Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ivan Ramen

One morning I heard my husband, the late riser, laughing in bed. He had happened upon a funny video that combined a harsh Long Island Jewish guy with a double shio ramen from Japan. I posted the video to my Facebook page, and a Japanese friend asked, "Is it true story of this guy?" Turns out, he is real. He's a chef, a Japanophile, he has ramen shops in Japan and New York, and he has a new cookbook! The mystery of ramen is revealed in Ivan Ramen a new memoir and cookbook by Ivan Orkin.

This is not about styrofoam cups of instant ramen or dry bricks with the "flavor packet" one finds at the grocery store. This kind of ramen is about layers of flavor, hours of labor, and the magical experience of slurping (and you must slurp in air and thus make noise in order to eat) the hot broth and noodles. His ramen is a double shio salt ramen made with two kinds of stock which is my absolute favorite!

Five years of eating ramen noodles in Japan puts my authenticity button into the ozone. I'm a noodle snob. This book is the closest I've come to comprehending the scoops, techniques, and composition that go into making a bowl of ramen like those found in Japan. It's a rare book that captures what it is to eat ramen. It explains in fascinating detail the evolution, the who's who, and how to not only prepare, but eat ramen-- you must slurp the hot and the fat from a bowl of ramen into your mouth, and yes, it may dribble on your chin. 

Recipes for each component of the ramen he serves are included: chicken fat, pork fat, shio tare salt seasoning, sofrito aromatic vegetable base, katsuobushi seasoned salt, double soup stock, toasted rye noodles, menma cured bamboo shoots, chashu braised pork belly, and the beloved in Japan half-cooked egg. His story about how he got to this point in life, in the kitchen, and in the dual locations of New York and Japan are shared in a warm open hearted way that contrast with his sharp city demeanor on display in the video.

Ivan Orkin is a Culinary Institute of America in New York graduate and chef who brings careful attention to a food he loves. His ramen is prepared with the exacting standards he utilized in kitchens like Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill and the famous French restaurant Lutèce in Manhattan. He explains how to make ramen at home, but you will need great ingredients, lots of time, a weight scale, and a thermometer.

I could kiss his toes for writing this book and giving me the hope that someday I can create a bowl of ramen worthy of the ones I ate in Japan, but in my own kitchen here in the hills of Ohio.

Let the noodling begin!

Ivan Ramen

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