Click here to read my complete Niko Niku Ramen series.)
For me, memories of summers as a youth are inextricably tied up with ramen. Real ramen, not those bricklike bundles of deep fried starch and MSG-laced seasoning packets. Ramen with freshly made noodles that had just the right amount of chew, swimming in an unctuous broth of porky goodness, frolicking with meltingly tender slices of braised pork and hard boiled eggs whose yolks had barely set. The type of ramen that spawned illicit trips to Japantown after a hard day's work at the bakery.
(Chubbypanda's Niko Niku Ramen.)
I developed my recipe for Niko Niku Ramen (Smiley Meat Ramen) because I wanted a ramen that catered to my specific tastes. Since making this ramen is composed of several major steps, I've split the recipe into four parts, which I'll be posting over this weekend. This first part covers my Basic Ramen Stock, which is the mother stock for all of the different types of ramen I make.
Recipe for Basic Ramen Stock
1 chef's knife, Santouku knife, or Chinese cleaver
1 cutting board
1 6-quart stock pot with lid
1 large roasting pan
1 3-quart pot or mixing bowl
1 large strainer or colander (Needs to fit neatly above the 3-quart pot or mixing bowl.)
Cheesecloth (Enough to line colander or strainer.)
3 1-quart sealable plastic containers
Ingredients (Basic Ramen Stock):
1 cup of Chinese rice wine
2 medium onions
3-6 medium carrots
1 head of garlic
1-1/2 lbs of assorted bones, pork preferred (I save them in the freezer until I have enough.)
3 tbsp of vegetable oil (preferably Canola)
Prep work (Basic Ramen Stock):
If frozen, allow your bones to come up to room temperature.
Cut the head of garlic and the onion bulbs in half. Wash the carrots.
Place your oven rack in the middle setting and heat your oven to 350º F/175º C.
Instructions (Basic Ramen Stock):
Toss your carrots, onions, garlic, and bones in the vegetable oil and spread them out on the bottom of the roasting pan in an even later. Try to place the onions and garlic cut side up.
Roast in the oven at 350º F/175º C, until the bones and vegetables have browned. Some charring is fine, but remove the pan from the oven if anything is in danger of burning. Should take about an hour.
Place the bones and vegetables in an even layer along the bottom of the 6-quart stock pot. Deglaze the roasting pan with the rice wine and add the rice wine to the stock pot.
Add just enough water to cover the bones. Should be around or less than three quarts. Some of the vegetables may float. Don't worry about it. Do not season. That step comes during final ramen assembly.
Cover the pot and place on a stove burner set to high. Let the water come to a slight boil, then drop the heat to medium-low or low. The bubbles should be small and very slowly break the surface of the water.
Let the stock simmer on the stove for a minimum of three hours. I recommend at least eight hours. Personally, I like to let mine cook for around twelve hours over low heat. Do not lift the lid or stir until the allotted time has elapsed. The stock should be a rich brown color.
Once the stock is ready, turn off the heat.
Place your colander over your pot or mixing bowl and line it with cheesecloth. Ladle your stock and bones into the colander slowly, allowing the liquid to fully drain each time before adding the next ladle. Discard the cheesecloth and bones when done.
Allow the stock to cool for no more than one hour.
Divide the stock evenly amongst the three sealable containers and refrigerate. Sealed, the stock should keep for a week in the refrigerator or up to three months in the freezer.
Each container contains enough stock to make 2-3 bowls of ramen.
Tomorrow, we cover my recipe for Japanese Cha Shu (Braised Pork),