Our travel series continues! This week we’re focusing on Japan and making Ramen from scratch. I’m trying my hand at making a more authentic version for my husband and myself and an Americanized version for the kids. Basically, theirs will be chicken noodle soup with ramen noodles. Our goal with this series is to introduce the kids to other cultures and countries.
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We had plans to attend the olympics in Japan this year and are pretty bummed that they were postponed and travel isn’t really an option right now. Bringing Japan to us in this way was fun though!
The recipe I’m sharing is for a more authentic ramen. For full recipe, see the recipe card inserted at the bottom of this post.
For the kids…
We basically used chicken broth and added garlic powder, onion powder and salt to taste. We cooked carrots in the broth and added chicken we sautéed once the carrots were almost cooked then let it cook all together for a couple of minutes. I boiled water in a separate pot and dropped fresh ramen noodles in for 3 minutes then drained and served with the chicken soup and garnished with bacon. It was a hit!
Some of our ingredients were found at our regular grocery store, but we had to visit our local Asian foods market for a few. Shopping at Fook’s Foods here in Athens, GA is so much fun for me. The staff is super friendly and helpful. The young lady that worked the register helped me pick out a few things to add to our ramen. They also helped me find a couple of ingredients I never would have found in our regular grocery store, fresh noodles being one of them.
Chicken. This turned out great! I bought three chicken breasts, sliced before cooking so it wouldn’t take so long, and seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. I sautéed it in olive oil and let it rest while the soup cooked. The end result was was enough flavor that it tasted good without overpowering the flavors of the soup.
Porkbelly. I was able to pick up some pork belly at Fook’s Foods, which is something my husband always orders in his ramen when we can eat in an actual restaurant that serves good ramen. It has never sounded great to me, but I wanted to try it in this recipe, mainly because it’s such a traditional protein in ramen. Honestly, I don’t know if I just don’t know how to cook it properly or what, but it turned out pretty bland. If I ever cook it again, I’ll need to do more research. I don’t foresee cooking it again though. This meat just isn’t for me.
Eggs. Soft boiled eggs are a must in ramen and we took it a step further by seasoning our eggs in a marinade for a few hours. Seasoned eggs are a traditional ingredient in ramen and easy to make. My instant pot makes fool proof soft boiled eggs and they’re much easier to peel than cooking them stovetop. For soft boiled eggs with firm whites on the outside and a runny yolk, I put 4 eggs in my 6 quart Instant Pot with one cup of water and cook on Pressure Cook High for 4 minutes. I release the steam (natural release will overcook the eggs in this instance) and immediately place eggs into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Peel and done!
To season, I place the eggs in a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, sake, and a couple more ingredients and chill in fridge at least 4 hours, but not more than 24 hours. I find that around 6-12 hours is best for my tastes. We let some chill for 24 hours and I noticed the whites of the eggs were a little tougher than I like. If you don’t have time to season your soft boiled eggs, don’t worry, non-seasoned are super yummy too! I’m still perfecting our marinade, but will share that recipe as soon as we get it just right.
In our ramen we added grated ginger, bok choy, green onion, cilantro and mushrooms for my husband. I loathe mushrooms and the good thing about ramen is that everything cooks so quickly, you can basically add your produce into each bowl and let the hot broth cook them through. I cooked the ginger and bok choy in the broth but next time I’ll just pour the broth over the bok choy in our noodle bowls, as cooking it in the broth caused it to become too wilted. I like my veggies on the firmer side.
There are a few options here. We discovered fresh ramen noodles at Fook’s Foods in the refrigerated section. They’re sold in individual packets and all you have to do is boil some water and drop the noodles in for 3 minutes. So easy and so quick! If your broth is hot enough, you could just put your raw noodles in a bowl and pour the broth over it, allowing it to sit for 3-5 minutes before eating. This is probably what I’ll do next time just to skip the step of boiling a separate pot of water for the noodles.
You can also find boxed dried ramen noodles in most grocery stores. I’ve used this many times and they’re great! The box I buy comes with 4 servings, each packaged in their own separate plastic baggies. They take just a little longer than fresh noodles to cook, but only a few minutes more.
After draining the ramen noodles, I placed a serving of noodles in each bowl then topped the noodles with proteins and veggies. Then I poured the broth over the noodles and toppings and tucked in some dried seaweed and topped with cilantro. All toppings are optional and it’s easy to build your own ramen, so I left off mushrooms from my bowl and my husband isn’t crazy about cilantro so he left that out of his.
We have a couple of noodle bowls we’ve purchased from local ceramicists for my husband and I so we used those. Of the two bowls we have currently, one works great for ramen because it’s a deeper bowl but the other is more triangular in shape and works best for dry noodle dishes. Too much liquid spills out easily from the latter.
I have commissioned three more bowls from a ceramicist friend of mine (one for me in pink and two kid-size ones for the boys in colors they’ll like) and I am so excited to get these in! We eat ramen regularly, so having legit ramen bowls will be so nice! Jackie sent me these pics of the bowls while they were drying enough to cut the chopsticks slots. I’ll be sharing our new bowls on the blog as soon as they arrive! I can’t wait to see the kid-sized noodle bowls especially!
We served our ramen with green tea and a Kirin Ichiban. So good! The boys had Ramuné, a traditional soft drink in Japan. They both preferred the Lychee as it wasn’t quite as sweet as the Strawberry. The strawberry flavor reminded me of red cream soda!
Overall, we really really enjoyed this dish! We’re still working on perfecting our seasoned eggs, so I’ll share a recipe for that once we nail the right marinade down. I love that we can all easily build our own ramen bowls and that a dish from another country is becoming a regular in our house. This would be a perfect dish to use leftover grilled or rotisserie chicken in or you could thaw out some frozen shrimp and quickly sauté it for the protein. Or easily make vegan or vegetarian ramen with just a few substitutions. This fast, flexible, delicious dish is definitely one worth keeping.
Let me know if you give this recipe a try! I’d love to know if you try it at home.
xoxo – Hannah
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- Instant Pot
- 4 eggs
- ½ lb chicken breast
- ½ lb pork belly
- 1 onion
- 2 bunches bok choy
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 8 shitake mushrooms
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 stalks green onions chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup rice vinegar
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp sriracha
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 6 oz fresh ramen noodles
- Soft boiled eggs: In an Instant Pot, place 4 eggs on rack in pot and add 1 cup water. Clode lid and set to Pressure Cook High for 4 minutes. Release steam as soon as 4 minutes are up. Remove eggs with tongs and place in ice bath to stop cooking process. Peel and serve as is or marinade for 4-24 hours before serving.
- Meat: Heat olive oil in a pan and brown pork belly and chicken. I seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper. Once cooked, remove from pan and let rest while cooking the ramen.
- Soup: In a dutch oven or soup pot, saute chopped onion in 1 tbsp olive oil until onion is translucent then add chopped garlic into pan. Toss in thick part of bok choy once garlic is fragrant.
- Pour in all liquids and fresh grated ginger and heat through.
- Noodles: In a separate pot, bring water to a boil and cook fresh pasta for 3 minutes. Drain then place noodles in bowls.
- Place bok choy and meat on top of noodles and pour broth over. Let sit for 2 minutes or until bok choy is tender.
- Place remaining vegetables and toppings on top of ramen and enjoy!