"A Day in Tokyo" recipe + pairing | Ramen

Vinomofo
By Vinomofo
25 days ago
10 min read

This delicious ramen recipe from the superb A Day in Tokyo by Brendan Liew and Caryn Ng (available now) got us thinking about the delicious wines we’d pair with, naturally. Such a savoury dish can be tricky to find the right wine for, but as always we’ve got a hot tip (plus a couple of in-stock recommendations). A perfect recipe to while away the weekend with a couple of glasses, enjoy.

Pairing tip: "Ramen is a dish that celebrates detailed, nuanced, and often indescribable flavours – whenever that’s the case I look for a wine with complexity to match. That’s no easy task, so only the best will do: enter three of the greatest grapes on the planet in chenin blanc, pinot noir, and nebbiolo. They’ll have the varietal depth, intrigue, and layers to sit happily side-by-side with this storied dish." - Pete, Wine Buyer

El Enemigo Chenin Blanc 2021

We've been huge fans of El Enemigo for years, especially their chardonnay. James Suckling has always felt the same way, often awarding it 97+ points. We're also lovers of chenin blanc, so we felt that the idea of El Enemigo making a chenin blanc was a potential match made in heaven. The fruit is sourced from 50 year old vines (who knew there were chenin vines that old in Mendoza!!!), pressed in whole clusters and then bottled unfined and unfiltered. We're talking texture for days, minerality, almond meal, cured lemon and a mouthwatering underscore of subtle salinity - perfect to pair with ramen.

La Biòca Riccinnebbia Langhe Nebbiolo 2022

Using only estate fruit sourced from their small 9 hectares of vineyard, this producer is known for some phenomenal Barolo along with several other celebrated styles of wine from Piemonte. 'Riccinnebbia' translates directly as ‘curly fog’ in English, referencing the autumnal fog that often curls over the Langhe region during the annual grape harvest. The wine is of course 100% nebbiolo, hand harvested and laid to rest in a variety of oak barrels for periods of 10-16 months depending on the vessel. It’s rather full in body for nebbiolo with a floral nose and delicate red fruits on the palate. The finish is dry but there’s a hint of fruit sweetness (not sugar) that provides lift and makes the wine enjoyable on its own or with gamier meats, charcuterie or, in this case, a delicious steaming bowl of ramen.


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RAMEN

This Tokyo-style shōyu (soy-based) ramen recipe calls for its various components to be made from scratch, so is best attempted over a weekend as a ramen project. 

The great thing about this recipe is that the individual components can also be enjoyed separately: the chāshū (braised pork) is brilliant with takana (spicy mustard greens) and rice, and the ajitama (soy-seasoned egg) can be eaten on its own, with rice or a variety of Japanese dishes. 

Aside from the ajitama, which keeps for three days, all other components can be kept in the fridge for up to five days, or used in Chilled ramen or Abura soba.

Finally, dried and frozen ramen noodles can be found in  Asian and Japanese supermarkets.

Serves 4

finely sliced spring onions (scallions), to serve

Marinated bamboo shoots, to serve (optional) [see below]

nori, to serve

Chāshū (braised pork)

1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) rolled boneless, skinless pork belly 1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon sanshō  (Japanese pepper)

1 litre (1 qt) soy sauce

300 g (10½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar

200 ml (6¾ fl oz) sake

1 tablespoon neutral oil, for frying

½ garlic clove

1 dried chilli

1 spring onion, green part only

Ajitama (soy-seasoned eggs)

4 eggs

400 ml (13½ fl oz) reserved Chāshū cooking liquid

Ramen broth

1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) chicken bones 

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) pork bones

1 onion

1 apple, halved

1 carrot

2 spring onions, green part only 

1 × 3 cm (1¼ in) piece ginger

1 × 4 cm (1½ in) piece konbu (dried kelp)

3 whole dried shiitake mushrooms

Ramen noodles

12 g (⅜ oz) kansui powder (potassium carbonate; see glossary), or 20 g (¾ oz)  baking soda

600 g (1 lb 5 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, or a combination of flours,  such as 90% plain,  

10% wholemeal  (whole-wheat)

1 teaspoon salt potato starch, to dust

Tare

100 g (3½ oz) chicken bones 250 ml (1 cup) soy sauce

1 tablespoon sake

1 whole dried shiitake mushroom

Flavoured oil (optional)

reserved fat from tare and ramen broth

1 tablespoon katsuobushi (dried skipjack tuna flakes)

1 The day before you plan to make ramen, prepare the chāshū for roasting. Season the pork with the salt and sanshō and place in the fridge, uncovered, to cure overnight.

2 The next day, place the soy sauce, sugar and sake in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.

3 Heat the oil in a large frying pan over very high heat until it begins to shimmer. Carefully sear the pork belly on all sides until browned. Transfer the pork to a large, heavy-based saucepan and add the cooled soy sauce mixture, garlic, chilli and spring onion, along with enough water to cover the pork.

4 Bring to the boil over medium heat, skimming away any impurities that rise to the surface. Cut out a circle of baking paper the same size as the mouth of the saucepan and place on top of the liquid; this will prevent it from evaporating too quickly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 hours. 

5 Test that the pork belly is cooked by piercing it with a knife; it should go through easily. Carefully remove the pork belly from the cooking liquid and place on a wire rack. Refrigerate the pork until required (chilling the pork belly makes it easier to cut).

6 Strain and reserve the cooking liquid for the ajitama. You can also use the cooking liquid to make marinated bamboo shoots (page 156).

7 To make the ajitama, fill a large bowl with iced water. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil over high heat.

8 Prick the bottom of the eggs with a thumb tack or special egg pricker (these can be found at Daiso, Tokyu Hands and Japanese ¥100 shops). This prevents the egg from splitting during boiling and creates an almost perfect oval shape.

9 Carefully place the eggs in the boiling water and boil for exactly 6 minutes, then transfer to the iced water using a slotted spoon. Set aside for 20 minutes to allow them to cool completely. After 20 minutes, peel the eggs and immerse them in the reserved chāshū cooking liquid. Transfer them to the fridge to marinate for 6–8 hours.

10 To make the ramen broth, place the chicken and pork bones in a large stockpot, along with 1.5 litres (1½ qts) of water. Bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 hours, regularly skimming away any impurities that rise to the surface, until the foam turns white. 

11 Add the onion, apple, carrot, spring onions and ginger and cook for 30 minutes. Add the konbu and mushrooms and simmer for 1 hour. 

12 Strain the broth into a container, discarding the solids, and chill in the fridge. After chilling, scrape off the solidified fat that has risen to the surface and reserve for the flavoured oil, if making.

13 To make the noodles, you first need to prepare the alkaline solution that gives the noodles their springy texture and yellow colour.

14 If you are using baking soda, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and line a tray with baking paper. Spread the baking soda onto the tray and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. This converts the baking soda into sodium carbonate, an alkaline powder like kansui powder. 

15 Whisk the kansui powder or sodium carbonate with 300 ml (10¼ fl oz) of water; this is your alkaline solution. 

16 Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and slowly trickle in the alkaline solution. Mix by hand until it forms a very stiff dough, adding more water if it is too tough to knead. The dough should be hard but malleable, and shouldn’t crumble.

17 Roll the dough out into a rectangle as best as you can and feed it through the widest setting of a pasta machine. Fold the dough in half and feed it through the machine once more. Reduce the width between the rollers and feed the dough through again. Continue this process until the dough is approximately 3–4 mm (⅛ in) thick. 

18 Using a sharp knife or the pasta cutter on the pasta machine, slice the dough into thin noodles and dust liberally with potato starch to prevent them from sticking. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge until you are ready to cook the noodles.

19 To make the tare, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Place the chicken bones in a roasting tin and roast for 45 minutes. 

If making the flavoured oil, strain the juices that have collected in the bottom of the tin and set aside with the ramen broth fat. Transfer the roasted bones to a large saucepan over medium heat and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes. Transfer to  the fridge to chill, then strain into a bowl and set aside.

20 If making the flavoured oil, place the reserved fats and katsuobushi in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. When cool, strain the oil into a bowl and discard the katsuobushi.

21 To assemble one bowl of ramen (simply multiply the quantities below if serving more than one; this recipe makes enough for four bowls), bring 300 ml (10¼ fl oz) of the ramen broth to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat. 

22 Slice the chāshū into 5 mm (¼ in) slices.

23 Fill a separate large saucepan with water and bring to the boil over high heat. Measure out 150 g (5½ oz) of the ramen noodles and place in the boiling water. Cook for 3 minutes (or follow the packet instructions if you are using store-bought noodles).

24 Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon of the tare and ½ teaspoon of the flavoured oil (if using) in a warm bowl and add the hot ramen broth. Drain the cooked noodles well and add to the bowl, mixing to incorporate the tare and oil. Top with two pieces of the chāshū, one ramen egg, 1 tablespoon of the spring onion, 1 tablespoon of the marinated bamboo shoots (if using) and one sheet of nori. Serve immediately.

Note

This noodle recipe produces a thicker, Tokyo-style noodle with a chewy texture like that of mochi. Increasing the water content results in a more mochi-like texture, while reducing the water content results in a more wiry or ‘snappy’ texture that is common in Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen. It is very difficult to produce a very low water content noodle without the use of a ramen machine.

Menma (marinated bamboo shoots)

1 × 400 g (14 oz) tin sliced  bamboo shoots, drained

200 ml (6¾ fl oz) reserved Braised pork cooking liquid (see above)

1 handful of hanakatsuo (dried skipjack tuna flakes)

1 Place the bamboo shoots in a saucepan and cover with water, then bring to the boil over high heat and boil for 5 minutes. Drain and repeat the process two more times. This removes the tinned taste from the bamboo shoots and makes it easier for the marinade to be absorbed.

2 Return the drained bamboo shoots to the saucepan and  add the braised pork cooking liquid and enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. 

3 Place a sheet of paper towel on top of the liquid, followed by the hanakatsuo. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Discard the paper towel and hanakatsuo. Reserve 1 tablespoon of bamboo shoots for this recipe and transfer the remaining bamboo shoots and liquid to an airtight container. The menma will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.


This recipe is from A Day in Tokyo by Brendan Liew and Caryn Ng, published by Smith Street Books, $39.99, available now.

Photography © Alana Dimou

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