How to ramen, Momofuku style

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Remember those college days of instant ramen and cup noodles when you were too busy studying and didn’t have time to cook?  I had my fair share of those days.  I stockpiled them.  I didn't know any other type of ramen besides the instant one.  Anyway, I got a proper introduction to Japanese ramen when Vu and I were in the bay area a few weekends ago.  Vu’s sister took us to Orenchi Ramen in Santa Clara.  The restaurant opens at 11:30, but the list of name on the waiting list was growing by 10:30.  I thought those people were crazy.  Boy was I wrong.  Their ramen was beyond my expectation, and my craving for ramen has been plaguing me ever since.   

I couldn’t stand it anymore and took the plunge to make ramen, my first experience with Japanese cooking ever.  I used the ramen recipe from David Chang's Momofuku cookbook.  This recipe is very involved but worth every effort.  I made the broth and prepared the pork belly a day ahead.  If you are health conscious, leave the broth in the fridge overnight to let the fat harden and remove all the fat before warming up the soup.  I discarded about a half inch fat layer.  If you prefer your broth fatty, remove half of the fat.  The broth was very flavorful.  A nice balance of saltiness, smokiness, and sweetness.    

And the pork belly was amazing!  So juicy and tender.   

The pork belly and egg are essential but the possibilities for garnish are endless.   

What can I say!  We ate ramen for dinner three consecutive nights.  This experience has given me a new appreciation for ramen.  David Chang, your recipe is a keeper!  


Momofuku Ramen (adapted from Momofuku by David Chang)

Ramen Broth
2 3x6 in pieces of konbu (edible kelp)
6 quarts water
2 cups dried shiitakes mushroom, rinsed
1 four-pound chicken, either a whole bird or legs/thighs
5 pounds meaty pork neck bones
1 pound smoky bacon
1 bunch of scallions
1 medium onion, halved
2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

½ cup of sake
½ cup of mirin
1 cup of light soy sauce
2 tbsps sugar

1. Rinse the konbu and combine it with water in an large stockpot.  Bring water to a simmer over high heat and turn off the heat. Let steep for 10 minutes.
2. Remove the konbu from the pot and add the shiitakes.  Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a boil.  Then turn the heat down and allow the liquid to simmer gently for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 400˚F.  Put the pork bones on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven for an hour, turning them over at the 30 minute mark to ensure even browning.
4. Remove the mushrooms from the pot and add the chicken. Save the mushrooms for later. Let the liquid simmer gently, removing any froth, foam, or fat that rises to the surface.  Replenish water as needed to keep the chicken covered.
5. After an hour, test the chicken: the meat should pull away from the bones easily.  If it doesn’t, simmer until you can do that.  Then remove the chicken from the pot.
6. Add the roasted pork bones to the broth along  with the bacon.  Adjust the heat to keep the broth at a steady simmer. 
7. Remove the bacon after an hour and continue simmering the broth for 6-7 hours.  Stop adding water to replenish the pot after 5 hours.
8. Add the scallions, onion, and carrots to the pot and simmer for the final 60 minutes.  
9. Remove and discard the spent bones and vegetables.  Pass the broth through a strainer lined with a cheesecloth. 
10. Finish the broth by seasoning it to taste with the sake, mirin, soy sauce, and sugar.

Pork Belly
1 three-pound slab pork belly
¼ cup kosher salt
¼ cup sugar

1. Nestle the belly into a roasting pan that holds it snugly.
2. Mix together the salt and sugar in a small bowl and rub the mix all over the meat.  Cover the container with plastic wrap and put it into the fridge for at least 6 hours but no longer than 24 hours.
3. Preheat the over to 400˚F.
4. Discard any liquid that accumulates in the container.  Put the belly in the oven, skin side up, and cook for 1 hour, basting it with the rendered fat.
5. Turn the temperature down to 250˚F and cook for another hour until the belly is tender.  It shouldn’t be falling apart.
6. Remove the pork belly and transfer it to a plate and allow it to cool to just about room temperature.
7. When ready, cut the pork belly into ½ inch thick slices that are about 2 inches long.

2 cups of ramen broth
5 oz of store-bought fresh ramen noodles
2-3 slices of pork belly
2 pieces of nori
¼ cup of thinly sliced scallions, both greens and whites
2 slices of store-bought fish cake
4-5 pieces of canned bamboo shoots
Shiitake mushrooms
¼ cup of seasonal vegetables
1 hard boil egg or slow-poached egg (Vu will share his secret technique for poaching egg in another post)

1. Get all the ingredients ready.
2. Heat the soup and season to taste (miring, salt, or water).
3. Boil the noodles according to manufacturer’s instruction.
4. Place the ramen into the bowl.  Arrange the meat, egg, and garnishes (bamboo shoots, fish cake, vegetables, and nori) around the edges of each bowl.  Add the scallions.
5. When ready, ladle 2 cups of soup into the bowl and serve hot.

Passion fruit frozen yogurt

Sunday, June 24, 2012

We fell in love, with frozen yogurt, that is.  Well not just any frozen yogurt, but HOMEMADE passion fruit frozen yogurt.  We found some passion fruits at the farmer’s market yesterday and decided to stock up.  With our recent success with the roasted strawberry ice cream from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, I decided to try her passion fruit frozen yogurt recipe.     

The flavor was intense.  But perfect.  Vu and I love the tartness.  Similar to how Vietnamese yogurt tastes, the ones we grew up with, which Pinkberry has successful introduced to the American consumers.  If you have traveled to Vietnam, you probably remember the frozen yogurt sold in a little plastic bag.  And only one flavor, plain tart, unlike the multitude of flavors offered at the typical American yogurt parlor.  The hot, humid weather of Vietnam melts it quite nicely and turns it into a delectable treat of sweetness and tart.     

We have always liked yogurt, even more so than ice cream since it's a healthier alternative.  Just about every time we went to dinner, we would end the night at Yogurt World or Pinkberry. 

The frozen yogurt was a perfect treat for a warm afternoon.  Absolutely refreshing.  And the color was gorgeous.  Beautiful sunny yellow.  A welcoming sign of summer.  We enjoyed it so much that I whipped up a second batch already.  Hidden nicely in the back of our freezer.  We are ready for the upcoming warm summer afternoons and evenings.  

Passion Fruit Frozen Yogurt (adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home)

1 quart plain low-fat yogurt
1 ½ cup sugar
1 cup passion fruit pulp
1 cup and 2 tbsps whole milk
2 tbsps cornstarch
¼ cup light corn syrup
1 cup of heavy cream

1. Set a sieve over a bowl and line it with a cheesecloth.  Pour half of a quart of yogurt into the sieve, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight to drain.
2. Discard the liquid, and measure out 2 cups of strained yogurt (you’ll yield a bit over 2 cups, save the remaining for other uses).
3. For the passion fruit syrup, combine the passion fruit pulp and combine ½ cup of sugar in a small saucepan and boil over medium-heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and let cool.
4. Combine 2 tbsps of milk with 2 tbsps with cornstarch to make a smooth slurry.
5. In a saucepan, combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
6. Remove from heat and whisk in the cornstarch slurry.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and stir with a spatula until the mixture slightly coats the spatula.  Remove from heat.
7. Gradually whisk the strained yogurt and passion fruit syrup into the milk mixture and mix until smooth.
8. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziplock freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in an ice bath until cold, about 30 minutes.
9. Pour the yogurt mixture into the frozen canister of your ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
10. Spin until thick and creamy about 25-30 minutes.
11. Pack the frozen yogurt into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid.  Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

A Different View of San Francisco

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Fort Mason Center

Lombard Street

Bay Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Picture of the day: the rope

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Slice of San Francisco: The Ferry Building

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

If you’re a foodie, a farmer’s market aficionados, or artisan food enthusiast, the Ferry Building is a must stop.  The Ferry Building is one of my favorite places to visit whenever I’m in the city.  Saturday is the best time to stop by because a larger farmer’s market is held both in front of the Ferry Building and on the rear plaza overlooking the bay compared to a smaller market on Tuesday or Thursday.  In addition to the market vendors offering fresh farm products and artisan foods, residing inside the building are more fabulous cafes and eateries as well as purveyors of fine foods.  You can easily spend an entire afternoon here.  

These cherries were so sweet!

Roli Roti's famous porchetta sandwich

The line is always long for Roli Roti and everything gets sold out by 1 P.M.

Blue Bottle Cafe 

The barista accidentally made an extra cup of coffee for the customer in front of us so mine was free.

I ordered the prosciutto cotto with provolone and whole grain mustard which tasted way better than the sandwich I had ordered at Tartine.

The strawberry macaron is my favorite!  I love the light strawberry cream.

Heath Ceramics

I love their dinnerware.  All hand-made.  Just beautiful.