A Farmer’s Ramen

05 Dec 2012

I am constantly searching for role models or examples or just mere kindred spirits that I can learn from, be inspired by, be comforted with a feeling of being less of a stranger in this world of rural living, or to just plain witter on with about the fact that chicken plucking is grissly work. 

Our kind neighbours have been here for generations. They are lovely, but country living is not new to them. My experience is very different. As much as I embrace it this lifestyle, I admit that there are days that I double-damn the notion that I can’t just walk out my door and down the street with my family for a steaming hot bowl of Pho, a 10-minute freshly wood-fired pizza, the perfect donut that someone else made, potato latkes from the Jewish deli, or to be perfectly honest, a grande soy “holiday spiced” latte that hails from a certain mammoth coffee chain. The longer I am here I recognize that the upside to not having those conveniences is that I appreciate it all so much more when I do spend time in the city. {That girl jumping up and down for joy waiting for takeaway at Cecil’s?  Me!}

Then, I stumble upon a memoir…discover a blog….meet a person…whom shares a similar lifestyle, and if I am lucky, a remarkable recipe that widdles down my bouts of whinging.

This time the recipe is: ramen.

And, the person is: Nancy Hachisu. A kindred soul living on the other side of the world. A woman moved to a new country for the food and ended up falling in love with a farmer.

I love her story, a flipflop of ours, but more importantly, I am thankful that she has shared a beautiful, time-honoured recipe for ramen with me the world.

Using freshly plucked chicken(s) from the farm and as many home-grown + local ingredients as possible, we followed Nancy’s recipe.

Is there anything better than a steaming bowl of homemade ramen?

I think not.

We ladled up. I closed my eyes, took one slurpy mouthful and was instantly transported to my favourite noodle bar in NYC. It was better than a scene out of Tampopo. It made me cry.

From a farm in Japan to a farm in Ireland, I give you-

Ramen At Home

{Make sure you have tissues}

Recipe from Japanese Farm Food, by Nancy Hachisu

Serves 4.

For the broth:

2 carrots, cut into 1 inch lengths

2 small Japanese leeks, or 4 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1 inch lengths

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

4 bone-in free-range chicken thighs (or 8 wings)

1 tsp sea salt

2 TBS rapeseed or sesame oil

For the noodles:

TBS sesame oil

2 c. flour

2 eggs, at room temperature

2 egg yolks, at room temperature

For the toppings:

4 eggs

1 small bunch chopped bitter greens, such as bok choy or kale

3 TBS finely chopped Japanese leeks or scallions

1 sheet nori, cut into eights

Soy sauce, miso, or sea salt (to taste)

Make the broth.  Preheat the oven to 450°F.  Place carrots, leeks/scallions, ginger, and chicken thighs in a roasting pan, and toss with salt and oil.  Roast for 40 minutes.  Pour chicken, veggies, and all the juices into a large stockpot, and cover with 16 cups of cold water.

Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.  After 1 hour, remove the lid.  Take out 2 of the chicken thighs and place in a small bowl.  Cover the thighs with hot broth and let cool to room temperature, then shred.  Continue simmering the remaining broth for another 30-60 minutes, until it is reduced to about 8 cups.  Strain broth into a clean pot and keep warm over low heat.  Discard vegetables and remaining chicken thighs.

Make the noodles: mix 2 TBS of the sesame oil into the flour with your fingers until it is crumbly.  Add eggs and egg yolks and stir with your hand until incorporated, then knead on a flat, clean surface for 5 minutes until the dough is pliable but stiff.  The dough takes some force to really work it into a pliable piece.  Let dough rest 10 minutes. 

Roll out the noodle dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch using a pasta machine or a heavy rolling pin.  Cut into linguine-sized noodles by hand with a pizza cutter, sharp knife or by using a pasta machine.

Prepare the toppings: bring a large pot of water to a boil over high-heat. Add the eggs and boil for exactly 7 minutes, then remove with a strainer and place directly into a bowl of ice-cold water.  Let cool, then peel.  In the boiling water, blanch the bitter greens until just tender, then add to the cold water with the eggs.  Keep the water boiling – you will use it to cook your noodles just before serving.

Once the broth, noodles, and toppings are ready, prepare the bowls: add a small amount of miso, soy sauce, or salt to each bowl (according to diner’s preference) and pour a ladleful of hot broth over the seasoning.  Stir the broth into the seasoning.  Divide the shredded chicken amongst the bowls.  Drop the noodles into the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes – they will float up to the top when they are done.  Remove the noodles with a strainer and divide among the bowls.  Top off each bowl with a few more ladlefuls of hot broth, 1 egg cut into halves, a handful of the cooked greens, some of the nori pieces, and a sprinkling of scallions.

Serve very hot, with extra seasoning as desired.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell 2012. Ramen noodle cutting by Richard McDonnell + the slurping schoolboy is Geoffrey McDonnell. This post is not sponsored in any way by Nancy Hachisu or her publisher, but I love it, and would urge you to find the book if Asian or farm food interests you…it is really special. PS. Thank you Laila for introducing it to me!

 

 

 

 

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37 Responses to “A Farmer’s Ramen”

  1. Sam says:

    I have made this recipe twice, and it is very good but I keep on having the same problem. My noodles are coming out rubbery. I thought the first time that I had overworked my dough but the second time I did not work it as much and they are still rubbery. Do you know how I can fix this?

  2. Jobogo says:

    This recipe looks fab-oo, But I have a question… How does one acquire RAPESEED OIL ? 🙂 Thanks.

  3. […] (Adapted from The Farmette) […]

  4. Niamh says:

    Such a lovely post! I adore ramen and will be sure to check out the book 🙂

  5. kale says:

    aww, i was thinking of Tampopo from the word “ramen”. 🙂 It is so true that not having things at your fingertips heightens the experience when you finally get to taste them once more! And nothing beats a steaming bowl of noodles.

  6. Imen –thank you for this beautiful post. I love the idea of our mirrored lives though if truth would be told I dreamed of France or Ireland, not Japan. But Japan it is and Japan does fit me in some very odd way. In the rigidity is order that allows the creative people to just do whatever the hell they want. They are outside of the system. I love that. And yes, the ramen we make is one that works for us, focussing on the excellent ingredients and not over thinking the alkaline noodle issue or pork bones in the broth. Katie if you are listening, I loved your post and give-away idea as well. I’m not sure if I commented (perhaps not) but I think I posted to Facebook. This has all been a catch up game after the I got back to Japan in the last days of October. I had been gone on the book tour for 2 months so had to sooth the ruffled feathers of my long-suffering husband, Tadaaki. I almost missed this …. don’t know why Mr. Google didn’t give me the heads up. You may find me at your doorstep yet. -Nancy

  7. Fig + Fauna says:

    Thank you kindly for the shout out ~ what an amazing looking dish! I will be sure to try it!

  8. I have never made ramen or udon for the very same reason you mentioned at the beginning of this post: convenience. I just need to literally cross the street and have all sorts of Asian noodles to my disposition (and boy, after 7yrs in Asia, I have become adicted to noodles). But on the other side, I also feel related to that feeling of being a bit off with the local community/lifestyle. I could sell an arm for a warm homemade tamal or a nice plate of enchiladas. So, I think although not so teary, you put me in good nostalgic mood, chica.
    I´ll promise I will try to make some ramen at home. You have inspired me too.
    besos

    ps. love the photos of your `culinary brigade´;-)

  9. Donna Baker says:

    I am new to your blog, but am thankful that I found it. The pho sounds incredible. The noodles, did you cut them perfectly equidistant? I am teasing. This almost sounds like making tamales in the southern U.S. and in Mexico. Takes more than one or it will take all day to make. I tried tamale making once. This looks much better I must admit. Also, loved the hay ice cream. Am going to try it next year. Love your blogging.

  10. Shu Han says:

    this reminds me of a fresh pasta recipe though.. not complaining, fresh noodles are lovely no matter what! yum!

  11. Annie says:

    Serial lurker de-cloaking for the first time.

    This recipe looks incredible. I’ve never made ramen before. I did notice that the noodles were quite thick. It almost looks like udon (which I also adore). Would you happen to know if this is a region-specific ramen noodle?
    My husband usually travels to Yokohama about 7 times a year and he says that the best ramen place is located in the subway station. But their noodles is very thin.

    I totally understand about missing food from ‘home’. I’m a New England transplant in San Francisco. I totally miss real bagels, lobster rolls (with the butter please!), and fried dough. My husband has declared that we can NEVER move away from the SF Bay Area because he cannot give up his steaming bowl of pho!

    Can’t wait to make this! Thank you for the recipe.

    • imen says:

      Hi Annie, I think my husband cut the noodles a bit thick. They are supposed to be linguine size. They still taste amazing. Nearly as good as the noodle shop! Thanks for lurking and for leaving a message here, nice to hear from you =) xx

  12. Sarah L says:

    I didn’t realize you were from the Twin Cities! I’m a St Paul native myself who recently moved to the suburbs. Mmmm . . . Cecils’s. I LOVE that place. I’m a big fan of the Monte Cohen with cole slaw although the potato salad is out of this world too. And don’t even get me started on the hamantaschen. Yum!

    • imen says:

      YUP! OMG I LOVE THE MONTE COHEN!!! And, yes, don’t get me started on the hamantaschen either! Oy VEY! THanks for your comment.

  13. I so enjoy your posts – they are written from the heart – you make me feel exactly what you are feeling! I often wonder what I will miss when we are over there – I do know I won’t be able to write about it as well as you do – maybe ill just stick with photos then! Glad you kept the chicken in!

    • imen says:

      Photo storytelling is so magical and simple……by all means, please do share your experience with us Elizabeth! x

  14. Oh, it’s beautiful story, recipe and photos.
    I wonder how would you feel if you got back to city life. Would you miss plucking chicken?
    I’m small town girl and I find it hard not to want all advantages from place where I live.
    I would love to read more about your daily inspiration, maybe it’s good idea for a blog series.

    • imen says:

      Thanks Magda, always love your suggestions and thoughts….was lovely to meet you in Dublin. Hopefully, we’ll meet again at another foodie get together. Imen x

  15. Beautiful post and pictures like always Imen! Ramen is a bit like the Pici I told you about, only that Pici is eaten with a sauce. How lovely you found a kindred spirit. I too have found that finding a kindred spirit often is someone who lives quite far away. Luckily thanks to social media, I can ‘see’ my kindred spirits as often as I want. Love the picture of the chicken 😉

    • imen says:

      Thank you Regula..pici sounds like the best! I agree with the social media. Would love to meet you IRL some day! x

  16. Krista says:

    Ohhhh, I sure understand this. 🙂 Especially on days like Monday when I so proudly donned a pretty new sundress I had altered only to have to rush outside for an emergency poop-shoveling moment. An hour later with manure on my bare feet and hands but miraculously NOT on my pretty new dress, I smiled. 🙂 I love this life, but sometimes it is just plain hard. 🙂

    • imen says:

      HA! Been there…but I don’t dare wear dresses around here anymore. Maybe I should though. Thanks for your comments, you too feel like a kindred spirit to me Krista! xoxo

  17. This is perfect timing, Imen! My next project was to find/figure out an amazing ramen recipe. I’m going to try this one. It looks delicious!

  18. STUNNING pictures. and the ramen sounds pretty perfect, too!

  19. Katie says:

    I just made Nancy’s ramen a few weeks back. Initially I was daunted by all the steps, but I stuck with it and was rewarded with a bowl much more comforting and perfect than I had imagined.

    • imen says:

      There are a lot of steps…but they are all so easy! It is SO DIVINE to me. Thanks for your comment xoxo

  20. Kristin says:

    I’ve never seen R with a beard before! Oh, and the ramen looks good too. 😉

    While I don’t live on a farm, I know what you mean about looking for kindred spirits for comfort. Reading Luissa Weiss’s memoir recently at M’s swimming lesson, I was wiping away tears because parts of it resonated with me so much.

    • Catherine says:

      Heh, I was just about to comment on R’s beard too! It suits him very well.

      And the ‘transporting’ kind of food is the best kind of all. Even the simplest dishes can be made powerful, and personal.

      • imen says:

        I love the beard…love both ways actually..but many of our Irish friends don’t like it! And, his mother..oy vey, she hates it. Yes, this book and recipe and bowl of soup transported me in the best way. Still get all emo thinking about it. Thanks for the note Catherine…so happy for you! xoxox

    • imen says:

      Do you like the beard? Getting mixed reviews =) He looks good no matter what to me…but I’m his wife! I must get her book…will order now. Thanks for the reminder. And thanks for the comment. xoxo

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