Recreating the ramen eating experience from our last trip to Japan is a quest for perfection. One can only aspire to come closer, reaching it is impossible. However it is possible to create something very tasty, nutritious and to bring the memories back. If ramen isn’t your thing (weirdo!), stay for the chicken broth recipe. A good broth has unlimited uses and I promise you there is a trick you haven’t heard of. Enjoy!
During the first COVID lockdown in 2020 our television provider was so nice to offer us a month of free premium channels. Of course the first thing I checked if I could find something like FoodNetwork and indeed, there was a cooking related channel (already forgot the name, sorry). And there I watched Heston Blumenthal, a true taste fanatic, demonstrating how to cook a proper chicken broth. And I was shocked. He used an ingredient I last saw at the Dubai airport on our first trip to Japan (ah, Japan again, the circle closes). Milk powder! He dusts the chicken with milk powder which helps caramelisation and naturally enhances its flavour. Genius!
Plain milk powder is not easy to get in Vienna. If you go to grocery stores you will rather find the milk powder preparations for baby and infants, which are expensive and plenty of stuff we do not need. A good source are either Asian or Turkish shops. Probably you can order it online too.
The only thing that bothers me is that nobody talks about what to do with the chicken meat after you boiled it for hours to extract its aroma. Throwing away meat is unacceptable and therefore I’ve come with an easy way to make use of it. The pulled chicken ramen was born.
for the stock:
- 1,5kg chicken wings
- 1 tbsp milk powder (yes, you’ve read that right)
- some “soup vegetables” like onions, carrots, celeriac, ginger and garlic (not needed, but worth it)
serving it up:
- a big piece of ginger (at least 5cm)
- one large onion
- a head of garlic
- 1 tbsp honey
- soy sauce to taste
- ~100g frozen peas per person
- 80-120g soba (or ramen) noddles per person
for the broth:
- Preheat your oven to 200°C.
- Put the chicken wings in a tight fitting roasting tray and sprinkle with the milk powder. Stir once so that the wings are evenly covered with milk powder. Don’t salt them!
- Roast in the oven until dark golden, about 30-40 minutes.
- Remove from the roasting tray and transfer to a (not too large) stock pot. Add a little water to the roasting tray and scrape all the sticky goodness from the bottom. Add to the stock pot and cover with more water.
- Put the lid on, bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for at least two hours, but longer is better (I’ve cooked them for a good 4 hours).
- In the last hour add your “soup vegetables”, if desired.
- Strain the chicken wings set aside and let cool down, we’ll use them later. Store the chicken stock in air tight containers for up to 5 days and freeze the rest.
serving it up:
- Now it’s time to pull the meat off the chicken wings. Don’t obsess over the tiny bones in the end of the wing, they are usually so soft due to the long cooking, that you don’t even notice them.
- Peel and finely chop the onion, garlic and ginger. Put a pan on moderate heat, add some cooking fat of your choice (sesame oil would be perfekt, but everything works) and slowly caramelise the onion, garlic, ginger mixture.
- Add the honey, let it melt, then add the pulled chicken meat and enough soy sauce to prevent it from drying out. Don’t overcook the meat now, set it aside once you are happy with the taste.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, season with salt and cook the noodles until al dente.
- Meanwhile heat the chicken stock (about 300ml per person) and season with salt and/or soy sauce.
- Warm some big bowls in the oven (about 70°C feels nice) so they aren’t cold when serving up.
- Prepare the frozen peas as the instruction reads. No reason to season them, the broth and chicken are spicy enough.
- When the noodles are done, strain them and divide on your bowls. Add the peas, broth and top with a generous serving of pulled chicken.
- Optional: garnish with cilantro or celery leaves, chili flakes and/or toasted sesame seeds.
To be hones, tracking this dish isn’t easy and you have to settle with a lot of educated guessing. Nobody can tell you the exact macro contents of your soup, so go for something that seems reasonable in your database. Log the pulled chicken as roasted chicken (maybe add a little olive oil, depending of how much you used for the preparation). Add peas and noddles depending on your serving size (that’s easy at least).