Do you know ramen? The “real” ramen, as in the national comfort food dish of Japan, made with fresh noodles, rich broth, and any number of savory toppings.
This past winter, I had the most delicious ramen conversation at a Twitter networking event (yes, this event is born of Twitter!) with Kenji Okumura and Stephanie March. Kenji knows of ramen—he makes it, eats it, connects with it. He talks about it in the most loving way I’ve ever seen someone talk about food. When he talks about ramen, you get an idea of the comfort and beauty the dish inspires, and you want to eat ramen, immediately.
Then the Japan earthquake and tsunami happened, the horror playing out in everyone’s living room. Kenji got in touch with Stephanie and me with an idea to serve ramen to help the people of Japan. We both jumped at the chance. Stephanie came up with the idea for a ramen competition among chefs—a ramen-off!—and Kenji found Second Harvest of Japan, an outstanding organization working through and beyond the disaster to feed as many people as possible.
Sun Noodle donated noodles. Chefs started signing up to compete. Philip Dorwart of CREATE Catering volunteered his space. Friends and family started signing up to help and all of a sudden, we have an event.
Eat Ramen Help Japan is this Thursday (7/21/11, 6-10 p.m.) and I so hope that you can be there. I hope you can see what the love of ramen has created, to help people who still desperately need help, and to celebrate the ability of food to bring people together.
Masu Sushi & Robata, Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant, Meritage, CREATE Catering, moto-i, and more will provide their own signature ramen dishes for you to try and Jason DeRusha, Brian “BT” Turner, Andrew Zimmern, and Dena Alspach to judge.
Tickets can be purchased ahead of time or for cash at the door. Cost is $10 for entrance, which guarantees one bowl of ramen. Additional bowls may be purchased for cash at the event.
Eat ramen! Help Japan! Listen to DJ Nak music. Sing Norae Shanty Karaoke. Drink Fulton & Summit beer.
And then be inspired to try ramen at home with this easy recipe from Kenji Okumura. If the only ramen you’ve ever made was at 2 a.m. in your college dorm room, you’ll be blown away by this quick version. Fresh noodles are the key here, as well as the rich flavor of toasted sesame seeds. Add ground pork, hard-cooked egg, and fresh vegetables for a meal-in-a-bowl that will give you a window into the ramen-mania sweeping the Twin Cities.
Photo by Stephanie Meyer
Photo by Stephanie Meyer
Soup and Noodle
8 1/2 c. water, divided
1 pkg. Sun Noodle Shoyu flavor fresh ramen (availabe at United Noodle and online)
2 Tbsp. roasted sesame seeds, ground
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. vinegar
2 tsp. chili oil
1/2 lb. ground pork, browned
1 c. snow peas, trimmed and blanched
1/2 c. soy or other sprouts
1/4 c. minced scallions
1 hard boiled egg, sliced
Have toppings ready to go. Set out two soup bowls.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix flavor packet from ramen, ground sesame seeds, sesame oil, vegetable oil, vinegar, chili oil, and 1 1/2 cups of water and heat until quite hot but not boiling. Keep hot.
Meanwhile, place 7 cups of water in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cook noodles in water for 2 minutes (no longer). Strain and divide noodles between the two bowls.
Ladle hot broth over the noodles, garnish with toppings, and serve immediately.