Ramen’s popularity is a no-brainer. “It’s delicious,” says Motomu Kumano, the director and executive chef of South Melbourne’s Komeyui. “People like the complex taste. It’s sweet and salty, with a little bit of a sourness. And there’s lots of umami flavour.”
Kumano points out that a ramen’s broth is a key element to success. His own recipe starts with a master sauce that’s quick and easy to make, but ideally should sit overnight to gain added dimensions of flavour. “It takes times for the dried ingredients like the shiitake slices and bonito flakes to impart their flavours,” he says.
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Next comes the dashi, the basic stock used in Japanese soups and other boiled dishes. Kumano’s version is a simple stock made from water, seaweed and bonito, though you can also use chicken stock at home.
Of course, the noodles are the crux of the dish. Kumano recommends the “high quality” thin yet supple ramen noodles from Hakubaku, which use organic Australian wheat and authentic Japanese methods. It’s also local to Victoria, made in the regional city of Ballarat.
As for the toppings on your homemade ramen bowl, that’s entirely up to you. Kumano adds egg for some extra protein and spring onions for a crunchy green element, and you can also reach for sliced pork or chicken, seafood or seaweed. If you have the right noodles and you’ve devoted time to your broth, there’s no wrong answer after that.
Motomu Kumano’s homemade ramen
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
30g unsalted butter
350ml dashi bonito stock (or your favourite stock or broth)
30–50ml master sauce (see below)
2 bunches of Hakubaku Organic Ramen Noodles
Optional toppings (e.g. seasoned egg, wakame seaweed or green vegetables)
280ml dark soy sauce
10g dried shiitake slices
10g bonito flakes
10g garlic puree
4.5g small kombu seaweed sheets
20g bonito flakes
For the master sauce, place ingredients in saucepan and heat on low. Simmer for 5 minutes and turn off heat. You can use the master sauce straight away or let the sauce stand overnight to gain added dimensions of flavour. The next day, strain sauce through a fine strainer into a glass container.
To make the dashi, place water and kombu in a saucepan and heat on low. Remove kombu just before the water reaches a boil. Add bonito flakes. Lower heat when water starts to boil. Simmer for a few minutes, then turn off heat and let the liquid stand for 5 minutes. Strain dashi through a fine strainer into another saucepan. Press down on the bonito flakes to extract remaining liquid.
Now, prepare your ramen. Melt butter in a saucepan and gradually whisk in the dashi, stirring until warm. Salt the broth to taste. Add master sauce. Cook ramen noodles as per packet instructions. Place cooked noodles in a bowl and pour the combined sauce and dashi over them. Add toppings of your choice.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Hakubaku Australia.