Archive for fish sauce

When In Doubt; Ramen

Posted in asian, eggs, japanese, noodles, pork, soup, stock with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2016 by oskila

I think I might have triggered myself with the last post… Here’s an actual dish.

Went to seldom visited grocery store. Found soft ramen noodles and big bottle of inexpensive fish sauce. Cogs started turning again.

Fast forward a few days and found myself without dinner late at night after struggling considerably with putting the child to bed (and falling asleep myself)

A vision of Tonkotsu Ramen noodle soup appeared for my inner vision. Problem is, while it’s street food in Japan, the broth alone takes over 12 hours to prepare and the eggs at least four. So I had to wing it and cheat.


In a pot I combined finely sliced onion, carrot and ramsons (aka wild garlic), a handful of edamame beans and a small amount of ground up dried mushrooms. A cup of chicken stock followed, seasoned with soy sauce, mirin and fish sauce.

Broth brought to a simmer I added paper thin slices of brined pork neck that I had set aside while making pulled pork the night before.

In another pot an egg was boiled for six minutes and then fished out and peeled while the noodles cooked in the same water for two minutes.

Noodles transferred to bowl, broth poured over, egg sliced and plopped on top (without marinating for four hours), various condiments sprinkled.


While obviously a weak, adulterated shadow of the real thing, I found this bowl of food incredibly tasty. Further attempts to home in on the original are in pipeline.

Addendum re Lentil Soup and Umami

Posted in cheese, condiments, lentils, soup, vegan, vegetarian with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2014 by oskila

Yesterday I hurried to get my first post in months done and forgot to include lots of things in the text. Rather than editing the post I decided to do a new one with some explanation and deeper analysis. Before writing the post on lentil soup I had planned to give suggestions about what else to add and elaborate on veggie umami stuff a bit more.

Lentils, even beluga lentils, aren’t that rich in umami stuff themselves, and may need a helping hand. Stock usually gets the task done, but people are often wary of MSG these days (mostly without reason, since it doesn’t cause migraine, ADD or cancer at all, at least not when used sensibly. Read up on ‘Chinese Food Syndrome’ for more fun facts).

My soup didn’t contain lots of tomato, but it’s high in glutamic acid, another umami agent. Especially sizzled tomato paste or ‘sun dried’ tomatoes are handy tools in this aspect. Even a dollop of ketchup in the right place can enhance many a bland dish.

Onions are another useful umami vegetable as long as you let them cook properly to give off maximum flavor. In the soup I used fried onions because it’s a rather odd thing to do, but also because they’re more thoroughly fried than one would ever bother to do at home and packed with flavor, both from natural umami compounds and from maillard reactions associated with frying. The batter also acts as thickening – it’s funny how things work out sometimes.

Mushrooms are also a classic umami ingredient, but the combination with lentils in soup felt a bit out of place.

Ssamjang, Korean chili paste with garlic and soy beans, has been a trusty companion in the kitchen for several years. The umami content is largely due to fermentation, one of the common methods for getting more umami.

Enough about umami. The other thing I forgot to write at the end of the last post was the suggestion of adding a splash of wine, either red or white, to deepen the flavors in general. Those of a less vegan persuasion can add for example grated cheese, a splash of cream or fish sauce, especially if you’ve made a large batch and are having it for lunch for the fifth day in a row…

I’ve had the images for the next post ready for publication since just after Christmas, but other things got in the way. Hopefully that post will be up soon.

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