Ramen. It’s a single word that conjures images of students and young newlyweds alike, united by their grumbling bellies and meager budgets. Most of us have been there, done that—myself included—and if you’re anything like me, you may have also done a happy dance when you finally said sayonara to your noodle heavy twenty dollar a week food budget. Despite my longstanding eagerness to eat something (anything!) other than what the Japanese refer to as gakusei ryori, or “student food”, years later I still find myself craving the salty, slurpy soup that got me through the leanest times in my life.
Fortunately for those of us nostalgic for ramen, it’s pretty hip these days! Made with fresh noodles, the giant bowls come garnished with everything from pork belly to pickled vegetables to quail eggs to kombu (AKA seaweed). Though delicious, these gourmet bowls can leave one asking, where has all of the cheap ramen gone? It turns out that the answer is closer than most of us would have ever guessed: it’s hiding in our own home kitchens!
With a few ingredients that you can buy at any well stocked grocery store (check Amazon if you can’t find miso), you can throw together a restaurant-worthy bowl in under an hour. Best of all, once you’ve made the broth, you can customize the bowls individually to make each one as healthy or as unhealthy as you’d like. That’s right. This homemade, veggie filled ramen can actually count as healthy…ish (those pesky fried noodles are the “ish”). For once, you’ll be able to have your cake ramen and eat it, too! If only those poor college students should be so lucky.
Pork and Miso Ramen
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup rice wine (or apple cider) vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 pound boneless pork chops
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 4 cups fish broth (I used a 32 ounce carton of store-bought)
- 4 cups chicken broth (homemade or a 32 ounce carton of store-bought)
- 2 tablespoons shiro (white) miso paste (you can find it on Amazon if your store doesn’t carry it)
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
- ½ pound (8 ounces) mung bean sprouts
- 1 pound (16 ounces) bok choy
- 1 bunch (approximately 10) scallions
- 3-3 ounce packages dried ramen, seasoning packets discarded
- 4 eggs, hard boiled or poached
- Sriracha for serving (optional)
Step 1: Make the marinade by combining ¼ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup vinegar, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and black pepper in a gallon sized zip top bag. Use a fork to poke holes in the pork chops. Add the holey pork to the bag with the marinade and allow the meat to marinate for 30 minutes.
Step 2: While the pork marinates, mix 4 cups of fish broth with 4 cups of chicken broth in a stock pot, then add 2 tablespoons miso paste, 1 teaspoon ginger, and ¼ cup soy sauce to the broth. Cover and bring to a simmer for 30 minutes. If making hard boiled eggs, cook them now and set aside.
Step 3: While the broth simmers, heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is warm, remove the pork chops from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Cook in the heated pan for 4-5 minutes, then flip; cook an additional 4-5 minutes, then remove the pork chops to a plate or plastic cutting board. Tent pork chops with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Step 4: While the pork is resting, wash the bean sprouts, bok choy, and scallions. Discard the roots from the bok choy and scallions. Slice the bok choy into ribbons; set aside. Cut the scallions into ¼ inch pieces; set aside. Thinly slice the pork; set aside. If you’re a worrywart, throw the pork into the broth to make sure that it’s one hundred percent cooked; there’s no shame in it, but it does change the texture of the pork. If making poached eggs, cook them now and (you guessed it!) set aside.
Step 5: Five minutes before serving, bring the broth up to the boil. Add the noodles to the boiling broth, being careful not to break up the ramen; slurping the noodles is half of the fun! Cook the ramen for 3 minutes or until the noodles are soft.
Step 6: Ladle the broth into soup bowls. Use chop sticks or a pasta server to add ramen to the bowls with the broth. Add pork to your bowl of noodles. Top the noodles with bok choy, bean sprouts, scallions, and egg. Don’t forget a squirt (or three) of Sriracha!
Serves 4 ramen lovers.