This is the first in a series of posts covering my exploration of ramen. During my visits to Tokyo, I neglected to properly appreciate the complexity of technique and the numerous variations available on most any block for a few bucks. When I set out to make my own ramen, I discovered so many recipes, all differing in one or two details, but resulting in very different broths. The noodles are more or less a given, and I didn’t find much difference, if any, between my home-made noodles, and the fresh ones that I buy at Tokyo Fish Market in Berkeley. The broth is where it’s at. First step for my ramen broth:
5 lbs. chicken drumsticks, I buy one of the packages at Costco for about $10
11 qts. cold water1 T. kosher salt
I put the drumsticks, juice and all, into my 12 Qt. All Clad stock pot, and fill it almost to the top with cold water. Add the salt, give it a good stir, and place it over high heat. It eventually starts to simmer, then eventually begins to boil. I give it another good stir just before it boils, then allow it to come to a full boil for about 2 minutes.
After the pot has a good boil for a couple of minutes, I reduce the heat to barely a simmer. During the boiling, the dissolved proteins in the water will coagulate and rise to the surface where I can skim them off. They look like foam at first, and eventually they become more solid. I skim the pot to remove the foam, fat, and any chunks that rise to the surface several times during the cooking process, which lasts five hours. It’s important to maintain that bare simmer or you will end up evaporating most of your broth.
At the end of the cooking process, I put the top on the pot and use it to hold the bones in the pot while I drain the broth through a fine sieve into a smaller pot. If I was paying attention and boiled, simmered and skimmed properly, I will have a clear, amber broth that I will freeze in 6 cup tupperware for use in more ways than I can count. One of those ways is to make Ramen Broth.