Since it’s K.’s birthday today, I thought it would be appropriate to blog about a recipe from her blog $35 a week that I tried. Thanks for the recipe and happy birthday!
The recipe she used asks for a slowcooker, so I couldn’t resist to use sous-vide instead. I had never made ramen myself before. The chicken came out very juicy and tender and I was happy with the overall result. I do wonder whether you actually need a slowcooker (or sous-vide setup) to make something just as good, so that’s something to try next time. I’ll just sauté the chicken with the onions then, and I’d also like to make my own noodles.
I got to know ramen as a dish when I was on a study trip to Tokyo with the university in 1995. There were about two dozen of us, and it was interesting to see that some of us were trying to find Western food and had found out pretty quickly where to find the nearest McDonald’s to get a ‘hamubaga’, while others jumped at the chance to sample something new. Guess to which category I belonged? There were three reasons that made sampling Japanese food easy: (1) although I had never eaten with chopsticks before, it is surprisingly easy to learn, (2) almost all restaurants have plastic models of the food, so you can just point at what you’d like, and (3) although Tokyo has very expensive restaurants that are among the best of the world, there are very cheap places everywhere that serve simple and healthy but delicious food. Ramen, i.e. noodle soup, are very popular and I sampled a lot of those. You start by eating the solids with chopsticks, and then drink the broth. Later I discovered instant noodles, but that is a far cry from the real stuff so I never really got into that.
For 2 servings
225 grams (1/2 pound) boneless and skinless chicken thigh (or chicken breast, but I prefer thighs)
1 onion (100 grams), chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp oil
1 litre (4 cups) home-made chicken stock
2 carrots (100 grams), peeled and thinly sliced
2 Tbsp Japanese soy sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
Shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven flavor chili pepper) or plain red pepper flakes, to taste
1 star anise pod
1 bay leaf
100 grams (1/5 pound) ramen or other oriental noodles
1/2 head (400 grams) Chinese cabbage, shredded
green of 1 scallion (green onion)
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
Sauté the onion with the garlic, half the ginger and the shichimi in the oil until translucent. Add tomato paste and stir to mix.
Put the chicken with the onion mixture, the carrots, the chicken stock, the soy sauce, the sugar, the star anise and the bay leaf into a sous-vide zip pouch and seal the pouch with as little air as possible by submerging it. Cook sous-vide at 62C/144F for 8 to 12 hours (I put it in the water bath before I left for work and it was ready when I got home). If you have concentrated chicken stock in your freezer like I have, it is OK to use that and add more water later.
Take out the chicken…
…and shred it.
Transfer the contents of the sous-vide pouch to a pot. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed with salt, soy sauce, or shichimi and bring to a boil.
Add noodles and cabbage and cook for about 4 minutes (check the noodle package for instructions).
Discard the bay leaf and the star anise. Add chicken and remaining ginger. Serve in bowls, garnished with sliced green onions.