Friday, September 21, 2012

Ramen for Two

I had previously posted a Shrimp Ramen Soup recipe - this is a more traditional ramen that is pork based.  Being an empty nester makes it necessary to scale down recipes for just two people.  That can often be difficult since the ingredients necessary may not come in small enough portions.  This is the first post focusing specifically on recipe's for two people - hopefully there will be others.

Ramen soup - a staple for college students.  I will occasionally eat it even now using the included broth packet.  I like to eat it for breakfast - I use a bit less water than it calls for; and, after adding the noodles and broth packet, I'll stir in a slightly beaten egg. 

But, sometimes, you just want the real thing.  I put that in italics as I really have no idea if this even remotely resembles ramen soup that you might find in Japan, having never been there.  But it is a hearty, and quite tasty, soup - perfect for dinner in the cooler months of fall and winter.  It's easy to make and much of the preparation can be done the day ahead.

  • 3/4 pound of pork (see note 1)
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1-inch hunk of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 5 dried shitake mushrooms with stems removed and reserved
  • 4 cups chicken stock (preferably home made)
  • 1/4 head cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 - 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • (optional) other fresh vegetables (see note 2)
  • 1 Tbl miso
  • 1 Tbl soy sauce
  • 1 Tbl mirin
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • (optional) salt and pepper (if necessary)
  • 2 packages ramen soup noodles (discard seasoning packets)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • (optional) sriracha, or other hot sauce, added to taste, while serving


A small 6-quart crockpot works well; but, this could also be done on a stove top. The first 5 steps can be done ahead of time - even the day before.
  1. Place the sliced onions in the bottom of a pot.  Place pork meat on top (cut pork into smaller hunks if necessary).  Top with garlic, minced ginger, and and dried shitake mushrooms (both stems and tops).  Pour chicken stock over everything.
  2. Simmer until pork meat is tender enough to shred (about 5 hours in a crockpot - possibly quicker on stove top)
  3. Remove from heat and let sit until cool enough to handle
  4. Remove pork meat; shread and reserve.  Remove shitake mushroom tops (not stems); slice into slivers and reserve
  5. Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer and then let sit to allow oil to float to the top.  Skim off oil
  6. Return stock to pot and add all remaining ingredients (including reserved pork and shitake mushrooms) - except noodles and green onions.
  7. Simmer until vegetables are tender
  8. Taste and add salt, if necessary
  9. Meanwhile, cook ramen noodles by placing in boiling water for two minutes, strain and run under cold water to stop cooking
  10. To serve, place noodles in bottom of bowl, ladle soup over noodles, add sriracha, if desired, sprinkle chopped green onions on top

  1. You can use any type of pork, such as country style ribs, pork chops, etc.  I happened to find a slice of pork shoulder that was 0.8 pounds which I used.  Preferably the meat should include bones and they will help make a richer stock - but boneless will work as well.
  2. You can add any other vegetables you may happen to have on hand; for example:  Chopped bell pepper (green, red, or any other color), summer squash or carrot, julienned, etc.  You can also add things such as snow peas or sugar snap peas - although I would add these later (just a few minutes before serving) so as to not overcook.  Personally, I would avoid vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower as they have a strong flavor which could prove overpowering.  I would also avoid starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and winter squash.   But, this is America - so do whatever floats your boat.
More Notes
  • I like to add lots of vegetables which almost makes this a thick soup - or thin stew. This is a good use of extra vegetables in the fridge that need to be used before they go bad.  When I made it, I julienned some zucchini squash,  yellow crookneck squash, and carrots in addition to the cabbage.  I also used a whole 8oz package of mushrooms thinly sliced.
  • No need to reconstitute dried shitake mushrooms as they will reconstitute while making the stock.  But, be sure to remove the stems as, even reconstituted, they can be tough and chewy.  But add the stems to the stock for flavoring since they will be strained out with everything else
  • If using store bought chicken stock then you may not need to add any salt as it typically has a lot of salt.  I make my own chicken stock and don't add any salt; so, I find I do sometimes need to add a bit of salt to recipes using my homemade chicken stock.  Although, for this particular recipe, I find that the soy sauce, mirin, and miso add enough sodium for my taste and don't need to add any salt - but others may find it necessary.
  • My wife does not like black pepper - so I usually leave it out in recipes and grind some on top of my portion at the table.  But, if you have no aversion to black pepper, I think this recipe could benefit from it.
  • Only cook enough ramen noodles that you will eat during the meal as they will get mushy if left in the soup.  You can easily cook more noodles if you have leftover ramen soup,
  • Normally I like to add lots of garlic - I will often double the amount called for in a recipe.  But, in this recipe I tend to take a more conservative approach - especially since I use my own homemade chicken stock - which I make using garlic.  I love garlic; I just don't want too much of a good thing.