When I was a kid, my mother was convinced that she could make miso soup at home after we became obsessed with eating it out (bless her). She went through countless unsuccessful attempts, then came the eureka moment: ‘you add the miso at the end!’ I don’t know where she learned that essential trick, but it made all the difference.
Before we go any further, I would like to clarify that this is by no means a traditional ramen recipe. See how I’m trying to avoid getting shouted at by the internet? While it is completely worth the effort, it’s not something that makes sense for the purposes of this book. I much prefer to leave that to the ramen experts; however, I do get an immense amount of joy from slurping noodles (ramen etiquette includes quickly eating the noodles and slurping – how awesome is that?), so I created this ramen-like noodle soup that can be made at home in just about 20 minutes.
Prep 5 minutes
Total 20 minutes
2 x 90 g (3 oz) ramen noodle nests (discard any flavour packets)
1 tablesooon sesame oil, for coating noodles
1½ tablespoons ghee
2 spring onions (scallions), white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons or up to 1 tablespoon sambal oelek or other chilli sauce, depending on desired heat level
450 g (1 lb) pork mince (ground pork)
1 litre (34 fl oz/4 cups) low-salt chicken or beef stock (broth)
3 tablespoons mirin
50 ml (1¾ fl oz/¼ cup) low-salt soy sauce
2 tablespoons miso paste
2 tablespoons wakame
There’s minimal prep to this recipe so first boil the water. While it reaches a boil, cut the spring onions (scallions) and measure out the ingredients and set up the toppings during this time or when the pork is cooking.
1. Half-fill a flameproof casserole dish (Dutch oven) with water and bring to a vigorous boil. Cook the noodles according to the package directions until just tender, about 2 minutes, then drain into a colander in the sink and immediately drizzle with sesame oil, using a fork and spoon to toss and coat the noodles until they have a glossy sheen so that they don’t stick together. Leave in the sink (just be careful if you decide to wash something else).
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the ghee in the same pan over a medium heat until melted. Add the white part of the spring onions, sambal and pork and season well with salt, breaking the pork apart into tiny, crumb-sized pieces with a wooden spoon. Let the pork it sit and make contact with the pan, stirring occasionally, until the pork is browned and cooked through, about 4–5 minutes.
3. Add the stock, raise the heat to reach a boil, then adjust to maintain a gentle simmer. Stir in the mirin, soy, miso paste and wakame, stirring occasionally. Cook until the miso dissolves and the wakame is soft and silky, about 4 minutes. Pour in the noodles, swirling them around with a wooden spoon to mix them in, then remove from the heat and adjust seasoning as needed with salt or more heat. Stir in the last bit of ghee, if desired, then divide between bowls and finish with toppings of your choice.
Mirin is a sweet Japanese rice wine. If you don’t think that you’ll use it again or aren’t ready for that level of commitment, then use 3 tablespoons white wine or sherry with ½–1 tablespoon sugar mixed in. You can also substitute ghee for butter or a neutral oil.
Use leftover wakame in the Miso-ginger soup with leafy greens.
Enoki mushrooms: add them with the miso and wakame as they will soften and cook in the same amount of time.
Dried nori: this will add a textural crunch, especially if you toast it lightly before and then cut into strips using kitchen scissors.
Soft-boiled egg: yes, you would have to make these in another pan, but a peeled and halved 6-minute egg – one that has been in boiling water for exactly that length of time, then put in an ice bath or run under cold water to stop the cooking process – would add a layer of creaminess to it.
Furikake or sesame seeds: finish with black sesame seeds from the Miso-ghee chicken thighs with roasted radishes (Lemon-saffron chicken kababs) (white ones work, too).
Kimchi: great for gut bacteria, it can be served on the side or on top at the end.
Spinach: stir in some baby or chopped spinach at the end, for more green.