A flavorful take on ramen


By Amy Kimoto-Kahn (New York: Race Point Publishing, 2016, 176 pp., hardcover, $22.95 )

With the recent surge of ramen’s popularity, this book will interest any ramen fiend or foodie that’s ready to take on homemade (non-instant) ramen. In the words of a chapter in “Simply Ramen,” get ready to “Rameducate Yourself.”

Amy Kimoto-Kahn’s approach to ramen is thorough, yet flexible — it’s geared for people serious about ramen, yet she offers ramen topping options that are easy and quick to make (read: good for busy people) such as poached eggs and roasted nori (seaweed), as well as options that are still delicious, yet maybe a bit more time consuming, such as chashu (braised pork) or kakuni (braised pork belly).

The book starts off with the how-tos of putting together a bowl of ramen and then dives into basic soup base recipes in flavors that will be familiar to any ramen enthusiast, such as tonkotsu (broth cooked from pork bones), shoyu and miso (Japanese traditional seasoning made from fermenting rice, soybeans and other flavors). While creating the bases is time consuming, the recommendation here is to not make every component of ramen in one day. Soup and noodles, both which take a lot of time to make, can be made in advance and frozen. Kimoto-Kahn also gives alternatives for noodles made from scratch, for those who would rather skip that part and get to the eating part (a little) faster.

The book is full of recipes for classic ramen components that we all know and love, but also puts a new spin on ramen with fun variations, such as “Ohayougozaimasu Ramen,” which literally translates to “Good Morning Ramen.” The book delineates its recipes into level 1, 2, or 3, depending on the degree of difficulty. Most preparation times for recipes average 30 minutes to an hour.

Adventurous variations start appearing in the Specialty Ramen section, which includes recipes for variations such as Kamo (duck) Matcha Ramen and Cheese Ramen. Kimoto-Kahn also explores new fusions of ramen using ingredients and flavors such as chorizo, southern crawfish and mapo tofu (popular Chinese dish that consists of tofu in a spicy sauce).

Following all the ramen recipes, there’s also a chapter of recipes of dishes that would go well with ramen. Recipes include classics such as fried rice and gyoza (dumplings), but also include personal recipes from her own family and friends. The book finishes off with the Ramen Tour list of Tokyo, which includes information and descriptions of six different ramen shops she ate at, as well as some guidelines of what to expect when eating at a ramen shop in Japan, helpful for first-timers in a Japanese ramen-ya, or people looking to further their “Rameducation” in Tokyo. This book will get ramen-lovers dreaming about the vast world of ramen and help spur creativity in preparing it at home.

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