Remember when I was talking really big last week about making ramen from scratch after I read Ivan Ramen? Well, I made it. It took about twelve hours from start to finish and it was almost worth it.
I set the alarm for 5:00 AM on Ramen Day and headed straight to the kitchen to unpack the meat. Making ramen the Ivan Ramen way involves a lot of meat—and not the nicely trimmed pieces of chicken breast that you get from Fresh Direct. I’m talking about whole chickens chopped up into parts and slabs of fatty pork with some bristles still left on the skin. If you’re squeamish, like I am, there is a definite ick factor.
Still, I managed to hold it together and got what needed to be simmering on the stove simmering on the stove. When I sat down to breakfast, all of my large pots were bubbling a way and a tray of sofrito was cooking slowly in the oven. I was on my way to getting together the different components of ramen, which are chicken fat, pork fat, shio tare, sofrito, katsuobushi salt, chicken stock, toasted rye noodles, half-cooked eggs, menmo and dashi.
One of the things that Ivan Ramen taught me is that there’s a fair amount of precision needed to make ramen—the chicken broth, for example, has to remain at a pretty specific temperature for a very long time—but there’s also a lot of down time. I used some of this to send my sous-chef (also known as my husband) to Fairway to buy some fresh noodles.
After several hours of relative calm, work started up again and I was making the half-cooked eggs and chopping scallions to finish everything off. And then, almost before I knew it, I had the seven components of ramen in various containers in my countertop and we were ready to eat.
We’d invited a friend over for dinner—if you’re going to make ramen from scratch, you definitely have to show it off—and as we assembled our bowls, I realized the triumph of my achievement. I had made ramen almost entirely from scratch. In a way, it almost didn’t matter how it tasted. But man, it was good.
Steps one and two: making chicken fat, pork fat and chicken broth