Ramen is now popular all over the world. Although it originated from China, Japanese really developed it into their own and now, I hear that Japanese-style ramen is popularized even in China. Especially after the invention of the “instant” and “cup” ramen, it became one of the very popular late night snacks in addition to lunches in Japan as well as in the world. Many people are really into it, as you could see in the old classic movie, Junzo Itami’s “Tampopo” and more recently, a Hollywood ramen movie, “Ramen Girl“. I am originally from Sapporo 札幌 and ramen noodles from Sapporo have been famous in Japan for some time. In my college days, we often stopped at the original “Ramen alley” ラーメン横町 in Susukino すすきの after bar hopping and drinking. Many serious individuals as well as chain ramen restaurants have developed in Japan since then, even here in the U.S., especially in New York and Los Angeles. Many regional ramen dishes also have developed and “instant” ramens have become more sophisticated and gourmet.
I just made this ramen noodles out of whatever was in our refrigerator and dried ramen noodles that I had (I already mentioned that I like frozen “raw” noodles from the Nishiyama seimen the best). This is not the usual way I make Ramen especially since I often make “Yakibuta” 焼豚 or Sino-Japanese pot roast of pork, separately and ahead of time. I use “Yakibuta” slices as a topping for the Ramen noodle as is often done. But I had only uncooked pork and this is how I made it this time.
I used one serving of dried noodles for two small servings. I had the trimmings of a pork tenderloin which I just sliced very thinly (whatever amount). I also used onion (1 small), “nappa” Chinese cabbage (2 leaves), fresh shiitake mushroom (3-4 small), baby spinach (1 small handful), and thinly sliced scallion for garnish (2, white part only). You could use any vegetables and proteins you may have. I minced ginger (1/4 tsp) and garlic (1 clove) and sautéed in a sauce pan in a small amount of vegetable oil (2 tsp) and a dash of roasted sesame oil for 30 seconds. I added the pork slices until the color turns white. Before garlic burns, I added mirin (1 tbs) and soy sauce (1 tbs) and braise until the meat is cooked and liquid is almost all gone. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. In the same pan, I add vegetable oil (2 tsp) and sauteed sliced onion and thinly cut white bottom part of the nappa cabbage. Brown bits or “fond” will accumulate on the bottom and the side of the pan because of the sugar in the mirin and in the onion. After the vegetables wilt, I de-glaze with Chicken broth (I used low-fat, low-sodium Swanson chiken broth in a box), add more both (about 200ml) and 100ml of water (amount of the water depends on the saltiness of broth). I then add sliced shiitake and green part soft parts of nappa cabbage and simmer for few minutes. I add spinach which will wilt in 30 seconds. There should be enough saltiness but taste and adjust by adding soy sauce. Meanwhile I cook the noodle for 3-4 minutes to desired doneness, drain and place it in the bowls. Pour the broth in the bowls leaving the vegetables in the pan. Then I arrange the pork, vegetables, and garnish with scallion and cracked pepper. The color of broth is mostly coming from de-glazing. This is a rather healthy version of Ramen but it is not bad for a quick dish.
We usually do not like to use “seasoning packets” that come with gourmet instant ramen noodles, since it often contains a large amount of animal fat as well as salt. Fortunately you could just buy noodles either dry (not pre-deep fried) or raw “frozen”.