When you have a well stocked fridge and freezer with ingredients ready to go, you can whip up a restaurant- like ramen bowl in literally 20 Mins.
First – I always have in my freezer “superior stock “. And by superior stock I mean really tasty thick umami broth with delicious flavours extracted using pork bones or chicken bones, clams fried with sesame oil, ginger and brandy, all sorts of seasoning and slow boiled for about 3-6 hours and then frozen into small tubs.
When you have the most delicious broth, half the battle is won.
For how to make this delicious broth, check out my article via this link
FROZEN BEEF SLABS
Next, I find it incredibly convenient to have frozen beef in the fridge. Of course, it is not as fresh but when u feel like it, you just take one out to defrost and you can have beef anytime. Just season, pan fry and slice and you can have it with bread, wraps, noodles etc.
And because it is frozen, no point splurging on the most choice cuts or quality. Buy an average cut from a wholesale supplier in bulk and you get very reasonably-priced beef ready for use in your freezer any day.
I found this beef at wholesale supplier Ben Foods some years ago. They carry this thing called “Meltique beef “.
It is basically cheap cuts of beef that have been artificially marbled. A variety of injectants may be used such as pure fat (such as tallow) heated up to a high temperature to melt it while sufficiently cool so as not to cook the meat. Other injectants could be fat suspended in an emulsifier, fat blended with vegetable oils, or fatty acids such as conjugated inoelic acid(CLA) in powder form.
And the taste? The beef pan fried is actually quite delicious and tender. It just lacks a robust beefy flavour but really, it is quite acceptable except to the most critical gourmet beef palette. And hey, for about 5 bucks a piece I pay for it (but it’s a bulk order so you need to buy 42 pieces at $216 and they deliver), I have no complaints.
These are Japanese dried prawns. So again, I always have a ready supply in my drawer.
The next time someone travels to Japan and ask if they can get something for you, ask for Sakura prawns. They are inexpensive in Japan so why buy in S’pore where only Japanese gourmet shops carry it at a ridiculous price (compared to Japan).
And you’re doing your friend the kind soul a favour cos these things are incredibly light and flat. It takes next to no space in their luggage.
All you need in your ramen is one heaped spoon of the Sakura prawn, fry it over slow fire in a little oil for 5 mins and you have this heavenly aromatic ingredient to aromatize your bowl of ramen.
I tried various types of ramen (dry, frozen, chilled etc) but never found anything I like.
Then one day, I wandered into Don Don Donki (the 24 hour Japanese supermarket store in Orchard Central) and found this brand of chilled ramen that was delicious and reasonably priced.
The ramen was packed in small individual portions (just nice for one bowl) and what was even better, it came with individually packed seasoning. I tried the miso seasoning and also shoyu seasoning and both were delicious.
You can keep these chilled ramen about 3 months in your chiller so again, an instant ingredient.
THE 20 MINS MAGIC
One day before, take one to two tubs of your superior stock and one piece of beef from your freezer and leave it in your chiller compartment.
Two to three hours before cooking, take out that superior stock and beef from your fridge. This will allow the beef to soften completely so that when you pan fry the beef, it wouldn’t be cold in the middle.
30 mins before cooking, pat dry the beef and season with pepper, a little salt and one table spoon of Worcester sauce (Lea & Perrin sauce). Coat thoroughly on both sides.
Heat up your superior stock in a pot with one thick slice of ginger and one clove of peeled garlic. Add one tablespoon of brandy(optional).
While the soup is being heated up, fry one tablespoon or more of Sakura prawns over a Low fire in one tablespoon of vegetable oil. This should take only 3- 5 mins. Remove and set aside.
In the same oil, turn up the heat to maximum and when the pan is smoking, add one tablespoon of butter and if you have, throw in one stalk of thyme (optional). Pan fry the beef in the oil butter mixture at high heat. For the Meltique beef, I only pan fried it about 1.5 -2 minutes on one side before turning and cooked for another 1.5-2 minutes. Remove and set aside and let it rest.
I had fresh prawns and decided to use it for my ramen. Never just dunk fresh prawns to cook in the ramen or broth. You do it no justice. This is what I did.
30 mins before cooking, I marinated the prawns with pepper, salt, one tablespoon of sugar (honey can also be used) one heaped teaspoon of turmeric powder, one teaspoon of Worcester sauce. Then I pan fried the prawns in butter after I had fried the beef. You get a crusty (because of the sugar used ) very aromatic (because of the butter used) succulent prawns with amazing flavours. Just 2 minutes on each side pan fried over high heat. Remove and set aside.
Your pan is now full of crusty bits sticking (because of the sugar) and juices from the beef and prawn butter mixture. Fry one tablespoon of chopped garlic until brown in this mixture and pour all the browned garlic and remaining juices into your pot of boiling broth.
I added the seasoning from the ramen into the broth and added vegetables. Then added the ramen. The ramen took no more than 3-4 mins to cook .
Ladle the ramen with broth into a bowl, arrange the fried prawns and sliced beef over it. Pour any juices from the prawns and beef into the broth.
Finally, trickle the crispy Sakura prawns over your ramen and voila, a visually beautiful bowl of ramen bursting with Umami flavours is your creation.
All in 20 minutes cooking time.