Chicken Ramen

Summer in Germany has unfortunately been disrupted by a spell of grey damp days establishing the need for a flavourful, comforting soup with squiggly noodles. Nothing says comfort food like a bowl of piping hot Ramen, topped with a soft-boiled egg, fresh spring onions and slices of succulent chicken.

As much as I love instant ramen noodles, the real deal is worth the effort. Dusseldorf is dotted with Ramen shops often with people queued outside for hours, only for a delicious bowl of Ramen. Unfortunately for people practising halal or kosher eating, traditional Ramen is a no go. Therefore, concocting a halal/kosher version of this indulgent noodle soup was inevitable.

The springy trademark Ramen noodles are actually a Chinese invention that gained popularity in Japan. The blending of Chinese noodles with Japanese broth gave birth to a new tradition. These wheat noodles are served in a clear meat or fish broth flavoured with soy sauce or miso. Traditional toppings include slices of pork, which I have replaced with chicken for Halal reasons. I have also replaced Sake and Mirin (Japanese cooking wines) with non-alcoholic rice vinegar. Despite the amount of alcohol in Miso paste available being at the permissible level, I opted to flavour my broth with Soy Sauce.

Unlike the instant ramen noodles that have sustained generations of college students, making Ramen from scratch is a pretty complex process and since this was my first attempt, I did not want to overwhelm myself. So, to keep myself on track I shortlisted the main components and toppings to five manageable parts. It took me a good 5 hours to prepare all the components, but when everything came together in that first bite, my ooh my it was magical! All that hard work was rewarded.

Dashi, a simple clear chicken or fish stock, is the heart and soul of Ramen. In my version of Dashi Dried seaweed (Kombu), Bonito Flakes (Katsuobushi) and Shiitake mushrooms are steeped in simmering stock, amplifying its Umami profile. I made the chicken stock at home, but you can opt for store bought stock to save time.

Tare is the second most important element here. Taking inspiration from Delish’s Homemade Ramen recipe, we are using this concentrated soy sauce in three ways, as a braising liquid for the chicken, as a marinade for the eggs and as a seasoning for the soup.

Nitamago are Japanese soft-boiled marinated eggs. After the chicken is braised, we strain the braising liquid and allow it to cool. The eggs are then marinated in this reserved liquid for 4 hours till up to a day.

Slices of Soy braised chicken (Do not know the Japanese name) serve as a show stopping Ramen topping. I braised chicken breasts in an aromatic concoction made of soy sauce, rice vinegar, shaved ginger, and green onions. Once the chicken was cooked, I torched it to get some colour and char on it.

La-yu is a Japanese chili oil used as a condiment for Ramen or Gyoza. Bottles of La-yu are easily available at most Asian stores. It is also quick and effortless to make at home.

I used fresh Ramen noodles sold at the local Asian market. If you cannot get your hands on some fresh Ramen you can use instant noodles and discard their seasoning sachets. You can start preparing the different components days in advance, as all these elements can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

I hope you enjoy making and eating this recipe as much as I did. If you try this recipe, do send me your feedback. I love hearing from you. Happy slurping!

Ingredients:

For Dashi (Chicken Stock):

  • Chicken Stock 2 litres
  • Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms 150g
  • Kombu a 10″ square piece
  • Bonito Flakes 20 g

For Braising Liquid & Egg Marinade:

  • Japanese Soy Sauce 300 ml
  • Japanese Rice Vinegar 350 ml
  • Water 400 ml
  • Granulated White Sugar 1/4 cup
  • Brown Sugar 2 tbsp
  • Green Onions 2; cut into halves
  • Garlic 4 cloves; minced
  • Fresh Ginger 2″; grated
  • Chicken Breasts 2

For Marinated Eggs:

  • Eggs 4; large
  • Reserved braising liquid 2 cups

For Chilli Oil:

  • Garlic cloves 10; thinly sliced
  • Canola Oil 1/2 cup
  • Red Pepper Flakes 1 1/2 tbsp.

Additional Ingredients:

  • Ramen Noodles 4 servings
  • Green Onion 2; thinly sliced (optional)
  • Nori (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Begin by infusing flavor into the chicken stock for the Dashi. In a medium sized pot bring chicken stock to a boil. Once the stock starts boiling, remove from heat. Add shiitake mushrooms, kombu and bonito flakes to hot chicken stock and let steep for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes strain the stock and reserve the shiitake mushrooms for topping, and discard the kombu and other solids. Return Dashi to the pot until needed.
  2. In a separate pot heat all the ingredients except for chicken until they start simmering. Reduce the heat to low and simmer till chicken is fully cooked. Remove chicken breasts onto a plate and strain the leftover liquid. Reserve this liquid for egg marination and Ramen topping. You can char the chicken breasts with a kitchen torch to get some color on it (optional). Cut chicken breasts into slices and keep aside until needed.
  3. Boil water in a pot. Carefully lower eggs into boiling water and boil for 6 minutes. Immediately transfer eggs to an ice bath. Carefully peel eggs and dip them into 2 cups of cooled leftover braising liquid from above. The eggs should be fully submerged. Marinate eggs for at least 4 hours till up to a day. The remaining braising liquid can be transferred into a bowl to be added as a condiment over Ramen.
  4. To make the chili oil add garlic and oil in a pan. Place pan on lowest setting of stove. Gently allow the garlic to infuse into the oil on low heat, stirring occasionally. When the garlic slices begin to turn golden remove from heat and add crushed chilli flakes. Transfer prepared chilli oil into a bowl.
  5. Cook Ramen as per instructions given on the pack.

To assemble Ramen start by placing cooked noodles in a deep bowl. Ladle on hot Dashi until noodles are submerged. Top with slices of chicken, marinated egg cut into half, 2-3 tsps of reserved braising liquid, 1 tsp of chili oil, 2-3 pieces of Shiitake mushroom, green onions and nori.

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