Salutations and welcome to another adventure into the realms of flavor superior. Today I’ll be your guide to the world of the spice supreme, that's right, it is I, Joe-sama. You mere mortals may refer to me as Joe-kami, if you prefer.
I’m sure this all makes more sense in the original Japanese dub.
What’s that? ...You have no idea who I am? ...Where’s the funny guy that berates us and himself with humor? …This bit has gone on too long and was already overdone on this site when I started it?
Well don’t fret my naive underlings, all will be explained in time. All you need to know is I control the entertainment for this evening, and am definitely not the blithering drunk who appeared twice in the Oktoberfest special..*cough* As for where your usual host is, couldn’t tell you, probably hip deep in giblets and some sort of fancy mustard by now. Anywhoo
Today we are tackling one of the world’s greatest mysteries! Plato, Socrates, Nietzsche and that other guy that says everybody wants to bang their mother, all wracked their minds as to this one great question. How can I make ramen at home that looks just like The one in my animoo programming so I can impress my senpai?
Sigmund might have been too busy with his Oedipus fascination *shivers*
Fret no longer my humble otaku … otakus?… otaki?... many much multiple otaku! For I have the answer long thought beyond the scope of mortal man! After scouring case reports from the deepest libraries of wiki how I have discovered a terrible secret, one that might rock the otaku world to its very foundation should this news leave these hallowed pages. So dearest reader, should you not have the sheer gumption to follow this query to its bitter end, I invite thee to step off the blog now. What lies ahead of you is only for the most stalwart of souls!
The answer my dear viewer is: ramen is basically just Japanese chicken noodle soup, calm the $&@# down.
Sorry, I learned to cuss from from final fantasy 7. I’m sure it’s legible in the original. Anywhooo
You too can experience the raw pleasure that is a bowl of spicy noodles from the comfort of your very own home by following my step by step recipe and NOT DOING ANY OF THE THINGS I AM ABOUT TO DO. Let's get going!
Really stretching for that word count minimum huh there chief?
YOU WILL SPEAK WHEN SPOKEN TO YOU CAPTION TROLLOP! *Ahem* In order for us to talk about ramen we need to sit down, relax and get nice and plastered with a tall glass of history.
The word ramen heralds from the Chinese word Lamain, and the dish itself was originally referred to as Shina Soba. Quite literally meaning “Chinese Soba.” This leads us to the belief that it is originally Chinese in origin, although there is much contention amongst sources as to the true creators. Suffice to say it is an extremely recent dish in origin, only being around since the early 20th century. In its short lifespan it has soared into its rightful place as a staple food not only in Japan but also amongst the destitute college art majors of America (I think I still feel my arteries gasping from all the salt). Yet still that ultimate bowl of Ramen that's been scintillating in the back of our minds since we first watched blade runner at the impressionable age of 7 remains spectral beyond the veil of cooking prowess. Until today!
There are many different ways to go about making this fabled delicacy so let's break them down. Although they vary wildly by prefecture in their contents, the base can be limited to 4 main stocks: chicken, vegetable, Pork and miso (with the odd beef and fish thrown in). Chicken and vegetable are the most prolific, being common amongst older styles of Ramen. But since 1965 one stock has stood synonymous with the true Japanese ramen … “Miso”.
Now unfortunately for you and for me especially I know next to nothing about the fermented soy delight that is miso. As I contemplated the Herculean task before me of creating the ultimate bowl of shina soba, miso weighed on my mind. How was I, a simple mountain man running a comic book shop and doing pro bono graphic design on the side, going to procure and work with this mythic base known simply as Miso?
So I didn’t! What? You think I get paid enough to figure this shit out? I’m not even getting paid to do this.
Instead of the most obvious choices I went with vegetable and beef broths (because one was left in my kitchen from some other catastrophe and Rob Swanson is my hero, Thanks Jon!) The vegetable broth I hoped would add a subtle tang to the mix while the beef would add a welcome heartiness. I was of course wrong on both fronts but that is a tale for later on. Right now we need to talk beer.
Ramen is a dish to be served with beer. Without the delicious elixir that the Germans revere as liquid bread, ramen is just a bowl of hot bone drippings and boiled wheat paste. There are many options when it comes to beer to pair with our hot cow and bean water, but for me there is no better choice than the literal number one.
It’s like Somebody strained my real beer through used panties bought out of a vending machine and then watered it down!
Your impertinence has been noted italics jockey, you will pay for your disrespect! Even if I have to stake my whole career as a one time food blogger, I swear on the old gods and the new I will have my vengeance! Anydoodles
Before we start i’m going to go ahead and down half of this while my worried girlfriend makes casual remarks about alcoholism from the couch. I’m sure there’s no signs of habitual drinking with all the men whom write for this site… moving on.
Time to gather our ingredients for our adventure into heavily pre trodden soup territory. Clever readers who have gone on ahead and are only reading the captions and responses, will at this point notice that I have procured mushrooms, green onions, carrots, eggs, kale and bamboo shoots. They may also notice that I have forgotten two very important ingredients: fresh garlic and seaweed.
Yes dearest readers I, the overlord of your heart that you had just come to love and respect, have in my haste to get cooking completely flummoxed the ingredients. How can I possibly come back from this bone headed mistake? Well it’ll probably be easier than the ginger, soy sauce and chili oil that I also forgot to buy.
Hindsight is of course 50-50, 50 percent embarrassment and the rest awkward teenage angst.
I’m sure I don’t know what he’s talking about. Since we’ve already gone rogue with recipe (I was never following a recipe. why am I lying?) it’s time we decide on what to use for our noodles. It’s also time to take another trip down “long explanation of an inane fact” boulevard. Don’t hate the artist, hate the formula.
True Ramen noodles are very hard to find in America, because true ramen noodles are made with a special water known as Kansui. Kansui is an alkaline mineral water containing amounts of sodium carbonate, potassium carbonate and phosphoric acid in trace amounts. This water, much like the big breasted poison curing bird man named Garuda, is found in Mongolia. Now unless you have a secret passage over the Great Wall I can take to get my hands on this stuff, making the noodles from scratch is out of the question. The nearby grocery slingers only had yakisoba noodles which will become far too soft in our soup, and udon noodles taste like cat food (look it up, i’m not going to spoon feed you all night). So if we can’t have the best why not settle for the cheapest.
You do know that just because all the packaging says it’s number one doesn’t mean it’s true, right?
Now we have everything we need to at least make something that looks like ramen! Just show it to your sempai and don’t let them eat it. I find that most healthy relationship are based on fabrications!
Here we’ll comes the hard part, cutting the vegetables, heating the stock, boiling the eggs/noodles and gripping with the reality of death. Sorry that’s the Kirin talking. It should be noted at this time that I am fairly afraid of sharp implements, mostly power tools but occasionally knives as well. This is most likely due to all the times as a kid that I accidentally cut open my fingers while using random sharp implements to cut cardboard (I was a cute but simple child) Or possibly the time I was stabbed in the face with scissors by a little girl during my formative years. I’m sure Freud would still blame it on my mother somehow.
To keep a long story long it takes me a horrendous amount of time to cut vegetables, and with the girlfriend wrapped up in her stories we are struck with a vast ocean of time for me to fill with banter while I wince my way through a small platoon of green onion. Seriously could you take over i’m really just awful at cutting vegetables. *sigh*
To fill this time let's talk about shameless site promotion! we are a simple people here, a simple people that run on simple needs, like the need to keep this site ad free for you and future generations to enjoy. That’s why the brains behind this wonderful site have decided to setup a patreon account at -link- Your hard earned money slapped onto our well oil burned hands helps keep this site running and (because nothing is given for free...except my time) gets you access to exclusive content made by the other much more clever members of the crew! Even if you just want to know what all the hullabaloo is about go on over and check it out, your consideration means worlds to us.
Ok back to berating you with useless trivia, sad stories and bad jokes I promise.
Houston we have huevos
Those clever readers are back I can tell, and they’re wondering as to why i’ve boiled my eggs separately from the stock. Surely while heating the stock and boiling the vegetables I could simply poach the eggs. Thus saving myself the aggravation of splitting their “sacks” to remove the delicate oblong orbs housed within. Yes I was aware of the caption mans tasteless testical joke, and now we’re all clenching our proverbial legs at the imagery it has produced. Blame him not me.
Those clever readers should learn one thing about my household, my lovely partner hates runny yokes. And I have yet to master poaching an egg without spilling the golden ambrosia or simply under cooking it. So once again my lack of skill has fostered an improvisational tactic, doing the eggs separate and early then adding them back into the final pot finely sliced *wince*
At this point my hungry audience began to get restless as dinner was taking far longer than previously advertised. So more beer was given out to quell their hunger as we weave our way into the final stretch. It is at this point where all our mistakes coalesce glorious into the strangest dish I have ever produced.
I don’t get it, that looks perfectly delectable.
Correct my caption writing friend, and it smelled even better. At this point I thought to myself with a pleasant smirk stapled across my face “this is it joe, you’ve arrived at the promised land of flavor you dreamed of since boyhood”. I greedily began filling my bowl to take the first orgasmic bites and much to my surprise it was utterly… tasteless.
Seriously like no favor at all i’ve had sand with more zing.
I began panicking as I had already called over my hungry and wild eyed lady friend, and started heaping pepper, Sriracha sauce, dried ginger and anything else within reach to add some much needed flavor. But it was too late.
I stood dejected over my still simmering pot and began running laps through my grocery list, what had I forgotten when I theorized this dish the night before? Ahaa! I ran to the fridge and began peeling through the shelves and drawers for garlic and soy sauce. Garlic was no fly straight out of the gate, as I rarely work with it (mostly because I forget about) but in the very back corner of the fridge I found one tiny bottle of forgotten soy sauce (next to the oyster sauce and the ark of the covenant, you know “that” part of the fridge). I promptly dumped the entire bottle into the pot.
Thus the ramen was saved, and though without the chili oil and fresh ginger it lacks the spirit of the original concept (seaweed would have gone a long way as well to getting a more authentic taste) I can say that it felt good to sit down, gulp the last of my beer and feel the rush of delight as my normally spice adversed lady friend dumped a fair amount of sriracha into her bland bone drippings and vegetables.
I can say with utmost certainty that sempai would have noticed me, if only because I was screaming about ginger root and threw oyster sauce across the kitchen. Thanks for joining me on this unlikely adventure through culinary calamities… shit that's a much better title… don’t tell Jon!
NEXT TIME, IN THE EXCITING JOE-SAMA SAGA: MOUNTAIN SUSHI
Next on Kitchen Catastrophes: Jon Talks about Romance, which will in no way be weird at all!