Easy Homemade Ramen Broth

Making that magical-mystical ramen broth of your Tampopo dreams at home is a fairly long and involved process of coaxing richness, flavor and texture from lots of ingredients including but not limited to the kinds of meat scraps and bones you're probably not likely to have on hand most days.

But that doesn't mean you can't make a really good (and easy) ramen broth at home with whatever stock you've got on hand and some fairly accessible aromatic components.

To mimic that generally "Oriental" flavor (I think it's funny that Asians in Asia still use that term and that it's the rest of us who get PC and indignant about it), the minimum you'll need is stock, onion, garlic, ginger, carrot, celery, and soy sauce. And that'll do a plenty good job of making your basic homemade version of instant ramen broth.

Other appropriate nice-to-haves that will add richness, depth and complexity and take your broth to the next level are things like:

- daikon radish, parsnips, turnips
- mushrooms (shiitakes are great, but you could also use buttons or criminis, which are accessible just about everywhere)
- green onions, leeks, shallots
konbu or dashima, both dried kelp products, for flavor and body
- katsuobushi, hon dashi, a little dash of fish sauce
- a little mirin for sweetness...

which I've grouped according to general flavor profiles. Clearly, some are more typical or native to Japanese cuisine than others, but ingredients from the same family do often tend to impart a similar flavor and character to a dish.

Dashi, which often includes konbu and katsuobushi, is a Japanese mother stock that you would likely have on hand as a base for your ramen broth if you cooked Japanese food regularly. But if you did, you'd probably be reading something much more authentic and esoteric about ramen broth making than anything I could have to say about it. ;)

The list could easily be expanded, but I'll leave it at that for now. You can tinker with the very basic recipe below, adding other suggested elements as you like, keeping in mind a good balance of the contribution each ingredient will bring to your broth.

And as this is supposed to be an easy recipe, storebought unsalted stock is just fine, but homemade is always great. If using homemade, and you tend to add lots of bones to your stock such that it sets like jello once completely cooled and refrigerated, you might consider a 2/3 stock, 1/3 water ratio for your liquid.

Easy Homemade Ramen Broth

Serves 4 to 6
Time: About 90 minutes total, 30 minutes active

- 2 teaspoons oil
- 2 medium carrots, cut into thirds
- 1 whole yellow or white onion, unpeeled and quartered
- 2 stems celery, cut into thirds
- 8 cloves garlic, unpeeled and slightly crushed
- a 1.5-inch piece of ginger root, cut into 5 or 6 slices
- 12 cups unsalted stock (chicken, pork, turkey, beef, veg, or any combination thereof will work)
- 4 Tablespoons of soy sauce and/or miso
- 1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar

On the day I took these pics, I also added a half bunch of green onions, 4 dried shiitakes and a small handful of dashima because I happened to have them on hand.

1) Pan roast your carrot, onion, celery, garlic and ginger by preheating your pan and oil to medium and letting the aromatics sit on one side for 7 to 10 minutes, or until they get some good caramelization on them. Flip/Redistribute and repeat.

Alternatively, toss them all in the oil and roast in a preheated 425F oven for about 25 minutes.

This is an optional step, but one that I like to do if I have the time because it brings out a sweeter, deeper and more developed flavor from the aromatics.

2) Put all the aromatics and the stock in a large pot, bring to a boil over medium high with lid on askew, let it boil for about a minute, then turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for about an hour.

3) Add your soy sauce and/or miso, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and stir into the stock until thoroughly and evenly incorporated, or until all miso has dissolved if you're adding miso. If you're making this broth for kids who aren't familiar with miso, I suggest going all soy sauce.

If you like your broth a little more salty, I suggest using more kosher salt rather than soy sauce or miso to up the salt flavor without overwhelming your broth with soy sauce or miso flavor.

If your aromatics aren't particularly sweet, and you need to round out the flavors or take a little edge off the saltiness or bitterness of the soy sauce or miso, add a little more sugar to taste.

4) Continue to simmer the broth on low with lid on askew for another 10 to 15 minutes, strain, and that's it!

And since this recipe is about easy ramen broth, I suggest using your instant ramen noodles or premade plain ramen noodles boiled al dente in lightly salted water for your noodles. Making good ramen noodles from scratch is by no means an easy task.

Easy toppings include sliced storebought or homemade roast chicken, pork or beef, poached or boiled eggs, cold cuts, mushrooms, canned bamboo shoots, sliced green onions, veg odds and ends that you can slice up and lightly blanch in the broth as you're heating it up... 

Endless possibilities, really. I'm sure you've probably already got some great doctored ramen ideas up your sleeve.

Here are some of mine:

Roasted Chicken Breast, Fresh Oyster Mushrooms,
Green Onions, Shichimi Togorashi

Poached Egg, Boiled Pork Shoulder,
Matsutake Mushrooms, Green Onions,
Shichimi Togorashi, Bamboo Shoots (in the broth)

And yet more of my usual doctored instant ramen ideas HERE.

Enjoy. :)




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