Last year, I returned to Nishiyama, the rural village in Japan where I lived for a few years. One of the first places I visited was the local ramen restaurant which serves the most delicious ramen you’ll ever taste.
Ramen is one of my favourite comfort foods especially when the temperatures drop in the Autumn and Winter months. Although ramen is now part of Japanese culture, it came originally from China. People are fascinated by ramen and everything about it. Japanese people believe that ramen making is like an art so each ramen restaurant (ramen-ya) will have their own secret stock recipe and this is guarded from one generation to the next. This art of ramen making is portrayed in a Japanese comedy film called “Tampopo” and an American film called “The Ramen Girl”.
Don’t be afraid to slurp! Most people are surprised that slurping is acceptable in Japan when eating hot noodle dishes like ramen. The Japanese believe it makes the food taste nicer and shows the chef that you are enjoying the food.
This is a simple ramen recipe filled with flavour to make at home, don’t be afraid to add your own twist.
– 1 tbsp sake
– 1 tbsp vegetable oil
– salt and pepper to season
– 1 chicken breast, butterfly cut
– 1 litre chicken stock
– 1 tbsp dried seaweed
– 2 packs of egg or ramen noodles (about 400g)
– 3 tbsp white miso paste
– 100g beansprouts, washed
– handful of pak choi leaves, washed and roughly chopped
– spring onion to garnish
– shichimi togarashi and/or chilli oil to add a little spice
To serve ramen you’ll need
– 2 large bowls
– 2 spoons
– 2 sets of chopsticks
1. To make the marinade for the chicken breast, in a small bowl mix together the sake, vegetable oil, salt and pepper.
2. Using your hands, completely cover the chicken in the marinade and leave to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Once the chicken is ready, heat a heavy-based pan on a medium to high heat and seal the chicken on both sides. Then reduce the heat and continue to fry until the chicken is cooked through and set aside.
4. Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan and immediately reduce to a simmer.
5. Place the dried seaweed in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes to soften. Then squeeze out any excess water and set aside.
6. Place the noodles in a bowl of boiling water and gently untangle using a fork or chopsticks. Drain in a colander and rinse under a running cold tap to remove any excess starch.
7. Toss the noodles into the stock. Bring the stock back to the boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer.
8. In a small bowl, mix the miso paste with a few tablespoons of hot stock from the saucepan, dissolving any lumps. Add the miso paste to the stock and mix well together.
9. Divide the noodles between two large serving bowls. Then divide the seaweed, beansprouts and pak choi evenly between the two bowls, arranging carefully. Slice the cooked chicken breast and place on top of the ingredients as shown in the picture.
10. Finally, fill the bowls about three-quarters full with the miso stock and garnish with spring onion and shichimi togarashi or chilli oil.
Fiona Uyema spent three years in Japan, where she learned about Japanese food. She has appeared on TV and featured in many publications, including the Irish Independent, The Irish Times, EasyFood magazine, FOOD&WINE and the RTÉ Guide. In her cookbook ‘Japanese Food Made Easy’ Fiona shares her love of Japanese cooking, known for its health benefits and carefully balanced flavours. Using local ingredients where possible, she demonstrates how easy it is to cook Japanese food at home without spending hours preparing complicated dishes.