Happy Anniversary to me! It's my two year food-blog anniversary, and my one year Crunchyroll anniversary. I'm not normally one for celebrating, but I have a commentor who has been dying for me to do a video tutorial of my Naruto ramen recipe, and since that recipe was the very first thing I ever covered, I thought it would be fun to go back and take a look at the iconic dish and evaluate my recipe to see what I would change, knowing what I know now, compared to what I knew then.
Some basics- Ramen is delicious. Surely you know this. I have never made ramen before that truly reminded me of what I could get in Japan. With my new recipe, written out below, I think I have achieved something similar to what I can get in Japan. I was really, really happy with the majority of the changes I made, and really recommend you try making this at home so that you can have a great ramen experience. Naruto's ramen is a good place to start, because it is good, but a pretty typical bowl of ramen. Naruto's favorite ramen is miso based with extra chasu, or pork. Ramen broth comes served in one of three ways- miso, salt, or soy sauce based. You may also see soup classed as tonkotsu, which refers to the pork stock base most commonly used in ramen. It's a bit confusing, because miso, salt, and soy sauce soups are all just variations of pork broth. So, most ramen soup (but not all) is pork broth seasoned with one of those three things. I'm sure there are people who see ramen as falling into one of those four distinct categories, but we're going to focus on the miso based soup today.
Which brings me to the first mistake I made as a youthful food blogger. The broth. I made my own stock, sure, but I used chicken bones as the base for the flavor instead of pork. This was because I 1) didn't know where to get pork bones and 2) Wanted to use some of the chicken stock for my second recipe (Transforming Furikake Gohan from Food Wars!), but I think this was a mistake. Chicken broth can absolutely be used as a base for a ramen, but it's not the most common base you see in Japan, and I really doubt Naruto was going around eating abnormal ramen. It would be much more expected to see him eating a soup with a pork base, rather than a chicken base so the first thing I changed about this recipe were the bones I used, and the additional flavorings for the broth. Because I made a chicken broth the first time, I used some more traditional seasonings- cabbage, leeks, etc. I wanted to pare this down and make the base a litte more one-note to really let the pork flavor shine through, so I simply seasoned the base with ginger. I also added in more miso, and, for good measure and better flavor payoff, used awase miso, which is a mix of brown and white miso. This deepens the flavor and the color, and produces a better, hearty result in the overall broth.
The second mistake I made with my first attempt at this recipe was making an egg that was far too hardboiled. A good ramen egg has a yolk that is soft, jammy, and a litlte liquidy in the middle. I am not a pro at making eggs by any means, so when I first attempted this, I failed miserably. However, this was an easy mistake to rectify. I changed the cooking time and method slightly to produce the best results, and was so happy with how it turned out- if there's one kind of egg I like, it is the ramen egg. I was in heaven.
I thought I could improve upon my chasu pork recipe, but I actually was not super enthused with how this version turned out. I thought it would be good to simplify flavors and reduce liquid quantities so that there wouldn't be as much waste, but I liked the version I made two years ago and regret not making it again. I have listed the recipe I used this time around below, but I really feel it didn't do a good enough job of seasoning the pork, and there wasn't quite enough liquid to really get a good braise going. If you do this, I recommend you use my first recipe, unless you don't really care. In that case, the one below is definitely a bit simpler!
The third and final mistake I made with my original recipe was not getting the iconic swirly naruto fishcake. It seriously ups this dish from a 5/10 on the overall quality/beauty/eatability scale to a 10/10, A++, would eat again. It's such a classic look, not finding the right fishcake just doesn't clearly make it Naruto's ramen. If you really want to convince yourself you're eating what Naruto would eat, go for the traditional naruto, even if that means searching through four Asian supermarkets.
In any case, here's to another year of anime cooking! Revisiting this recipe was really fun- I know so much more about Japanese cooking now, and I'm a lot more confident with it, so it feels good to go back and clean up my old recipe so that you guys can try to make something really good!
Watch the video below for more details on how to make this dish!
Ingredients for Miso Ramen:
Broth + Noodles:
To Make Miso Ramen:
A note- get the broth started, and make the chasu and the eggs while you're waiting for the broth to fully cook. You can make up the broth, pork, and eggs the night before, and then assemble on the day of.
1. Start with the broth. Throw bones, ginger, and water into a stock pot. Begin to boil. As it boils, strain off any scum that floats to the top. Reduce to a simmer, and let simmer about 6 hours. Replace water as needed, so that it is always at the same level and bones are covered. When it is ready, strain the broth to remove the ginger, bones, and any debris in the broth.
2. Throw kombu into the pot with the strained broth, and bring back up to a simmer. Let simmer about 15 minutes. Remove kombu, and add in sake, soy sauce, and sugar. Stir well, and then take a ladle full of broth, and mix it into the miso to thin it out. Add in parts, tasting as you go, until you're happy with the saltiness of your broth.
3. Finally, add in the chili paste to the broth as desired. The purpose is to add a little complexity and give it a slight kick, but add at your own discretion. Set aside in the fridge overnight, or set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
4. While the broth is cooking, soft boil the eggs. Bring a pan of water to a boil. Pierce the fat end of the eggs with a pin to allow the air bubble in the egg to be pushed out as the egg cooks. Add in the eggs to the boiling water, and let the water simmer for seven minutes (do not let it come back to a full boil!). I do this by dropping the eggs in and leaving them alone- the temperature of the eggs will reduce the heat of the water enough. But control your heating apparatus as you see fit. After seven minutes, remove from water and immediately deposit into an ice water bath.
5. When eggs have cooled, gently (GENTLY) peel the eggs. The white will be delicate, so go slowly and carefully!
6. Mix up the liquids in a bag or bowl, and pop the eggs inside. Allow to sit in the fridge for 1-2 hours at least, overnight for best effect.
7. Let's work on the Chasu! Salt the entirety of your slab of pork belly. Roll up, and use a skewer or butcher's twine to secure the roll.
8. Heat a neutral oil (like vegetable) over high heat in a pan. When hot, brown the pork roll, about 4-5 minutes each side, and 1-2 minutes on the edges of the roll. When ready, remove from pan, and wipe the pan out. Put in the liquids, the sugar, and the ginger, and place the pork back in the pan. Bring up to a simmer. Cover with a foil lid to promote even distribution of cooking.
9. Flip once, halfway through cooking, which should take about 45 minutes to an hour. It is ready when the sauce is thickened and you can see the bottom of the pan when you push the pork around. When the sauce begins to bubble up, and the pork has a nice shiny coating, it's ready. Remove from pan, with sauce, and set aside or store in fridge until you are ready to use.
Before moving onto the next step, bear in mind that the broth, eggs, and pork should all be ready to use after their copious cooking/ marinating times.
10. Prepare toppings. Slice the green onions finely, slice the naruto, get out the menma (they usually come prepared in a jar or tin), slice eggs in half, and slice the pork so that you get thin slices of swirled pork.
11. Put a pot of water on to boil. When boiling, place fresh ramen noodles into a strainer, and deposit into the water. Allow to cook about 90 seconds, or until noodles are bouncy. Immediately remove from the water with the strainer, and put in serving bowl.
12. Ladle broth over the noodles, and then top with the toppings as you see fit! For the proper Naruto ramen, you need five slices of chasu, a handful of chopped green onions, some slices of naruto, menma, and one half of a soft boiled egg.
13. And now it's done! Enjoy!