I LOVE RAMEN.
Like, I really love it. I’d say my trip to Japan last year was 83% inspired by the fact that I wanted to go and eat all the ramen in the Land of Ramen. (I did, and it was as delicious as I’d dreamed it would be.)
In London, I’ve tried ramen in several different Japanese restaurants, but my absolute favourite is Shoryu. Their Koteri Hakata pork-broth ramen bowls got me through many a miserable rainy Friday when I was working in Piccadilly. Honestly, it’s as good as anything I tried in Japan, and if I could afford to eat there every day, I absolutely would.
I’ve always wanted to make my own pork ramen at home, but after looking into the process, it seemed so complicated that I just abandoned the idea. I had a small attempt at making it with a miso broth, but it just wasn’t the same. It lacked the depth and variety of flavour that I associate with ramen.
But last week, Gary discovered chilli chicken ramen. He is a man obsessed, and I decided that to save our bank balances from too much Wagamama spending, I really had to try recreating it at home.
So here it is. My first ever successful at-home ramen recipe. This chilli chicken ramen is fairly cheap, fairly easy to make, and ready to serve in just 45 minutes.
Winner, winner, chicken ramen dinner!
The most important part about chilli chicken ramen is getting the broth right. It’s the backbone of the whole dish, so you want to make sure you have really well-flavoured stock to get it started.
If you’re a wonderfully organised person, you could roast a chicken on Sunday, pop the bones in a pot with some water, and you’ll have a lovely fresh stock (and maybe leftover meat?), which you can then turn into ramen on Monday.
If roasting a chicken and fiddling with bones seems like too much of a faff, why not give Jane’s slow-cooker chicken recipe a go instead? I’ve yet to try it, but I trust all of Jane’s recipes, so it’s definitely on my list to try when I get back from Spain!
If you’re not making your own stock, then just make sure you get hold of some really good quality stuff from the shops. The stock is the base of your ramen, and if it’s not good strong stock, then the whole dish kinda falls apart in terms of flavour.
HOWEVER if you’re reaaaaally on a budget (or you’re whipping this up at 11pm when everything is closed), then a stock cube (or melting pot) dissolved in 500ml of hot water will do.
Mirin and miso should be fairly easy to find these days, and they’re not too expensive. I buy mine from the specialty foods section in my local Sainsburys. Mirin is a Japanese sweet rice wine, mostly used in cooking. Miso is a fermented soy bean paste commonly used in soups, sauces, pickles and marinades.
For the toppings on my chilli chicken ramen, I used pak choi (which is poached right in the broth), raw spring onions, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Picked pink onions, or crispy fried onions are also a great shout if you happen to have them around.
The chicken is seasoned with chilli flakes and ginger, then baked in the oven – but if you have leftover roast chicken, you could just reheat it all the way through in a frying pan with the same seasonings and a little oil. Serve shredded or in slices.
The soy marinated eggs are my absolute FAVOURITE part of a ramen bowl, and I will always order them as an extra if they’re not included in a restaurant.
The recipe I use for my home-made ones actually comes from Tim Anderson’s Japaneasy cookbook (which I’d fully recommend if you’re into Japanese cuisine), and they’re super easy. I keep a jar of soy sauce and mirin in my fridge at all times now so I can make them whenever I fancy!
I find boiling the eggs for 7 minutes makes for a perfectly set white and slightly gooey yolk, but if you prefer a full hard-boil, then cook them for 10 minutes. Don’t go any less that 7 minutes though, or the whites will be too gooey and the eggs won’t hold their shape when you peel them.
VEGETARIAN SUBSTITUTES: I’ve not made a veggie version of this (yet), but I will update when I do. I should think it would be fairly easy though: just substitute the chicken stock with good quality vegetable stock, omit the fish sauce, and top with crispy tofu instead of the chicken slices.
This homemade chilli chicken ramen is perfect for winter. The chicken broth is infused with chilli, ginger, garlic, mirin and miso, and is served alongside easy soy marinated eggs, pak choi, and a baked chicken breast.
Put a pan of water on a high heat to boil. When it's bubbling, add the eggs. Set a timer for 7 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the soy sauce and mirin into a clean and empty jam jar or small bowl. Stir or shake, so it's all mixed.
When the eggs are done, scoop them out of the pan with a spoon, and pop them into a bowl of cold water.
Once the eggs are cool enough to handle, peel them, and add them to the marinade. Let them steep for at least 20 minutes.
Turn the oven to 180 degrees Celcius (on a fan-assisted oven). Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper or tin foil, and lay out your chicken breasts side by side.
Sprinkle 1 tsp of ground ginger and 1 tsp chilli flakes over each of the chicken breasts, then add a sprinkle of salt and some cracked black pepper. Drizzle with the oil, and pop them in the hot oven to bake for 30-35 minutes.
Peel and crush the garlic cloves. Slice the chilli in half, deseed it, and chop it into small pieces.
Drizzle 1 tbsp oil in a deep pan, and pop it on a medium-high heat. Once it's hot, add the ginger, garlic and chilli to the oil, and fry for 2 minutes, stirring so it doesn't burn.
Pour in the chicken stock, soy sauce, fish sauce and mirin. Stir and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes - to infuse the flavours.
Slice off the dirty root end of the pak choi, and separate the individual stems. Wash it all, and shake off any excess water. Then use a sharp knife to slice through the middle of the thick bottom part of each stem (this is so it all cooks evenly).
Pop the ramen noodles and pak choi into the broth, and cook for 5 minutes until al dente. Once cooked, use tongs or a spoon to remove the noodles and pak choi - place them in the soup bowls for serving.
Whisk the miso into the remaining broth, until dissolved. Pour the broth into the bowl, over the noodles.
Slice the chicken diagonally, and place on side of the bowl. Remove the eggs from the marinade, slice them in half, and place next to the chicken.
Chop off the roots and top of the floppy leaves on the spring onions. Use a sharp knife to score a line down the middle, and peel off any old, rubbery layers. Then slice the remaining onion diagonally. Pile it next to the other toppings.
Finish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and serve immediately.
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