When I lived in Paris, a group of us discovered the most amazing ramen restaurant. It was tiny, cramped, and pretty basic looking, but the ramen was incredible. Everything was made fresh, and an enormous bowl of food cost us less than €10 each (which can be hard to find in Paris).
I’ve never managed to find anywhere quite as good since this (although I am, of course, open to suggestions!), but I do miss having ramen. Making proper ramen at home is an endeavour, and one I’ve never been brave enough to take on. It involves making a properly good stock with meat bones, as well as a host of other ingredients that I don’t normally have. However, this is my recipe for an easy version at home, and one that will hopefully satisfy your craving until you are able to visit your own favourite ramen spot.
When it comes to ingredients, the more you can add to top your ramen the better (in my opinion). However, it can be difficult to get some of these extra ingredients when shopping only in the supermarket. On the ingredients list, I have included the essentials, as well as some extras at the bottom. These aren’t essential, but will make a big difference to the flavour if you can get hold of them.
If you are vegetarian, you can simply replace the pork with tofu. Just make sure you leave this to that last minute to cook, as it won’t need cooking in the same way as the pork. You can fry the pak choi first, then add the tofu last minute.
Want to read a bit more about Ramen? Scroll past the recipe to find out more…
Easy Ramen Bowl
This recipe takes approximately 40 minutes, and serves two people generously.
You will need:
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- Thumb-sized piece of ginger
- One red chilli
- Pinch of salt
- 250g pork mince
- Two pak choi
- Two tbsp sriracha sauce (plus extra for topping)
- Two eggs
- 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
- 50ml soy sauce, plus 2-3tbsp for the eggs
- Pack of ‘straight to wok noodles’ – I use these
- Handful of fresh coriander
- Two spring onions
- 1 tbsp shaoxing rice wine (not traditional as this is Chinese, but adds a nice flavour to the pork)
- Sprinkle of seaweed flakes
- 2 tbsp Crispy chilli (this is one of my all-time favourite things – you can top practically any dish with this to make it more exciting. There are a number of different type, but my favourite is Crispy Anchovy Chilli).
Begin by preparing your ingredients. Peel and grate the ginger, finely chop half the chilli, slice the other half (to use as a topping), and cut the bottoms off the pak choi and slice in half lengthways.
In a large frying pan, heat the vegetable oil, then add the ginger and chilli and fry for two minutes. Add the pork and fry until just browned, then add the 2 tbsp sriracha sauce until coated. If you have them, add the 1 tbsp shaoxing rice wine, and 1 tbsp crispy chilli too. As the pork browns, add the pak choi and pinch of salt to the pan and fry with the pork. Leave this on the hob as the pak choi softens and the pork mince crisps up, moving around with a spatula every now and then to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Meanwhile, prepare your eggs. Boil a saucepan of water and add your eggs. If you have a colour-changing egg timer, add this. Keep them on a low simmer for 7 minutes for a soft, jammy yolk. Drain the eggs and cover with cold water. When cool enough, peel and place in a bowl with 2 tbsp soy sauce. Make sure the eggs are well-coated, and put to one side.
Prepare your broth. Add the 500ml stock and 50ml soy sauce to a saucepan. It should taste salty and tangy, but not too over-powering. If it needs diluting, add a little hot water. Bring to a simmer, and add the noodles. If using the straight-to-wok noodles, these will only take two minutes.
Remove from the heat, and spoon the noodles and the broth into bowls. Spoon the pork and pak choi over the top. Slice the eggs in half lengthways, and place on the top. Sprinkle the spring onions, coriander, and chilli, as well as the seaweed flakes and a spoonful of crispy chilli if using.
So, what actually is Ramen?
Ramen is a noodle soup from Japan that became popular with workers during the 1800s. There is now a huge variety, but generally speaking a ramen includes:
– A stock (generally prepared over a few hours)
– Some form of meat topping (such as pork belly)
– Spring onions
– And many other toppings!
There are three main types of ramen, known as ‘tare‘: salt, soy sauce, and miso. Generally, a ramen will have one of these flavours at its base. This recipe is for a soy sauce tare, topped with pork mince (not traditional, but more accessible for most people cooking at home). On top is the ramen egg. In this version, it has a soft, jammy yolk and is served cool (known as ajitama), however you can serve a hot egg on top, known as nitamago.
One of the other key elements of a ramen are the noodles. There are noodles made specifically for ramen, and a number of different types. However, these are harder to source in UK supermarkets (although you can buy these in Asian Supermarkets). Essentially, ramen noodles are distinctive due to the slightly chewy texture, so I opt for ‘straight to wok’ noodles when buying from a supermarket.
When it comes to ramen, the variety is endless, and is an exciting way to experiment with flavours if you love Japanese food. Sous Chef has a great page with loads of suggestions of toppings and additions, as well as a bit more in-depth information on the different kinds of tare, so you can get experimenting!