Friday, July 29, 2011

Cookbook Adventures: Momofuku Ramen

A little over a year and a half after buying the book, I finally got around to making the dish I knew I had to make: Last night, I finally made Momofuku Ramen for dinner (fresh alkaline noodles and all).
The catalyst for this monumental event was the arrival of the first issue of Lucky Peach, which is the most amazing food journal EVER. It's the kind of thing that appeals to a very specific reader, but if you are the type of person who completely geeks out both Dave Eggers and David Chang, you need to subscribe to this thing immediately. I read Issue One, which is all about ramen, cover to cover, went back to re-read several bits already, cooked from one recipe, referenced a chart repeatedly, and will probably do all of those things again multiple times. Another super-cool thing about this issue is that it includes some updates to the Momofuku Ramen recipes. The one I made use of right away is a Harold McGee update on making alkaline noodles at home without ordering any special ingredients (the noodles in the Momofuku cookbook call for sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate, whereas the Lucky Peach noodles use your toaster oven to transform baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) into sodium carbonate by baking it). Awesome. The issue also included some updates from David Chang on the current versions of Ramen Broth and Tare that they are using in his restaurants. Since I had ramen broth in the freezer, I forged ahead, but his new version is more affordable, so I'll definitely try it out next time.Link
The noodle dough came together pretty easily, and I used my linguini-cutting attachment to cut it into beautiful strands.
These cooked up at the last minute, just before plating...
In case you've forgotten, the ramen broth came from all kinds of meaty pork bones and chicken bones and general deliciousness...Speaking of that broth that was in the freezer, almost this entire dish was prepared in advance. The pork belly was prepared during a previous dish using the Momofuku method,
and the pork shoulder was cooked sous vide at 185°F for 24 hours and then frozen in vacuum-sealed portions.
I prepped the bamboo shoots with a bit of light soy sauce, sesame oil, and pickled Thai chile as the book suggests, and sliced a bit of narutomaki fish cake... even if mine is the wrong color. (The fish cake should be white with a pink swirl, but for some reason H-Mart only had hot pink with a white swirl... I just went with it because it tasted great and in the end I decided it was actually kind of cute...)
The egg went into its 143.5°F water bath 75 minutes before service (it was going to be 60 minutes, but noodle-making took longer than anticipated and I had built in that 15 minute buffer in the timing) before I was ready to pull it out and, after resting 5 minutes or so, it was perfection.
Some fresh shelling peas (the recommended "seasonal vegetable" that doesn't appear in any of his pictures) and sliced scallions, and that's it... The broth (seasoned with tare to taste) is poured over the noodles, and then the garnishes are arranged over the top...
So freaking awesome... That weird looking stuff at the 3 o'clock position in the bowl is some dried seaweed, which I used in place of nori. (It seemed like it would integrate better into the dish...) This was absolutely fantastic. Do I even have to tell you that? Just look at it.
I'm very glad I have all of these components ready to be worked together into another bowl full of awesome for dinner tonight...

Will I Make This Again?: Yes. A million times, yes.

Was it Worth the Work?: The beauty of the work in this one is that it was spread out over several weeks. This would be a ton of work to do in one day (and would still be worth it), but if you spread out component prep over a few days/weeks/months, this is a pretty mellow dish to prepare and is totally reasonable to do even if, like me, you're limited in the amount of time you can spend in the kitchen in any single shot.