I write a lot about comfort food – usually it’s food that brings comfort to the other people for whom I cook. This, however, is one of my great comfort foods. When I used to travel to Asia, I loved the noodle carts which were the epitome of “street food.” Ramen is specific to Japanese noodles, but similar noodles are available in China, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. Ramen is also reminiscent of my college days. We all cooked Ramen noodles in our hot pots, but I could never tolerate the saltiness or the MSG, so I would use only a small portion of the seasoning packet; now I don’t use any of it. This recipe is somewhat of a combination of my traditional egg drop soup with the addition of chicken and Ramen noodles. You can add whatever vegetables you like (carrots, Chinese/Napa cabbage, Bok Choy, celery, mushrooms), or use beef broth and beef slices. You could also make a vegetarian version of this using vegetable broth, or do a seafood version with shrimp. I like very thinly sliced meat in the soup, and the best way to achieve this is to slice frozen (just barely thawed meat). I cook the meat (I poach, but you could grill it or pan sear it) in advance and then add it to the soup at the end. I also love the addition of egg (in “ribbon” form), so I cook that separately and add that at the end as well. If you are using additional vegetables, add them to the simmering broth until they are cooked and then add remaining ingredients. The addition of sesame oil at the end of the cooking process is also, in my eyes, a key component. You can also add a little heat with Siracha sauce, or a little additional Asian flavor with a couple of drops of soy sauce. I am lucky to have great Asian grocery stores nearby where I can purchase the noodles (which are easily recognizable – curly, tightly wound discs or bricks of noodles). If you are not so lucky, purchase individual packs of Ramen noodles (available at any grocery store), discard the seasoning packet, and use the noodles only. Note: it’s perfectly acceptable to “slurp” your noodles and soup; noodles are a symbol of longevity, so it’s considered bad luck to break the noodles either when preparing them or when eating them.
- 64 Oz. of Chicken Broth or Stock (can substitute Beef or Vegetable)
- 2-3 Rounds or Squares of Ramen Noodles
- 1 Large Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast (can substitute 6 oz. Sirloin or Tenderloin)- thinly sliced
- 1/3 Cup Chopped Scallion (green parts only)
- 2 Eggs (optional)
- 1/4 Mushrooms – thinly sliced (optional)
- 2 TBS. Sesame Oil
- Soy Sauce or Asian Hot Sauce (optional)
Add 3 cups of water, 1/2 cup of chicken broth, and 1 TBS. of sesame oil to a medium stock pot and bring to a boil. Add chicken to boiling mixture and cook thoroughly (about 3 minutes if chicken is very thinly sliced). Remove chicken and set aside. Wash stock pot and re-fill with all but 1-2 cups of remaining broth. Add vegetables (except green onions) if you are using any, and heat over medium.
To prepare the egg ribbons: add 1-2 cups of chicken broth to a small saucepan and heat to boiling. Crack two eggs into a bowl and whisk very lightly (when the egg is cooked, you want to see both yellow and white strands). At this point, you will have to either have a helper, or get creative because you will need pour the eggs through the tines of a fork (held over the pan) while stirring the eggs in the broth. Clearly, that will take three hands. My saucepan happens to have a hole in the handle, and the end of my fork fits in there. You could try resting the end of the fork on a can or overturned glass, but if you have a helper available, enlist them. Slowly pour the lightly beaten eggs through the tines of the fork while stirring in one direction. Pouring through the fork is what allows “ribbons” of egg to form, rather than large clumps. The eggs will cook almost instantly; set aside when finished.
When broth in stockpot is thoroughly heated, and vegetables are cooked to desired tenderness, add Ramen noodles and cook until tender (usually only about 3 minutes). Add cooked chicken (or other meat), egg ribbons (with the broth they are in), chopped scallions, and remaining TBS. of sesame oil. Portion noodles with desired amount of broth and vegetables into individual bowls; offer soy sauce and/or Asian chili sauce as a condiment.