Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dinner - Japanese style ramen soup

I recently picked up a new book from the library titled "Let's Cook Japanese Food!" by Amy Kaneko. Matt flipped through it the other night and selected a few dishes he thought we would both enjoy.

A little background info - Matt and I spent our honeymoon in the beautiful country of Japan. We toured Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa for the glorious span of two and a half weeks (not nearly long enough).

While we were in Okinawa, we had a delicious meal the folks there called "Okinawa Noodle" (see photo at left), which was a nice soup with thick soba noodles, a warm and slightly salty broth, and an added bonus of a pork spare-rib. I think tonight we both had this meal in mind as we ate.

Unfortunately, it was not very similar, but it was still pretty tasty and brought back great memories of our trip. It also allowed me to eat soup with chopsticks, sipping the broth from the bowl in classic Japanese fashion (it really is the best way to eat soup).

The ramen soup we had tonight from the book was called "Shohei's Special Pork and Sesame Ramen Noodle Soup". I'll give you the general idea of how this recipe is made, and if you're interested, I highly recommend you check out the book! The recipes seem relatively simple to make and the photos are quite beautiful, so it's worth it just to give it a look.

The thing I really enjoyed about this meal was the fantastic contrasts you could taste with each bite. The meat was a bit salty with a spicy kick, while the bean sprouts added a clean and refreshing crunchy element. It seemed to be a really nice balance of flavors, with no one flavor overpowering another.

Matt actually made dinner tonight, which was a huge treat! I seriously did nothing to help him aside from switch two pots around on the stovetop. This is not to say he never makes dinner, because he does, but he was trying to get me to relax and not worry about making dinner for a night.

Here are the basics for the recipe (without giving away the whole enchilada):

Cook 1 pound pork (we used chunks) in a teaspoon of sesame oil.
Add 1 tablespoon sriracha chili sauce (we subbed this for another ingredient in recipe) and 1 teaspoon minced garlic. Stir until cooked, then set aside away from heat.

Prepare 4 cups chicken broth (we use Penzeys Chicken Soup Base) and bring to boil.
Prepare 4 packages instant ramen noodles (discard/save flavor packet for another use) as directed on package.

In soup bowls, put about a teaspoon of sesame seeds (we used black sesame seeds) into each. Top with broth. Drain noodles and add to bowls, and top with any other desired ingredients. We used bamboo shoots, green onions, and bean sprouts. Matt also hardboiled/peeled an egg for his bowl, as suggested in the recipe, a very authentic Japanese touch.

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