Monday, December 28, 2009

A Ramen A Day

Brittany dropped me off at Winco today before she went to work, actually she dropped me off at the free clinic which turned out to not be free, so I went shopping for ingredients instead. I spent about nine dollars on pork and six dollars on vegetables. With all the pork bones I bought, I decided a bigger batch of broth was in order, I brought out my biggest pot. The one I use to brew beer. This was taken about halfway through the boil, I could tell early on that this broth was going to be good. I decided to simmer my pork loin too, although I think its supposed to be completely covered.

A few hours later and we have a Ramen.

The avocados are an experiment, they weren't ripe but they still tasted delicious. Especially after they'd had a chance to soak. I think soft avocados will work well in my Ramen. A premium topping ;)

I like taking pictures of Ramen during the day when the sun is shining through. Artificial lights don't do Ramen justice. But this bowl was exceptionally good. At least the broth was anyway, I'm still using prepackaged noodles. I am torn between creating my own, or finding a local noodle maker who has the goods. And I still have to figure out how to cook that pork loin correctly. But the broth! So GOOD!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Secret Ingredients

Ramen Eaters of the World Unite!

I know I should have put that at the end of this post, but why wait? Anyway, I think it is time for an update. My last post was over a week ago.

The other night I was waiting for a train underneath the Burnside bridge when I noticed a sign for noodles. Could it be Ramen? No it was Pho, but I decided to try it anyway. I've never had Pho before but I heard it was a very popular food. It was the stores first day of business so I ordered the number 1, beef soup. It was ok, very fresh tasting. I can't say I'm an instant fan though. What was interesting was some of the garnishes they provided. Two kinds of cilantro I had never seen before and a slice of lime were my favorite. An older lady came over and asked if I worked at a restaurant, perhaps wondering If I was going to steal her secrets. Too late! I already did. I'm not sure if the Cilantro and the lime will work in my Ramen but we shall see.

Making Ramen is an all day affair, it can even stretch into two I think if you like to marinate things a lot. That is 10:49 PM. I should probably get started earlier next time.

That brown stuff on the left is my miso base, this is what it looked like before stirring.

I was using a recipe out of a book I previewed on Amazon, suckers!! The recipe called for hoisin sauce but I didn't have any so I just poured in the pork drippings from the pork roast I cooked. I think next time I will try simmering the pork.

I wasn't all that hungry that night but I did finish my bowl. All I could think about the next day was getting home to try another bowl. I did make and finish another bowl but I think I overdid it with the lime. But this morning, I hadn't planned on making a bowl. Something just came over me, why not I said, it will only take a few minutes. I took out my pots and turned on the heat, a few minutes later I had the first bowl I would definitely have paid for.


There is still a lot of work to be done, but I feel like I am getting closer with every bowl. One day it will be ready.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Its all about the broth

Yesterday I picked up some neck bones from Safeway. I hadn't planned to buy them, Safeway normally does not carry bones. At least that's what I was told by the meat department manager whose name escapes me at the moment. But there they were.

3 pounds of pork neck bones

I tried cutting these into smaller pieces but I just don't have the knife for it. So I have added a large knife to the list of things I need to obtain. The list is growing and I expect it to get longer the closer I get to opening my Ramen shop. I still haven't decided about working out of a cart or setting up shop in the vacant lot nearby behind the Asian market. I plan to do a few sample nights in my apartment, that's going to be fun. But before I can do that I need to obtain a huge stockpot, propane burner etc.. not to mention keep working on my recipe.

But back to the bones. I boiled them today and was a bit disappointed in the flavor I obtained. The broth I made with a few ham hocks from Winco was much tastier. Those had some added salt and smoke flavoring. I didn't need to add any salt to the ham hocks broth, but I did need to add some to the neckbones. I could tell there was something wrong after a few hours when I wasn't tasting any good flavors. I turned up the heat a little in the hopes of releasing some flavor and let the broth finish.

The fried egg is a recent addition as well as the intact slice of red cabbage. I enjoy the crunch that the cabbage gives to my Ramen. The egg is from a local farmer, we got 2 dozen of them and they are the best eggs we have ever eaten. Its frightening to think what is happening to the chickens at those industrial farms to make them produce the garbage they sell in the supermarkets. Its simply cracked open onto a hot skillet for 3 minutes and then flipped into the Ramen. I like how it looks and tastes, but I am wondering if the egg needs something more to it. Or should I keep things as simple as I can? You might note the absence of sliced pork, don't worry it will be back.

This Ramen was ok, I won't be using those neckbones again though. A few recipes online mention using pork and chicken bones for the broth, but I think I am going to try using ham hocks again. I still need to work on my noodles. I haven't worked with any flour for over a week. It appears that in order to get noodles to the right consistency you have to add a few chemicals to the mix. Namely potassium carbonate and maybe some sodium carbonate. These carbonates were most likely present in the well water the chinese used to first make their noodles all those thousands of years ago. So once I obtain some chemicals I will start working with my dough again. Interestingly though, the noodles I bought at Winco did not list carbonates as an ingredient. They did have eggs though, which I have tried using as well. I think it's going to take a bit of time before my noodles taste how I want them to.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Ramen Quest

Hi, Yesterday I took a short walk to Uwajiyama because they sell a bowl of Ramen, here is a map of my route and some pictures.

View My Walk in a larger map

I have more pictures on my Facebook site, One day my walks will be uploaded to Facebook in realtime complete with audiovisual narration but for now we do what we can. The last placemark is a picture of the Ramen, made with a prepackaged instant Ramen from the market's shelf. To be fair it was one of those three dollar packages and the Pork was cooked that day (I think). But I still wept a little on the inside as I watched my Ramen being prepared.

The market had an actual restaurant attached, which was closed at the time. But perhaps I should make another trip.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Nom Nom Nom

Yesterday was a good day. I made a decent bowl, which was quickly consumed by me!

I have always been a fan of forks, but after hearing Brittany scrape the bottom of my bowl, I think I will give chopsticks another try. I must say this Ramen tasted better than the bowl I had at Yuzu down the street. They charged 8.50 for their bowl, I was thinking a flat fee of 5 dollars would be fine, but I am getting ahead of myself, as I often do. Those noodles are prepackaged from Winco, they tasted pretty good, but I still need to work on my own.

As this broth was simmering, I would stare at it, trying to understand what the broth was doing. I really liked how the leeks encompassed the pot, surrounding the other vegetables with strong flavors. I am glad I finally added them.

I bought some miso paste that's fermented locally. It was a few extra dollars but I think it is worth it. I did add some of this paste to my latest bowl and am currently trying to think of a way to easily dissolve the paste in the broth. I was trying to avoid a vigorous stirring since that would emulsify the fats and proteins in the broth, but as you can see in the first picture, my broth is quite cloudy. I used a few pounds of ham hocks as my base, even with an extremely quiet boil my broth is quite cloudy. The ham hocks have quite a bit of fat on them, perhaps it is time for me to visit a local butcher to pick up some less meatier bones. In the Ramen films there is often a reference to an entire head of a pig. I wonder if they simply throw the head in the broth or cut it up first. I would most definitely need a larger pot before I even consider this addition however. In the end I might just go with a nice thick cloudy broth.