Happy Fourth of July, Americans! This morning I celebrated my right to YOLO solo. I clicked through slideshows of Kiernan Shipka’s red carpet outfits. I looked at pictures of Julie Klausner’s cat, Jimmy Jazz, on Instagram. I started Top of the Lake but switched to the South Park episode in which Cartman electrocutes himself in a kiddie pool so he can time travel to 1776. I ate a bowl of Japanese shrimp chips and a green tea mochi cake.
Look, I know I need to finish The Round House. I know I need to hang out with my friends in Beautiful Bars in Brooklyn. I know I need to put more poetry in my brain instead of reading Us Weekly, for which I pay a princely sum of $3.99 per issue, no sweat. (O my / Homunculus, I am ill. / I have taken a pill to kill / The thin / Papery feeling). But I don’t want to do any of that right now. Is that wrong? Is that bad? Should I go to the Queens Library right now and check out some Tomas Tranströmer? Should I go to the Met and look at some depressingly brown Dutch paintings? Should I take up Pilates? SHOULD I START A CALLIGRAPHY BUSINESS ON ETSY?
How about I just tinker around in the kitchen and call it a day?
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the kitchen is the only place where I’m truly productive, and this week was particularly fruitful. I developed a recipe for orange cardamom yogurt cake and I experimented with a German potato salad inspired by the one at Russ & Daughters. (Will post both in the near future.) But I’m most proud of trying my hand at homemade ramen, which I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.
Instant ramen is the first thing I learned how to make when I was eight years old, and it’s my ultimate comfort food. A poached egg is a must, but sometimes I’ll dress it up with slivered scallions and Spam. (I’m Hawaiian. It’s the steak of my people.) I initially wanted to try a tonkotsu broth with chashu pork , but both require the kind of time, brain power, and ready access to pig trotters and pork belly that I don’t usually have. And, honestly, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of ramen? Isn’t there a way to pull together a steaming bowl of umami goodness in under an hour, any time, any day of the week, without having to clear my schedule of all the nothing I have do?
Luckily, Steamy Kitchen has an excellent recipe for miso ramen, which one can feasibly make in under half an hour, Rachael Ray style. My version takes longer because I don’t use beef, vegetable, chicken, or pork stock. (I initially tried this with a beef and vegetable stock combo and it was terrible.) Instead, I reconstituted dried shiitake mushrooms in boiling hot water and used the mushroom water as my base, which allowed the dashi (bonito fish granules) and white miso paste flavors to shine through.
If you’re lucky enough to have a Japanese friend who regularly visits his family in Tokyo and a Japanese food market a few blocks away, like me, then getting dried shiitake mushrooms, dashi, miso paste, and noodles is a snap. For the rest of you, these ingredients are a click away on Amazon and can be stored for months in your pantry (dashi) and fridge (miso), unlike pig trotters and pork belly. This will make it easy to whip together future bowls.
The toppings are up to you. I used the reconstituted shiitake mushrooms, some thinly sliced radishes, chives, and soft-boiled eggs marinated in mirin, soy sauce, sake, sugar, and water for four hours. The eggs require advance planning, but if you’re making this on the fly you can easily poach a couple in the broth for three minutes. Donezo.
Miso Ramen with Shiitake Mushroom Broth
Adapted from Steamy Kitchen‘s miso ramen recipe
4 cups of boiling hot water
2 cups of dried shiitake mushrooms
2 servings of ramen noodles (most packages are bundled into servings)
2 t dashi
1 1/2 T soy sauce (preferred brand: Tamari)
3 T white miso paste
Red pepper flakes
Toppings pictured above:
2 soft-boiled marinated eggs (recipe below)
6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
4 radishes, sliced paper thin on a mandoline
2 T chopped chives
Place the dried shiitake mushrooms in a large bowl and reconstitute them with boiling water. (I use my hot water kettle for this.) Allow to sit for 30 minutes. Once ready, remove the mushrooms, slice six for toppings, and reserve the water. Refrigerate the rest of the mushrooms for later use–stir fries, risotto, casual snacking on your couch if you’re a big weirdo.
Boil the noodles in a medium saucepan for 2:45 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In the same saucepan, bring the mushroom water, dashi, and soy sauce just up to a boil. Off the heat and whisk in the miso paste. Taste and add more soy sauce if necessary.
Place two whole marinated eggs in the soup to gently heat through. Remove and slice open carefully. The yolks will be wet but should be mostly set.
Fill waiting bowls with noodles and ladle broth over. Top each with two egg halves, sliced mushrooms, radishes, and a sprinkling of chives. Add black pepper, red pepper flakes, and sriracha to taste.
Eat with fork and spoon. Slurp slurp slurp.
Marinated Eggs (Ajitsuke Tamago)
From Serious Eats
1 c. water
1 c. sake (I use the cheapest, smallest bottle I can find)
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. mirin (also available from Asian food marts or online)
Whisk first four ingredients together. Set aside.
Bring 1.5-2 quarts of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Turn down to a gentle simmer.
Take eggs from the fridge, gently prick the bottoms of the shells to prevent cracking (see: Hard-boiled Eggs Tutorial) and lower with a slotted spoon into simmering water.
Set a timer for 6:30 minutes if using medium eggs, 7 if using large eggs, 7:30 if using jumbo eggs.
When eggs are ready, fill a bowl with cold water and place the eggs in them. This will stop the cooking process.
Carefully peel the eggs under cold running water. (I’m terrible at this, but it helps to crack the bottom of the egg with the back of a paring knife and peel in a round from there.)
Place eggs in marinade and cover surface of the marinade with two paper towels to keep eggs submerged.
Serious Eats recommends 4-12 hours of marination. Twelve was way too long for me and seemed to cure the eggs. Four was plenty. In a pinch, I marinate for 2 hours.
You can keep eggs in a container in the fridge for up to three days. You can also save the marinade for reuse.