Monday, 22 April 2013

Spicy Seafood Ramen

I've always been obsessed with noodle soups. My noodle of choice is that wide flat noodle, hor fun - soft and slippery, filling and comforting. My heart has been stolen recently by another though. Ramen noodles, now so trendy in London at least, so elastic and thin. Emma of Tonkotsu gifted me a bundle of fresh ramen noodles, made in-house by their beast of a noodle machine. I knew I had to rustle up something special to make the most of them. 

I didn't have time to be simmering tons of pork bones long enough to make a tonkotsu. I decided instead on a seafood ramen, a spicy one at that to blow out the cold I had picked up. 

I'm lucky enough to live near an excellent fishmonger; their raw shell-on prawns have heads that give you a vividly orange and intensely prawn-flavoured, sweet stock. They threw in a sea bass head and carcass for free after I asked for one; if you do the same, don't use oily fish for this - white fish only. A piece of kombu seaweed went in as well, to really deepen that flavour of the sea. Once strained, garlic was softened in a little oil and then gochujang, that sweet fermented Korean chilli paste, to flavour the broth. A handful of Korean chilli flakes, famous for their colour but mild heat, went in too. 

And then it's really just quick cooking and assembly. Mussels, cleaned and debearded slip into the broth - just as they're about to open, some raw prawns. Warmed bowls are filled with freshly cooked noodles, vegetables placed carefully on top. A couple squares of nori followed, then ladles of hot stock and seafood. To finish, fish skin crisps - yup, crisps made of fish skin - carefully placed so that they're half in the broth and half out. That half crispiness, half floppiness is one of my favourite texture contrasts. It was a comforting bowl, spicy but deep in flavour. Inspired by Bone Daddies' seafood kimchi special, some kimchi would have gone in had I had any but actually the broth benefitted from being subtle and spicy without the fermented cabbage tang. I wish I had been bothered enough to make nitamago (that gooey, marinated egg) to nestle on top. 

I won't lie. All these ingredients are pretty specialist, but you'll find them in Oriental supermarkets or online

Spicy Seafood Ramen

Serves 4

4 bundles of ramen noodles (or use fresh wonton noodles from the supermarket)
4 raw prawns, head and shell on
1 fish carcass, like a sea bass or hake head
1 large handful of mussels, cleaned and debearded
3 coin-like slices of ginger
400ml chicken stock
1 square of kombu seaweed
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 heaped tbsp gochujang
1 handful of Korean coarse chilli flakes
1 handful of beansprouts, blanched
1/2 tsp salt
A small handful of mizuna or rocket, roughly chopped
2 leaves of Chinese cabbage, roughly chopped
2 sheets of nori, quartered
1 spring onion, julienned
A bag of fish crisps (optional)

Simmer the chicken stock with the kombu, ginger, prawn heads and shells, salt and the fish carcass for 45 mins. Strain through a fine sieve. 

Fry the minced garlic in a little oil, then add the gochujang. Fry until fragrant. Add a little of the stock to the pan and mix well so that there are no lumps. Add the rest of the stock. Add the mussels for a couple of minutes, then the prawns. As soon as the prawns have turned pink, sieve the stock into another pan, reserving the mussels and prawns. 

Cook the noodles for 35 secs or so, until tender. Drain and add to the bowls. Meanwhile, bring the stock up to the boil and add the Chinese cabbage. Arrange the mussels, prawns, beansprouts, and nori neatly in the bowl. Ladle the broth evenly over the noodles. Garnish with fish crisps, rocket / mizuna and the spring onions, then serve immediately, with chilli oil for everyone to add in themselves.


Milk and Honey said...

Looks delish. There's a bit of a Ramen craze happening where I am. It's all the rage at the moment. I love the photo of the all the fish heads in the pot.

rej said...

yum and yum.

Donald Edwards said...

I'm planning wrong'un ramen to use the noodles with tonight.... might grab some shellfish too though