Not so long ago Ramen was the toast of London with food bloggers falling over themselves to get into the latest Ramen joint first and imperiously judge the quality of the tonkotsu bases. A lot of people declared themselves to be experts overnight and weren’t slow to pass judgement.
Well as is typical of the London food scene the craze has passed, but for those who still fancy a bowl of ramen now and then or simply want to know what all the fuss was about, here comes an excellent book that delivers education and expertise.
Amy is fourth generation Japanese-American (a Yonsei) and grew up eating a blend of the two foods – pork chops with white rice for example. She went to Japan to study ramen at source and learn what makes proper authentic ramen, but not 100% traditional when translated to Western store cupboards. It has after all to be practical by using accessible ingredients.
And she understands that breaking it down into easy steps means that meals can be conjured up quicker when things like the bases have already been made in bulk in advance.
The four basic soup bases, the heart of good ramen, can be made in mass. Miso, Shoyu, Shiyo and, Tonkotsu. The latter being the one that relies on a great deal of pig fat and which was the main London stormer.
The bases need a fair few ingredients and some time to make, slow cookers help. But once made you have enough to make around 12 portions and many are diluted further for serving. After that what goes on top is fairly easy.
Ramen has to have noodles but you don’t have to use fresh, as you’d find in a Ramen restaurant, like many a Japanese family you’ll be fine with dried or pre-prepared chilled.
And you don’t have to eat meat, there are plenty of dishes here to suit vegetarians, with the appropriate soups of course, and fish features strongly. Sweet chili salmon ramen is brilliant and topped with roasted garlic butter as if it wasn’t already delicious enough.
Spicy pork tantameh features minced pork with Szechuan peppercorns, peanuts and even lets you get away with just using chicken stock, perfect for a fast mid-week meal. Then there’s Chicken Potsticker Ramen, California Ramen topped with crabmeat, avocado, and cucumber and even Breakfast Ramen topped with crispy bacon and a poached egg.
And if you thought ramen was just for warming up in winter, then the Hiyashi Chuka Ramen with its noodles, ham and omelette all served cool will surprise you.
With over 70 traditional and non-traditional recipes this book reignites the ramen rave but this time keeps it right at home. Simple step by step instructions to build each dish and so seductively photographed you’ll be slurping like a salaryman in no time.
Published by Race Point Publishing