First things first, the cover. I don’t know whose creative idea it was to make the book read backwards (or right to left in the Japanese way), but it’s an annoying one. The amusement value lasts about a nanosecond but the irritation goes on forever.
Anyway, to the book. Ramen, as we all know, was the’thing’ for a while in London and people got very OCD about which restaurant had the best broth and the best noodles. Pig fat was consumed in vast quantities by people who, frankly, should have been eating a lot healthier considering they nearly all had bad burger habits too.
Ross Shonhan opened Bone Daddies restaurant in 2012, I remember him showing me around the place as it was being gutted out from its previous incarnation as a rather grubby Chinese restaurant. He was enthusiastic about everything and it was infectious.
The restaurant opened and the rest was history. Banged out with sheepsters for a while and then settling to constant custom from the general public. Now Ross has restaurants all over London, but this is his first book in association with Tom Moxon the group Head Chef
In the intro Ross reckons ramen is an art form and one of the greatest meals out there, well he would wouldn’t he, but he accepts that cooking ramen at home is different to cooking it in a professional kitchen and has borne that in mind when writing the recipes. We don’t all have massive cookers to create broth in, but he does still expect us to spend twenty hours making the Tonkotsu.
The intro, by the way does get rather sweary, as do other parts of the book. I suppose Ross reckons his youthful foodie audience appreciate this rock n roll writing but I think it’s a bit unnecessary even from an Australian.
Anyway reading from the back there’s plenty to enjoy. Bone Daddies didn’t just rely on ramen to pull in the crowds, there were other things on the menu thankfully and the snack section of the book introduces a few of them such as a Japanese Tomato Salad, Broccoli with Yuzo Kosho Mayo and other more sophisticated treats such as Beef Tataki with crispy kale and a Yuzu Miso dressing. You’ll need to buy expensive beef to make this one work though.
I love fried chicken Kara-age, the middle class KFC, here’s the recipe to make it at home if you have no fear of frying. Personally I don’t like dealing with oil more than a millimetre deep, but then I tend to always be a bit drunk when I’m cooking and know third-degree burns await the unwary.
Even tastier is the recipe for Salmon Kara-Age bun with chilli ginger mayo, cabbage and cucumber pickle all stuffed into a Bao bun, the latter now very trendy of course and not so hard to make at home. I know this, because I have made them myself.
But you’re probably here for the ramen, really and it all begins with a broth. Here is a recipe to make four litres and involves pigs’ feet, shin bones, back fat, pork belly and 15 hours or so of cooking. Then you liquidise the lot. Good luck with that.
But the whole point of making four litres is that you won’t have to go through that again for a while and can now make ramen with a moment’s notice. A sewn in bookmark lists the main ingredients of good ramen, which is a nice touch.
With your broth in the bag, on to the actual ramen and Ross and Tom give you all you need to know about building the perfect bowl to slurp away happily. Lots of great recipes, lots of temptation with toppings such as chasu pork, pulled chicken and fried soft-shell crab.
You’re recommended to get your ramen down you while it’s still scalding hot, the average Japanese person takes ten minutes apparently. Ramen is not something to have a chat over or’talking s**t’ as Ross puts it. Ramen is perfect for people in a hurry or eating on their own. You never look like Billy No Mates in a Ramen joint.
For Ramen lovers this is probably the best book you’re going to find to get your fix at home. All the fun of Bone Daddies but without the queues, and that has to be a good thing.