Click here to read my complete Niko Niku Ramen series.)
Now that we've laid the groundwork for my Niko Niku Ramen, it's time to get down to business. To make this dish, we'll be using the results of the three other recipes in this series. What we'll get is a great bowl of noodles with a rich, soy-based broth, lots of meltingly tender braised pork, and delicious hard boiled eggs. This is ramen the way I like it.
Recipe for Niko Niku Ramen
1 chef's knife, Santouku knife, or Chinese cleaver
1 cutting board
1 large saucepan (able to hold at least one quart of liquid)
1 6-quart stock pot
1 strainer or colander
Ingredients (Niko Niku Ramen):
(Spicy Chinese bamboo pickles.)
2-3 green onion tops
1/2 cup of spicy Chinese bamboo pickles (I prefer these over the traditional menma. You can get them in most Chinese markets.)
1/2-1 lbs of Japanese Cha Shu (recipe here)
2-3 hard boiled eggs (recipe here)
1 quart of Basic Ramen Stock (recipe here
1/2 cup of ramen soup base (cha shu braising liquid, recipe here)
2-3 servings of fresh ramen (Available from most Japanese or Chinese markets)
3 tbsp of salt
3 tbsp of vegetable oil
1 tbsp of hondashi (optional)
3 tbsp of shiro miso paste (optional)
3 tbsp of sesame paste (optional)
Prep work (Niko Niku Ramen):
To make the soup for our Niko Niku Ramen, place the Basic Ramen Stock in the saucepan and heat to just under a boil over medium or medium low heat. If the stock looks like it may come to a boil, drop the heat. Boiling will make the stock bitter and cause protein solids to froth on the surface.
Add the soup base to the stock and let the soup come back to almost a boil. Taste the soup and add additional soup base or salt if needed. You can also thin it out with a little water if you feel it's too thick. Remember that the soup will need to flavor a fair amount of noodle, so the flavor should be a little stronger than you might think.
At this point, you have the option of adding ONE of the three optional ingredients to the soup; hondashi, shiro miso paste, or sesame paste. Hondashi will add a marine richness to the soup. The shiro miso paste will make this a bowl of Niko Niku Miso Ramen. Mixing in the sesame paste will make Niko Niku Tan Tan Ramen. I wouldn't recommend more than one optional add-in.
Keep the soup just under a boil until ready to plate.
Fill the 6-quart stock pot 2/3 of the way. Place on the stove over high heat and bring to a roiling boil. Add the salt and oil. Let the water come back up to a roiling boil before adding your ramen.
Each ramen ball is enough for one serving. Let the ramen boil for the recommended time on the package. I tend to pull mine a little early, since I like my ramen al dente, but it's really a matter of personal preference.
As a side note, don't skimp when buying the ramen noodles. Despite all of our preparations leading up to this point, ramen is all about enjoying the unique texture and flavor of these Japanese noodles, which should be accentuated by the toppings.
Once the noodles are ready, pour into your strainer or colander, then rinse thoroughly under cold, running water until completely cool. Set aside in the colander to drain.
Slice or mince the green onion tops.
Slice the cha shu to your preferred thickness. Make sure the cha shu is fully chilled. It will make slicing easier. I like mine about 1/8 inch thick. You'll want 3-5 pieces per bowl.
Peel and halve the hard boiled eggs. You'll want 2 halves per bowl.
Instructions (Niko Niku Ramen):
Place a serving of noodles in mind on the bottom of each bowl. In the center, add a ball of bamboo pickles. Along one edge of the bowl, fan out your cha shu slices in a semi-circle. Place the two egg halves next to each other opposite the cha shu slices.
Ladle the near boiling soup gently into each bowl, trying not to disturb the toppings. The soup should come just over the edge of the cha shu. Add a pinch of sliced green onions on top of the bamboo pickles to garnish.
Serve with a squeeze bottle of more soup base in case you or your guests would like to adjust the flavor of the stock.
There you have it. My Niko Niku Ramen, which literally translates to "Smiley Meat Pulled Noodles". Cheerful little fellow, isn't he? I hope you guys enjoy the flavor of ramen Chubbypanda-style.
Makes 2-3 bowls.