Inspired by the broth from the chicken paitan at Totto Ramen (pictured below), I wanted to make a ramen broth that had a bit more going on than in the simple miso recipe we all had at Az and Lizzie’s.
The idea is twofold: first, poaching the chicken with some aromatics and retaining the liquid will provide depth and complexity to the broth. Second, Totto Ramen’s paitan is thicker than a simple miso soup, so we’ll be incorporating a roux!
- Chicken, 1 thigh per person
- Aromatics: ginger, garlic, lemon grass – all crushed under knife
- Soy sauce, 2 tbsp
- Stock, 2 litres
- Shiitake dashi (or any dashi you have)
- Mirin, 2 tbsp
- Sesame oil, a splash
- Butter, 1 tbsp
- Flour, 1 cup/a handful
- Ramen noodles
- Egg, boiled and seasoned in soy sauce
- Vegetables, e.g., cabbage, broccoli, corn
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Optional: Miso paste, 2 or 3 tbsps
- Scatterings: spring onions, carrots, bean sprouts
I’m going to assume we already know how to prepare the noodles and the egg (just as in the simple miso ramen recipe). So as a starting point for this recipe we’ve got ramen bowls with cooked noodles in, topped with egg (for those that want it!)¹.
It’s a good idea to get all your prep done early on this one. So cut and crush those aromatics,
and get at the veggies,
Turn up a large frying pan as hot as you can with a generous splash of oil. Season chicken well with salt and add to pan. If you’re not met with a roar of approval, the pan is not hot enough. After a few minutes of spitting and hissing add soy sauce and mirin to the now scorched chicken and reduce the heat. Add the aromatics and the shiitakes, the ends of the spring onions, a splash of sesame oil, and the end of your carrot (if using), poking all the goey goodness around as you go. Then pour the stock and dashi in.
The chicken should be (mostly) covered by liquid. Once this reaches a simmer it’s a good time to blanch your vegetables. When they’ve reached their desired doneness take the veggies out and set them aside (you can start assembling your ramen bowl in pretty presentations if you’re into that kind of thing…).
Taste the broth and prod at the chicken. We’re looking for chicken so tender that it almost falls apart when poked, and a rich, complex broth that is met with involuntary audible approval as you sip it! You’re going to need enough broth here to fill everyones bowls, so if you’re short, now’s the time to add more water. Don’t rush this stage; put a lid on the pan, turn the heat right down and get a head start with some washing up (or go back to decorating your ramen bowls). When you’re happy set the chicken aside, remove and discard the aromatics, and turn off the heat. If you’re going for the optional miso, now’s the time.
Slice the chicken into strips. It’s cooked and delicious already, but we’re going to take it up one more notch. Sprinkle some crushed black pepper over the chicken and put it under a grill set to high. Keep a close eye and be brave. We want to see some crackling. Turn once after a few minutes. When it’s ready, remove and toss with a little Sriracha². Place the chicken into the ramen bowls.
Now for the probably-super-non-traditional technique to thicken the soup: we’re going to make a roux. That’s right, we’re applying a classic French technique to a Japanese dish, so this is technically fusion. Cool. Get your roux going in a clean saucepan. Your ball of roux should be smaller than a squash ball. We just want the soup to be slightly thicker, so don’t go crazy here. Less is more. Slowly add the broth (possibly through a sieve if you couldn’t remove all the aromatics), stirring all the time. You’re done when you’re done, so ladle this child-of-fusion lovingly into your ramen bowls and prepare for the ramen of your life. To serve throw down your spring onions and it’s always a good idea to have some Sriracha to hand.
- If you have a top sous-chef to hand this can probably be done in the background of the rest of the recipe.
- Again, this should be done concurrently with the next, and final step.