and removed. At that point, I added some toasted sesame oil, just a little.
The Broth, about halfway there
The Tare, ready to go
From there, it was time for the other elements...
Shiitake mushrooms braised in tare
Wilted bean sprouts
Kale, braised in broth
The mushrooms were slice, the bean sprouts wilted just enough to reduce the beany quality they can have, although these were quite fresh. The kale was a last minute substitute. I had wanted Mitsuba, but none could be found, so I wanted Mizuna, which I found, but, when I opened up the bag, it was bad, so on to the kale, which was leftover from last week, and which apparently does not go bad very fast at all. Things were assmebled in the bowl, along with a few shreds of the ribs.
Ready to be drowned
From here, just pour the broth on, add the tare and I opted to add some rayu (spicy sesame oil) and Yuzu-Pao, sort of a Sriracha with Ponzu added condiment. I add the tare both before and after the broth, the get more flavor into the mix.
The Broth shot-payoff time
Hopefully, you can see that the tare is still coating some of the toppings, and you can see the broth has a nice color. The overall effect was of a rich, lightly spicy and complex broth, supported by vegetables and noodles. I have not talked much about the noodles, although I love hand made noodles, I truly believe that chuka soba barely cooked, or fresh chow mein noodles from the store do just fine in supporting the broth and tare. And as for the kale, it worked great in ramen, who knew?