Cooking with Greg – Homemade ‘Fake’ Ramen

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For anyone who has been following this series, you’re probably noticing a theme: I like making soup. I like eating it, too, but I think I enjoy making it more. The beauty of a soup is that there’s endless possibilities, once you get basic flavours down. You can make them with exotic and fancy ingredients, or just whatever you have. Either way, it’s not hard to make something that tastes good.

Earlier this week I got a nice tip from a friend on Facebook, which described a way to make ramen for cheap (and no, not talking about those instant noodle packets). At first I was skeptical, but seeing as a few bowls of real ramen have been some of the best flavours I’ve ever tasted, I decided to give it a simple try, using, as always, whatever I had at home.

What makes this a fake ramen is that we’re not using ramen noodles. By utilizing a bit of chemistry, we’re turning spaghetti noodles into ramen. Ooooh.

I did end up needing to buy one extra thing for this recipe: Baking Soda. While a usual pantry will have a bunch of this, my poor college student pantry was devoid of it, so I spent approximately an extra dollar on top of my usual shopping to get some. What’s it used for, you are probably asking? Well, that’s a good question. By adding baking soda to the boiling water before adding the spaghetti, it will raise the pH of the cooking liquid, which cooks the noodle differently and results in a very ramen-like flavour. The usual ratio is 1 tbsp baking soda for every 1L of cooking liquid, but more or less depending on how strong your broth will be. A stronger broth can warrant more baking soda, while a lighter broth should use slightly less baking soda.

One of the easiest ramen broths to prepare is Shoyu, which is stock and soy sauce. Easy, right? There are of course so many different variations, but the general base for this is stock and soy sauce. In this case, I used beef stock (beef bullion and water) and plain black soy sauce. I added black pepper, a pinch of salt (don’t need much, soy sauce is plenty salty) and a bit of cayenne hot sauce.

For toppings, I really wish I had some fresh green onion to garnish with, but I didn’t. What I did have was some Frikadeller, Danish pork dumplings, that I got from the fast food section on a whim. They’re fully cooked and can be served hot or cold, so I decided to put these in as well.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Spaghetti Noodles, Cooked in ratio 1tbsp Baking Soda to 1L Water
  • 1L Beef Stock
  • 250mL Soy Sauce
  • 1tsp Black Pepper (for flavour AND texture)
  • A pinch of Salt
  • 3 Good Dashes of Cayenne Pepper Sauce
  • Fully Cooked Pork Dumplings

The noodles cooked alright, but did seem to take slightly longer to cook than I would usually cook for al dente. They turned a deeper yellow colour and took on a nutty taste, very much like ramen. While they were a little thick, they definitely did the job.

The broth went together great, I combined the ingredients and heated to almost boiling, then removed from heat and added the cooked noodles. For plating, I spooned the broth into a bowl (I would recommend a deeper bowl than I used), placed the frikadeller in the broth, then placed the noodles over top, to heat up the dumplings and to create a nice stack o’ flavour.

In short, it worked. Very well. While still looking very much like spaghetti, it sure tasted like ramen, and a really good ramen at that. Even with my lack of garnish or ingredients, it was far superior to the instant noodle packs, and didn’t cost that much more per serving. I will be experimenting more with this, maybe next time adding my favourite ramen garnish: a soft boiled egg.

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