Ramen, Two Ways (Based on Naruto and Tatami Galaxy!)

There are two ways to make ramen. Obviously, you could go to the store, buy some ramen, add hot water and a few toppings of your choice and be done with it. This is a great idea if you really hate cooking, or don’t have much time! It’s easy, effective, and gets the job done.

OR, you can make your own ramen from scratch. I, choosing the latter option, have set my sights on two different kinds of ramen from two different anime. The first, the classic, from Naruto, and the second from Tatami Galaxy. In case you aren’t familiar with these types of ramen, please observe the visuals below:

1) Naruto’s Ramen

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Wait, wait, wait! Not that kind of ramen! Cup noodles are so inferior to the real stuff. This Ramen:

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Naruto’s ramen is ramen eye-candy. It looks like everything you would hope and dream your ramen could be. In this episode, he has miso ramen with pork, and all the toppings are what you normally see on a traditional bowl of ramen: bamboo shoots, soft cooked egg, naruto (the pink and white fish cake), green onion, and, of course, the tonkatsu (pork). Simple, delicious, and filling.

2) Neko Ramen, from the show Tatami Galaxy

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Neko ramen is definitely more subtle in appearance. Rumored to be made with real cats, this soup has a taste unparalleled by any other. There are few toppings, presumably to let the flavor of the broth shine through. On it, we see a piece of nori (seaweed), what look like the white parts of leeks, and a few slices of tonkatsu.

At this point, let me stop you. It would be much, much easier to go to the store and buy some ramen, add the toppings for these two types of ramen, and create a delicious meal. However, I felt that it was important to recreate these recipes from scratch, as that is what the characters would be eating- ramen made from scratch and with no powders or dried noodles. Because I’m crazy I love a good cooking challenge,  and because both versions of this ramen look delicious, I thought I’d whip up a recipe for both of them!

How to Make Ramen

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Basically, ramen is a combination of a bunch of unique parts to make an amazing overall flavor. The three main components are the soup itself, the noodles, and the toppings.

The Soup

Ramen soups usually fall into one of three categories: shoyu (soy sauce), miso, or salt base. These bases, normally a concentrated soup of each individual flavor, are then combined with a stock, made from the bones of an animal, to form the soup for the ramen.

The Noodles

I bought mine from the store! Hehehehehe, ain’t nobody got time to make their own noodles, especially when I made everything else from scratch. Plus, home made noodles are hard to get uniform, and are very time consuming. You can do what you want, I ain’t judgin’, but I suggest that you buy or make a noodle similar to Chinese-style wheat noodle. They are a little thick and elasticky, and are the perfect noodle for ramen.

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The Toppings

You can buy most of the toppings from your local Asian supermarket. The bamboo shoots you can fine in cans or jars, and the fish cake will be refrigerated. The traditional Naruto fish cake was difficult for me to find, so I settled for the much more common half circle fish cake. However, if you can find the normal swirly one, go for it! I wish I could have found it. >.<

As for the meat, I bought strips of pork belly (basically un-sliced bacon) and prepared it by rolling, searing, and braising the meat. It was SO good, if nothing else you have got to try making the pork.

Putting it all Together

You want to start by making your stock. I made a chicken stock for my ramen for a few reasons. One, I wanted to reserve a little of it for another recipe that I am testing out. Two, chicken is a nice subtle flavor that blends well with other seasonings. Three, it’s easier for me to get my hands on cheap chicken bones than other animal bones.

If you are daunted by making a stock, don’t be! It’s as easy as roughly chopping up all your veggies, putting everything in a big pot, and letting it cook for 4-5 hours. Fun, fun, fun!

Though stocks are commonly made with animal bones, for this one I used meat-on chicken wings. Chicken wings are pretty much the best part of the chicken you can use to create a stock. They impart a LOT more flavor, and are really cheap. Other good bones to throw in would be chicken spines and necks. You can take the meat off the bones, because we won’t use the chicken in the ramen at all, but I was just too lazy to do so.

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A note on the seasonings I threw in with the chicken wings: For a regular old chicken stock, traditional items used for seasoning are carrots, onion, celery, bay leaf, and maybe a touch of tomato paste. Because this stock was going to grow up into ramen soup, I wanted to impart some more traditional Asian influences on the chicken stock. Thus, I used leeks instead of onions, cabbage instead of bay leaf, ginger, etc.

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20150614_151017Once you have your stock bubbling away, you can get started on your pork! The rolled pork in Naruto’s ramen is achieved by just rolling up your cut of pork belly (fat side out) and securing it with butcher’s twine or, in my case, a skewer. I really recommend using the butcher’s twine as I had difficulties later removing the skewer. From there, you just give your meat a little sear, add your liquids, and leave it to braise.

After it has had awhile to soak, you then transfer it to your second braising liquid and leave it there for awhile more. All that’s left to do is assemble your soup bases (remember? Salt, shoyu, or miso), collect your other toppings, boil the noodles, and assemble.

The Recipe

Not gonna lie, this recipe took me two days to make. I made the stock and braised the pork on the first day, and did everything else the next day. However, if you start early enough, you could totally have this all done in time for dinner. Most of these components are just adding things to pots and standing around, so you have lots of time in between to do other stuff. Just remember that the stock takes at least 2 hours, and the pork itself takes around 2.5 hours to cook in full. The other parts are pretty easy to get ready, but this isn’t exactly a quick recipe. It will take time, but it is so, so worth it. Really.

For the chicken stock, this recipe will make you OODLES of stock. Like, a lot. Probably around 8 or so big bowls worth of ramen. You don’t have to use all the stock for just ramen, it can be used to flavor other dishes, or you could also halve the recipe.

Chicken Stock
  • 4 pounds of chicken wings
  • 4 quarts water
  • 2 carrots, roughly cut
  • 4 stalks celery, roughly cut
  • 2 leeks, whites only, roughly cut
  • half of cabbage, shredded
  • half of garlic head
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 pieces of kombu, 10 x 4 inches, wiped down with a damp cloth.
  • 1/2 cup sake

Put the chicken and water in a stock pot over high heat, and bring to a simmer. Scoop off any scummy parts that rise to the top, and then turn heat to low and add in everything else. Simmer gently with the lid on for at least 2 hours. You can cook it up to 5 or 6 hours for more developed flavor, but it isn’t necessary. Then, sieve the liquid into another large container, and discard all the vegetables/bones/chicken.


Pork Belly
  • 2 pounds pork belly, rolled or unrolled, depending on which recipe you choose to make. (Naruto’s ramen uses rolled pork, Neko ramen is unrolled)
  • oil to coat bottom of pan
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 cup sake
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and smashed

Heat a pan to high heat, and coat the bottom with oil. When the oil smokes, place your pork fat side down in the pan, and sear for about 2 minutes. Do this to as many sides as you can, or until you get bored. Then, transfer pork into a pan with water, sake, and ginger, and let simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes.

THEN

Transfer the pork into your braising liquid.

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Braising Liquid
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 2 cups coy sauce
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3-4 star anise
  • a few whole black peppercorns
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and smashed

Bring the pork and this mixture to a boil for a few minutes, and then let simmer, uncovered, for 1.5 hours.


Prep your toppings! To cut the green onion for Naruto’s Ramen and the leek for Neko Ramen, just thinly slice the vegetables. For Neko ramen, just use the white part, but for Naruto ramen you can and should use both the white and green parts.

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Boiled Egg
  • 1 egg
  • water

Put your egg in a pan or pot, and add COLD water, until the egg is completely covered. Then, put the pan on the stove on high heat. When the water boils, turn the heat off and let the egg sit for 6 minutes. (This will achieve a slightly undercooked egg, which is the traditional type of egg for ramen. I overcooked mine a little bit, as you can see in the pictures.) As soon as the egg is done, peel, and plop in the braising liquid to gain that nice outer brown color. Then, simply slice horizontally.


Soup Bases

The ramen chef in Naruto says exactly what kind of ramen Naruto is eating: miso. However, the Neko Ramen in Tatami Galaxy is rumored to be made from cats….so I went with a shoyu base. Soy sauce has some great umami flavor, so I thought the soy sauce would add to the overall complexity of the dish, creating a unique flavor.

The amounts in these recipes are not enough for an entire pot of chicken stock. If you want only one type of ramen, please double these base recipes.

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Shoyu Base (For Neko Ramen)
  • 1 2 x 2 inch strip of kombu, wiped down with a damp cloth.
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup bonito flakes

Put everything in a pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Take the kombu out just as it starts to boil. Then, let it simmer over medium low heat for about 10 minutes, and strain into a container.

Miso Base (For Naruto’s Ramen)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup bonito flakes
  • 1 2 x 2 inch strip of kombu, wiped down with a damp cloth.
  • 2-3 tablespoons of white miso paste.

Put everything in a pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Take the kombu out just as it starts to boil. Add the miso paste, and stir to combine. Then, let it simmer over medium low heat for about 5 minutes, and strain into a container.


Noodles

1 Package of Chinese Style Noodles was enough for about 3 big bowls of ramen or 4 smaller bowls, but it really all depends on how many noodles you like in your ramen. If you tend to be a big noodle lover, just don’t underestimate the toppings when you are deciding how many noodles to add, as the meat can really fill you up as well.

Boil noodles according to package directions, and separate out into your ramen bowls.


You can come up with your own proportion of stock to base, depending on what you like. The base will be very salty, and the stock not salty at all, so if you want to experiment, be more cautious with the base than with the stock, as too much of it will make your broth too salty. Below is just the ratio I found most agreeable.

Ramen Broth
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup shoyu soup base OR 1 cup miso soup base.

Pour over noodles, and then add toppings. Done!! 😀

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Thanks so much for reading! I hope this was fun and enlightening. Many thanks to this guy’s post on ramen for giving me valuable help understanding ramen. Most of the recipes above are adapted from his own recipe. Check out his post for more help!  http://www.thepauperedchef.com/article/how-make-shoyu-ramen-home

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