RAMEN KAONASHI is currently serving as a Recipe Partner at Ramen Hero. As an experienced ramen chef, he will introduce us to Japanese ramen trends and even share some of his favorite recipes. If you are interested in his other content, check out his Blog and YouTube Channel!
The recipe I will introduce here is Japanese Shoyu Ramen with a flavor of katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). The soup is made from chicken and katsuobushi, the shoyu tare which is made from kelp and dried shiitake mushrooms and negi oil with a savory flavor. Ramen is composed of five elements overall: soup, tare, oil, noodles, and toppings. This video also includes recipes for chashu and seasoned eggs, so you can learn how to make all the elements of ramen by watching this video.
However, this video is catered towards a more advanced audience, so it may take some time to understand if you do not have any knowledge about ramen or cooking techniques. In particular, making the noodles is an arduous process. Therefore, we will focus on the soup and explain it in detail. The ingredients and method for chicken soup (broth) are shown below.
- 1pc Whole Chicken
- 1/2pc Yellow Onion
- Small piece of Ginger
- Small piece of Garlic
- 1pc Carrot
- 1pc Celery
- 10-20g Katsuoboshi (Fish Flakes)
Chop chicken into smaller pieces for boiling
In a large pot, add water (2 to 2.5L) until chicken is fully covered and heat
When water starts boiling, remove scum and simmer 2 hours
Add remaining ingredients into soup and continue to simmer for 1 hour
Stop fire and remove chicken from the soup
Bring remaining soup to a boil again, add katsuoboshi and stop the fire to soak for 5 min
Strain Chicken soup into a bowl which is placed into an ice bath to cool and set aside
Tips for food prep
Firstly, let's look at the main ingredient, the whole chicken.
In most cases, chicken bones, called "Tori Gara", are used to make chicken-based soup. Chicken legs, which are rich in collagen, are also often added. If whole chickens are used, the edible parts of meat are also added to the soup. This is a very extravagant way to use all the flavor of the chicken in the soup. Of course, you can also transfer all of the umami of the chicken to the soup, but you can also take it out after boiling moderately, season it, and taste it on its own. You can season it with salt and pepper, or marinate it in soy sauce and put thin slices on your ramen.
Chicken wings and legs are essential for soups. When making soup based on chicken bones, chicken legs are often also added all together. This is because these parts contain a lot of collagens. Once the soup is chilled, it hardens into a jelly-like substance because of the collagen. By having the collagen dissolve into the soup, an even richer texture is obtained.
Aromatic vegetables are also often used in ramen soups. In this recipe, onions, carrots, ginger, garlic and celery are used. These vegetables help to add sweetness or remove the odor of the soup. A common addition in a similar role would be green onions. Apples are also sometimes added for sweetness.
Umami is key role
Katsuobushi has a key role in this recipe adding flavor and umami. Katsuobushi is made by processing the meat of the bonito. It is roasted and dried in the process and is characterized by its smoky flavor and its richness in inosinic acid. When using katsuobushi as an ingredient for soup, they are shaved before use. In most cases, these flakes are sold shaved. Katsuobushi used in this video is called "Hana-katsuo," and is shaved very thinly. This is excellent for bringing out flavor and umami in a short amount of time. However, caution is required, as if it is cooked for too long, it tends to lose its flavor.
Let's take a look at each step
The first step
The first step is cutting the chicken. In reality, when ramen chefs use whole chickens, it is not uncommon to use them without cutting. If you are using several whole chickens in a large pot, it would be easier to put them in without cutting to remove them afterwards. However, if you are using a small pot like this one, it may be easier to divide the chicken into smaller pieces. It is also useful to pre-cut the thighs and breasts for reuse in other dishes. In this case, you can boil the meat sections for a shorter time than in the recipe. This is because the flavor is extracted more quickly from the meat than from the bones.
The second step
The second step is how to remove the scum. When whole chickens are heated, elements such as the blood and other odors solidify and are released as scum. By removing this, it is possible to make a clear tasting, odorless soup. However, it is important to note that this step is very delicate. The first step is adjusting the heat when the scum is being extracted. If the heat is too low, the scum will not be extracted enough, but if the heat is too high and the soup boils, the scum will spread all throughout the soup and cause it to become cloudy. Also, the amount of scum removal will depend on what kind of soup you want to make.
The third step
The third step is to add the aromatic vegetables. As you can see in the video, the vegetables are cut into relatively large pieces before being added. It is true that cutting them into smaller pieces is more suitable for boiling. However, in this recipe, the flavor of the vegetables is only complementary. In fact, if you overcook them, the vegetables will dissolve and cause the soup to become cloudy. Therefore, there is no need to cut the vegetables into small pieces here. The only thing to keep in mind is to use the ginger with the skin on. The skin of the ginger contains a lot of aromatic substances, so it should be used as is when adding it to the soup.
The chicken is removed before adding katsuobushi in order to fully extract the flavor and the umami of katsuobushi. The katsuobushi used in this recipe are shaved thinly to increase the surface area and so make it easier to extract the umami and flavor. In order to get the most out of it, it needs to be soaked in the broth as much as possible. Of course, the vegetables as well as the chicken can be removed at this step. In any case, be sure to remove the chicken and vegetables carefully so that they do not fall apart.
The final step
Now, for the final step of adding katsuobushi. The important thing here is to turn off the heat after adding the katsuobushi. The thinly shaved katsuobushi will become soggy and lose its flavor if you begin to boil them at a temperature that is too high. When you are making the soup, you will likely be surrounded by the delicious aroma of katsuobushi. However, this means that the flavor of katsuobushi has been released. If you want to enjoy it to the fullest when eating the ramen, it is important to keep it locked in the soup.
Quickly cooling the soup after straining is also necessary to lock in the flavors of katsuobushi. When the soup is warm, the flavors will be released rapidly. Lowering the temperature will prevent this from happening. When making ramen, the soup needs to be reheated, but care must be taken when doing so. The soup contains gelatin and is jelly-like, so if you heat it over a high heat, the dissolved parts will evaporate immediately and the aroma will change. It is best to heat it slowly until the whole thing melts, then increase the heat until it boils.
Do you want to try to cook?
As a side note, the recipe for this soup does not have specific amounts of ingredients. What this means is that it is not always necessary to measure the ingredients exactly, especially for soup. When making ramen, there are many other factors to consider that are not listed in the recipe. For example, the quality of chicken and vegetables will never be exactly the same. Also, each person will have their own tastes and preferences for the flavors of each ingredient. If you are willing to take on the challenge of making the soup again and again, you can decide this recipe yourself. Once you've made the soup, you can use it as a basis to rework the recipe to your own liking. Want more flavor from the katsuobushi? Do you want to add more ginger for a cleaner flavor? The recipe here is not the goal, it is just a starting point for the ramen you can seek. Therefore, please do not focus too much on strict measurements. However, it is a good idea to measure the tare and oil accurately. It is especially important to measure the salt concentration accurately.