Sunday, June 5, 2011

. . . the plumpy food activist . . .


Okay, i'm not really that active in making food but apparently these past few weeks have been really productive in terms of making food from scratch... i don't actually know how it started. but the key recipe that ignited my food quest was probably from a simple dish Ramen, basically noodles in hot broth. i'm not talking about packet ramen either. thats a given simple instant food that normal growing up kids (and also grown-ups) eat in times of dire circumstances. for me, its a fast way of saving money and also curbing my hunger from buying meals around these parts (yeah, food in Swiss can really burn a hole in your wallet if you're not careful).

Price could also be a reason that greatly impacted a burning passion in me to come up with awesome recipes. well, to me that is. i don't dare yet to widely promote my ridiculous creations. but i must say, at most of the times i make them, i was greatly impressed on what i can do (FYI, i got none to praise me but myself... its my way of pushing myself to my own limits... hehehe). i had some good comments before... such as my stuffed chicken rolls. i could list out various reasons but frankly its just me filling in my time during the weekends.

lets start at the beginning, Ramen. i've always had cravings for it every single time i feast on instant noodles. oh yeah, its not a sad sight nor thought that i eat instant noodles, apparently i eat them once a week at most. but usually it comes in handy when i'm short of cash. personally, when i am lazy to cook, hehe...

curiosity is an awesome state of mind, it can lead to victory or your doom. so far, it hasn't failed me yet. its like an addictive drug which fuels my mind, body and soul. its a push to my bodily movements (sounds kinky... hmmm...). the kitchen has become my permanent hangout place, with the toilet and bedroom being the 2nd best and the living room the last. i'd sit there for hours, even a full day trying to look for recipes and concocting my own.

the ramen broth, in my opinion, plays a very important part. i always consider ramen comes with broth or noodles soaked in soup. so far that i know and tasted so far are; miso based, soy based and meat (beef and chicken) based. after i've covered the basics, i realized that more can be made, soup wise. that'll come later. i wish i could do my own noodles. so far i've tried it once but it was neither a win nor a failure. to me, its sort of like making a cake, you know, with all the measurements and exact quantities. i never liked that, i am what some professionals would say, rustic. but i say, plain reckless. dump in first, then taste later. so far, my recklessness has done well for myself. i managed to virtually taste it in my head rather than on my tongue (again, sounds kinky... hmmm...).

i used the simplest broth at first, miso and soy based, both can be purchased at your nearby supermarket (except for miso, in Swiss, i can only get it at Japanese/Korean/Chinese shops). miso by itself, kind of stinks like 2-day old sweaty feet in old sneakers. in this case, pungent. but i got the hang of it n it smells really tasty. its just something that you'll get used to when u venture into Asian, especially Japanese/Korean/Chinese food. but the funkiest one on the top of my list is the smell (and taste) of fermented bean curd. phew, not for the faint-hearted. unbelievably salty and smelly but in small doses, it is quite nice. an acquired taste so to speak.

Ramen broth starts off with making a base soup, includes boiling a seaweed called Konbu (sold hard and dry but becomes slippery and jello-y after boiled) and a few pieces of dried anchovies in water. what you get is a steaming hot salty sea-smelling base soup. chuck anchovies and konbu into the garbage since you won't need it. i tried to slice and add the konbu to the ramen broth but it wasn't that tasty to me. so from there, u can add the miso or soy sauce. you can of course go more simply by buying a powder called Dashi. some sort of soup bouillon, just as similar to normal soup powder in instant noodles. i use it often since its easier and pre-salted.

after a while, my brain starts ticking and had that urge to do even more... so in comes Youtube. watching endless clips or food, concentrating mostly on ramen broth. you should at least try to look for 'Tonkotsu Ramen'. this aroused my palettes and brain particles to a higher level. i was so fascinated on the creaminess of the broth. but i was blocked by one factor that was the main ingredient used in that particular recipe; pork fat, pork meat and pork bones... although looks tempting, but as a Muslim it didn't lead me to do the unthinkable. in fact, gave me a variety of options. Beef/chicken meat and bones. i started with a few then as months passed by, using a small pan first, then i used a soup pan. after having successful attempts making beef and chicken soups, i modified the ingredients and amounts to make a thick broth. what looks simple is actually time consuming. from thereon, i never looked at a ramen dish the same way and respected those of master the art of making Ramen from scratch. simple daily Asian ingredients; onions, garlic and ginger (carrots and celery can also be used to heighten the taste). pop in the chicken bones (and the meat if you want to... i used at least one chicken thigh with the drumstick attached... i'd debone it too if i was feeling chef-y) as well as the beef bones with the meat as well (i used the ribs because they were the cheapest i could buy... any parts with the bone and meat will do well)... boil at high heat for the first hour and low for the rest. then, its all patience all the way. i didn't count the hours but i think it felt like 10 hrs in total. the meat literally fell off the bone and the chicken bones was so soft, i could easily squeeze the juices with my bare hands.

get the juices through a sift and squeeze every goodness out of it and voila... a creamy, thick and awesome broth. i added some soy sauce to adjust the taste. pop in the noodles and you're good to glut over it. a fair warning, not to be consumed regularly. you will understand when you try it. once or twice a month is fine.i became quite picky with the noodles. i can't seem to get it right. i mean the choices. in the ramen clips, the noodles look so tasty. its most probably hand made. the ones i got from the shops are just fine. but up until now, i am still searching for the right one. its entirely up to you, i'm not satisfied yet so basically i'm still looking for the correct noodles.

oh the result...

the first attempt... broth was light and thin

the recent win :) thick and creamy!

more to come soon...


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