Over the last few months I have been introduced to the wonders of London’s ramen bars by my lovely foodie friend Chriss, often when I’m in need of a pick me up, on of those days that can best be summed up like this:
And the first time we went, I forget where now and have trawled my Instagram account to try to jog my memory but didn’t upload any pics, I fell in love. Soft silky pork broth hugging slightly crunchy noodles, blanched green veggies, skinny slivers of onion, and tender meat falling apart in my chopsticks… Eggs with bright orange runny yolks, and an array of extras, like chilli oil, hot sauces, black garlic paste, to customise to my heart’s content.
Soon after, friends and readers started asking me for a ramen recipe. My eyes widened in horror: who was I to try to create the orgasmic utopia of my rainy-day experiences? No way. Not me. Ramen recipes are for Other People, I said. I couldn’t. Wouldn’t know where to begin. I tried to let you all down gently, but still the requests trickled in.
And then yesterday, dipping a spoon into my accidental three day beef stock, a quiet but insistent voice whispered: “Ra-men.” And again, “ramen ramen ramen ramen ramen go on you know you want to…”
So here I find myself today, dear readers, with my version of a ramen recipe. I’ve called it Ramen-ish, so as not to offend the professionals who take such glorious meticulous care over the authenticity of their ingredients, their bone-roasting, their 18 hour pork stocks, the dashi eggs, the things that make the proper experience so blissfully delicious… But this, if you can’t get yourself to a Tonkotsu or Bone Daddies, this comes a very close second.
Ramen-ish. Serves one at 77p.
250ml three-day beef stock, 12p ( http://agirlcalledjack.com/2015/04/11/three-day-beef-stock/ )
1 tsp soy sauce, 3p
1 tbsp Whoa F*ck dressing, 7p (http://agirlcalledjack.com/2015/04/11/whoa-fck-dressing-7p/ )
1 nest (50g) of dried noodles (try udon or soba if you want the proper experience but I’m an egg noodle girl, its Ramen-ish after all), 19p
Half a carrot (40g), 2p
1 large free range egg, 17p
1 spring onion, 5p
A fistful of fresh spinach (20g), 12p
First grab two saucepans, one for your noodles and one for your egg – the timings dictate that they will need to be cooked simultaneously, so have your wits about you, and a clock or other time-telling device to hand.
Decide which pan is which. The smaller one should ideally be your egg pan, if there’s a size difference. Pop water into your egg pan. Add the soy sauce, and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and leave sitting there simmering for a moment.
In the second pan, dollop in your stock and add 100ml water to loosen. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer.
Gently lower your egg into the egg pan, and your noodles into the noodle pan. Cook both for four minutes.
While cooking, ribbon your carrot with a vegetable peeler, then cut into thin strips. If you have a julienne peeler, use that instead, but they’re vicious on the old knuckles… Finely slice your onions and toss the white bits into the noodle pan to soften, reserving the green to garnish. Add the carrots to the noodles halfway through so they retain a bit of crunch.
Chop the spinach and the green part of the spring onions and leave to one side for a moment. Remove the egg from the pan and give it a quick blast of cold water. Peel it and halve it.
To assemble, pour the contents of the noodle pan into a bowl. Garnish with the greens, carefully place your egg on top, and dollop the dressing over the egg… And enjoy your bowl of comforting goodness… Yes the stock and dressing take a bit of prep, but you can keep both for a long time, and it’s all undeniably worth it…
Tip: For an even cheaper version, replace the noodles with the Basics kind at 25p a packet, but last time I had them they had changed the recipe and they err on the side of stodgy these days – although saying that I had them on their own, so they might come into their own in a great stock with some fresh veg to lift them… Also, if you didn’t make your own stock, you can get away with a chicken cube for this, but it won’t have the silky texture that a good ramen broth does; all depends on what your priorities are, and when I started blogging I’d have made this with a Basics stock cube and Basics noodles with tinned carrots and frozen spinach and considered myself lucky, so go right ahead. In fact, this might call for a separate Budget Ramen recipe all of its own…
Prices based on my last Sainsburys shop, correct at the time of blogging, but sadly subject to change as food prices do…
Light soy sauce 95p/150ml. Medium egg noodles £1.40/375g. Basics carrots 95p/1.5kg. Mixed weight free range eggs, £1/6. Spring onions 45p/100g. Fresh spinach £1.50/260g.
Jack Monroe. I’m on Twitter and Instagram @MsJackMonroe. If you like this then there’s a few hundred other recipes on this here blog, and books available to buy from lots of places but do consider supporting independent book shops and small businesses by buying from Hive Stores; check them out here: http://www.hive.co.uk/book/a-girl-called-jack-100-delicious-budget-recipes/18105011/