Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Community News Network

February 10, 2014

You're doing it wrong: how to make better ramen

NEW YORK — This is not a column about cooking instant ramen. You obviously know how to cook instant ramen. The instructions are right there on the package. The finer points of instant ramen preparation may be up for debate, but the noodle cakes and flavor packets bequeathed to the world by Momofuku Ando are un-mess-up-able.

This is also not a column about trying to make "authentic" ramen, whatever that might mean for a dish with origins as complicated and multifarious as ramen has. No, this is a column about trying to replicate fancy ramen, for lack of a better term, at home. In the U.S., the last decade has seen a proliferation of restaurants that sell bowls of ramen for $12 to $15 a pop. What's crazy is that those bowls of ramen often make you feel that you got your money's worth.

And the good news is that you can make a pretty good imitation of fancy ramen at home, in case your budget cannot withstand visits to fancy ramen joints, or you don't live within driving distance of a fancy ramen joint, or there's always a two-hour wait at the fancy ramen joint in your neighborhood. And as long as authenticity isn't your top priority, you don't have to sacrifice an entire day to make said ramen.

The main thing to keep in mind when making non-instant ramen is that everything needs to be cooked separately and combined only at the very last minute. The noodles need to be boiled by themselves in salted water and then drained. (Fresh ramen noodles are great, if you can find them; otherwise, any long wheat noodle will do.) The vegetables (and meat, if you are a meat-eater) need to be thoroughly cooked on their own. The broth needs to be heated in its own pot immediately before serving. If you like eggs on your ramen, poach them (or boil them) in their own saucepan. What I mean to say is: Plan on using lots of pots and pans while making ramen. You will go through as many pieces of equipment as live-loop musician Elijah Aaron goes through while recording a song.

My neighborhood ramen restaurant, the one with continual two-hour waits, makes a killer vegetarian ramen with cabbage, butternut squash (which adds a pleasant touch of sweetness), and an insanely delicious miso broth. A minimalist miso broth - just miso and hot water - is nutty and nuanced but kind of thin tasting. A traditional miso broth, based on the fish- and seaweed-infused liquid known as dashi, is time-consuming and requires ingredients not easily obtained in your average American grocery store. But you can make a decent, savory, not-too-salty miso broth by combining hot vegetable or chicken stock with boiling water and miso paste right before you assemble your miscellaneous ramen components.

 I'm not kidding about the "boiling" part. You have some leeway on the temperature of your vegetables and meat - it's not a big deal if they're lukewarm by the time you're putting everything together - but your broth must be piping hot when you serve the ramen, or else the whole exercise is for naught. And the noodles will soften slightly while they're sitting in the hot broth, so err on the side of undercooking them. Ramen noodles should be al dente or even firmer - if you're going to cook them till they're mushy, you may as well eat the instant kind instead.

               

               Miso Ramen With Roasted Squash and Cabbage

               Yield: 4 servings

               Time: About 1 hour, partially unattended

               1 small butternut squash (1 1/2  to 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch chunks

               1 tablespoon sesame oil

               Salt and black pepper

               1/4  large Savoy cabbage head (about 6 ounces), cut into 1-inch pieces

               10 ounces ramen noodles

               2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

               1/4  cup white miso

               4 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the squash with the sesame oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast the squash for 10 minutes. Add the cabbage to the baking sheet, stir, and continue to roast, stirring occasionally, until both the squash and the cabbage are tender and lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add the ramen and cook until al dente, usually 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the package instructions; drain thoroughly.

3. Combine the stock and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan over high heat. When it comes to a boil, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the miso until it dissolves. Divide the ramen, squash and cabbage, and scallions among four serving bowls. Pour 1 cup of the miso broth into each bowl, and serve immediately.



 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 21, 2014

  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    The paper looked at how many delicious steamed sliders the minimum wage has been able to purchase over time. The point is that as it notes, in 1981, the $3.35 minimum could buy a whole dozen. Today, at $7.25, it could purchase just 10.

    April 21, 2014

  • VIDEO: Moose charges snowmobile, flees after warning shot

    While snowmobiling in New England, Bob and Janis Powell of Maine were charged by a moose and caught the entire attack on camera.

    April 21, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 21, 2014

  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • quake.jpg Pennsylvania won’t take action following Ohio ruling on quakes, fracking

    Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: Boston bomb scare defendant appears in court

    The man accused of carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker near the Boston Marathon finish line on the anniversary of the bombings was arraigned Wednesday. He's being held on $100,000 bail.

    April 17, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

Obituaries
Featured Ads
Poll

The Iowegian wants readers to think about rental permit fees. The Centerville City Council has conducted two working sessions and a third one is planned in order to get a feel for the public's appetite about raising rental permit fees from charging a landlord $25 every two years to charging a certain amount per rental unit per year. So, the question of the week is, "Are you in favor of Centerville increasing rental permit fees?"

A. I'm in favor.
B. I'm not in favor.
C. I'm not sure.
     View Results
Iowegian on Facebook