Australians have for the last few decades been used to eating Japanese food, after all we consider our close proximity to Asia a greater influence these days than our early European settlement. For less related reasons both my grownup children are immersed in a Japanese world. Felix is studying Japanese in London and Frances is baking French cakes in a Japanese patisserie in Paris. Before that they were learning Japanese at school and we had Japanese exchange students to stay. Not surprisingly we all love Japanese food and I have run Japanese cooking classes here for adults and children with the help of a Japanese friend.
One of the most loved dishes in Japan is ramen, large bowls of soup filled with noodles. It is the ideal snack as well as one of those comforting foods. You are just as likely to get a delicious bowlful in Paris on rue Sainte-Anne as you are in Tokyo. Whilst you wait in these tiny ramen restaurants, you will be entertained by the cooks who prepare , with a mixture of flamboyance and concentration, every steaming portion in front of your eyes. The essential ingredient is a good potful of pork broth, made from simmering a piece of pork, ideally pork shoulder, which you have rubbed with salt and left to stand for several hours before gently poaching for 3 hours or more, with ginger and other root vegetables. Along with the noodles, and a slice of pork in each bowl, you can add lots of different ingredients to the soup. Top it with lightly cooked vegetables or a large prawn and finish off with chopped herbs, shiso if you can get it. Here is a simple version to get you started.
RAMEN – NOODLES with HOT SOUP serves 5
1.5 (3 pts) litres pork stock
1tbs chicken stock powder
salt and pepper
a bit of sugar
250g (9oz) spaghetti
sliced cooked pork
1 bag bean sprouts
Boil the pork stock and chicken stock powder together and adjust the flavour with soy sauce, salt, pepper and a bit of sugar.
Boil the noodles according to the packet’s instructions, then drain.
To serve put the soup in a big bowl and add the noodles. Slice some pork and add on top of the noodles. Rinse the beans sprouts in a colander with hot water and add.