Sunday, September 5, 2010

Momofuku Ramen Broth (and vegetarian version)

The Momofuku Ramen Broth has more meat than I've ever used in a broth! For ten servings it has ten pounds of meat (five pounds of meaty pork neck bones, four pounds of chicken...whole, and a pound of bacon). And it takes ages to make. (I think about eight hours total, but it ended up taking me a couple of days.)

Yeah, that's a lot of meat and a lot of broth.  I made the meat version first, to see what it tasted like.  (And then invited anyone who would come to help eat it.)

Making a similar vegetarian version is beyond my culinary abilities, but here's what I came up with.  (I mean, Niall's not going to know the difference, right?)  I used the Momofuku recipe where I could and then modified the broth recipe.  In an attempt to get a smoky flavor without bacon I used a bit of Lapsang Souchong (a smoky Chinese tea) and just a touch of Liquid Smoke. This version takes about six hours, which is still a long time.  But I like the broth enough that I'll do it again.  Plus it makes so much that it's easy to freeze extra. 


2 sheets of konbu (dried kelp)
3 cups dried shiitakes, rinsed
2 medium-size yellow onions, quartered
1 bunch green onions (white and green parts), cut crosswise into several pieces
1 head cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped
2 medium-size carrots, cut into chunks
1 head garlic, with the cloves separated and left unpeeled but cut in half
8 thin slices fresh ginger, left unpeeled (about 1 1/2 inches of garlic total)
1 Tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
1 Tablespoon Lapsang Souchong
Liquid Smoke (just a few dashes)

Pour six quarts of water in a big stock pot and put it on the stove on high.  Rinse the konbu and put it in the water.  Bring the water to a boil and then turn off the heat.  Let the konbu steep for about ten minutes.  Remove the konbu.  (It can be used in the Grilled Octopus Salad, which I haven't made yet.)

Turn the heat back to high.  Add the shiitakes and bring the water to a boil.  When a rolling boil is reached, turn the heat to low and simmer the shiitakes for 30 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the mushrooms.  (It's okay if you miss a few.  The boiled shiitakes can be pickled.)

Now add the remaining ingredients, except for the Taré and Liquid Smoke.  Gently simmer the broth and vegetables for 3-4 hours.  Add more water as needed.  I stopped adding water after about 2 1/2 hours and let the soup reduce.

Line a strainer with cheesecloth and pass the brother through the strainer.  You can use the broth now, but I put it in a container to store for later.

When you're ready to make the broth, it needs to be seasoned.  This is where the Taré and Liquid Smoke come in.  Heat the broth and add Taré and Liquid Smoke to your taste.  The cookbook recommends 2-3 Tablespoons per quart, but let your tastebuds guide you.  Be very reserved with the Liquid Smoke because a little can go a long way.  Add a dash at a time.  "Taste it and get it right.  I like it so it's not quite too salty, but almost.  Very seasoned.  Under-seasoned broth is a crime."  -David Chang

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