Here at twothirtyate, Jane and I like to give you lots of quick and easy recipes that we often cook for weeknight meals. Be warned, this is not one of those meals. In fact, this is the polar opposite of one of those meals. Momofuku ramen is a dish so worth it though that, if you’re feeling up to the task, you should take a whole day to make this broth. On the bright side, it does make 10 servings so all your labor does go a long way.
Perhaps you’ve never been to David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar and, if that’s true, you should plan it into your next trip to NYC. There’s a reason that there’s a line to get in when they open for dinner at 5 pm and a long wait for a seat all night long after that. They serve up ramen that is so delicious that you wind up eating long after you’re full just to get one more spoonful of delicious, rich broth. They also serve delicious steamed pork buns, scallion noodles and a handful of other menu items that are all delicious. But it’s really all about the ramen.
We’ve been to Noodle Bar a few times and I’ve been meaning to make this ramen broth for a long time. I’ve read about how it’s for culinary overachievers, that it takes all day, and that it’s worth every hour. All of this is true. This broth isn’t difficult to make. In all honesty, it’s mostly adding things to the pot and removing them at the right time, adding more water, and making sure it doesn’t simmer too hard. It’s more a test of patience than anything. If you have a day to sit at home, though, I suggest it highly.
What do you do once you have the broth made? Pour it over some ramen noodles. I used fresh ones that I found in Chinatown. I also topped it with squares of nori (seaweed), fish cake (the pink and white food that Alex and I have long wondered what it is), some seasoned bamboo shoots, pickled shiitakes, a seasonal green vegetable, a poached egg, and pork belly. At Momofuku they usually have shredded pork shoulder in there, too, but I used the shredded chicken from making the broth instead. I barely own a bowl big enough for all of those things, so my next bowl might be a little more sparse as to make room for more noodles.
2 3X6 inch pieces of kombu (dried kelp)
6 quarts of water
2 cups dried shiitakes, rinsed well
4 pounds chicken legs
2 1/2 pounds pork bones
1 pound smoky bacon
1 bunch scallions
1 medium onion, cut in half
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
Taré (or equal parts kosher salt, soy sauce and mirin to taste)
Bring the kombu and water to a boil in a large stock pot. Turn off the heat and let the kombu soak for 10 minutes. Remove the kombu, discard it, and add the shiitakes to the pot. Bring to a boil again, then reduce the heat to a slow simmer. Cook the shiitakes for 30 minutes. Remove the shiitakes. Add the chicken to the broth and cook for 1 hour. Skim any fat off of the surface of the broth and add more water to the pot as needed. You want the water to completely cover the chicken.
While the chicken is cooking, place the pork bones on a tray in the oven at 350 degrees. Cook for 1 hour, flipping over after 30 minutes. When the chicken has cooked long enough that the meat can easily be shredded, remove it from the pot. Add the pork bones and the bacon. Continue cooking at a slow simmer. You want just the occasional slow bubble to break the surface. After 45 minutes, remove the bacon. Continue to simmer the bones for 6-8 hours. Continue to skim the surface and add water when needed. In the last 45 minutes, add the vegetables.
When the broth has finished cooking, pour it through a fine strainer or through cheese cloth. Add tare or the kosher salt, soy sauce, and mirin mixture (you’ll want about 2-3 tablespoons combined per quart). This is the main seasoning for the broth, so add it to your liking, making sure to taste occasionally to avoid over-salting. The amount will vary based on how much broth you end up with. The broth can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or you can cook it down until it reduces by half and freeze it in portions. When defrosted, add an equal part of water to the concentrated broth before serving.
Serve two cups of broth over fresh ramen noodles with an assortment of slices of fish cake, an egg, seasonal greens, mushrooms, pork belly, and nori.