Fakeaway Miso Ramen recipe

I can’t deny that I love ramen. The best ramen I have ever had was in Tokyo but that would be a bit of a stretch telling you to hop on a flight just to eat good ramen. There are quite a few great ramen places in the bigger cities like Rotterdam and Amsterdam but what if I tell you I can make your own super delicious ramen bowl for not a lot of money.

Nissin instant noodles

Nissin is my go to brand for instant noodles. I love the texture of the noodle and the flavour of the broth packs. Cup Noodles are a bit too salty for me since I’ve started a low sodium diet. When you used to it, you don’t miss it. And to be honest Dutch people are pretty heavy Maggie users when it comes to soups.

I buy them at the Asian supermarket but your local supermarket tends to have a larger variaty of instant noodles so go with your preference. The sesame oil one is vegan.

Real ramen is made by boiling a broth (often bone based) for atleast 15 hours. But I was giving you a quick version of this dish. I haven’t made my own broth yet because I find it tedious so either use the pack that comes with the instant noodles or make a quick broth based on either veggies or chicken stock. The pork bone broth used in the famous Tonkotsu makes it extremely creamy but we don’t have the time to do this now.

Now my pet peeve. I absolutely hate the way supermarkets inflate the price of bean sprouts and deliver shit quality. I pay €1,00 for 125 grams of bean sprouts while at the Asian supermarket I pay a wopping € 0,33 for almost 200 grams of sprouts. Even going to the greengrocer you will not pay as much as the supermarket and have better quality. Fuck supermarkets for your fresh veggies, go to the greengrocer and you will also enjoy better tasting vegetables.

Always wash your bean sprouts. Sprouts can carry Listeria which can make you really sick or be really harmful for your unborn baby. I remove the beards, wash and blanche them and they still keep their crisp taste.

Ingredients – serve two – cooking time 30 minutes:
– 300 gr mixed minced meat (can be replaced by marinated tofu, vegan minced meat)
– 3 small shallots
– 3 cloves of garlic
– 2 tablespoons of miso paste
– 2 spring onions
– 2 packs of instant noodles
– 2 soft boiled eggs
– sesame oil
– black and white roasted sesame seeds

Prepwork:
Onsen eggs:
Add your eggs to boiling water, turn low and cook for 6 minutes. That keeps the yolk nice and runny and when you poke your chopsticks in them giving a dimension of creaminess to your broth. After the 6 minutes are up, place the eggs in ice water to stop them from cooking. If you don’t like runny yolks, cook for atleast 8 minutes.

Dicing and slicing your veggies:
Before you cook your minced meat, finely dice your shallots. It’s easier to cook them well-done if they are the same as your crumbled minced meat.

Wash and slice your spring onions in small rings and set aside.

Wash your bean sprouts and blanche with boiling water for 30 seconds. Longer will make your sprouts wilt. Set aside with your spring onions and your done with your veggie toppings. If you don’t like bean sprouts or spring onions you can swap out with julienne cut carrots, spinach, bok choy or edamame beans.

TIP: Knife maintenance. I have different knives to cut meat, bread and veggies. You don’t need to buy an expensive knife to have a good knife. My Chef’s knife costed €20 (bought with points at my supermarket) but I never ever wash it in the dishwasher. The heat of the dishwasher messes with the tempering of the knife and results with your knife becoming blunt really fast. Just use warm soapy water and give it a sponge hand wash. Hold the blade away from you while slowly stroking downwards with the sponge so you won’t cut yourself.
And yes I have banned my family from using my knives unless they use the same clean regime like I do.

Let’s start cooking!

Poor a little vegetable oil in a frying pan and sauté the diced shallots on a low/medium heat. When the shallots have softened up, add your minced meat and slowly cook while crumbling it. For vegan options replace the meat mince with vegan mince. It also tastes fantastic. *chef’s kiss*
You can use regular onions but shallots give a bit of a spicy kick to the dish.

Use a garlic press to crush your three cloves on top of the shallot/mince mixture and mix thorougly. If you want more garlic, you can add more garlic.

For the next step you add two tablespoons of miso. This is a fermented soybean paste and adds the umami to your ramen. It’s high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals and has been in use since the neolithic period of Japan. THAT OLD. This ingredient is the salt you need for your dish. The flavour and aroma depend on the ingredients used and how it is fermented.

I am using shinshu genen miso which belongs to the red/dark miso which has a deeper and more intense flavour compared to white misu. I like my broth with levels of deepness.
It’s best to buy your miso not from your regular supermarket as they cost €6,99 for a 300gr tub while I bought a 500gr tub for €5,79 at the Asian supermarket. They even have little bags of miso of 400gr starting at €2,70 which is an actual steal. Again fuck supermarkets and their inflated prices. If you can cut out the middle man, please do so.

The miso paste is thick so mixing it in is a bit hard. Just keep at it and your mince will get a beautiful deep brown colour. As it has a tendicy to burn if the heat is too high, keep it at a low/medium heat so the flavours get time to blend. If you don’t see any clumps of miso paste left your topping is done and set aside.

Cook your instant noodles following the instructions on the packet. Usually it’s 3 minutes in boiling water. Don’t let them get soggy. While you are waiting for your noodles the cook, empty the contents of the soup base in a bowl. You can pre-heat the bowl by submerging it in warm water.

Time to dress your bowl!

After your noodles are ready, poor the noodle water in your bowl and stir well so you won’t see any soup base clumps in your broth. After placing your noodles in the broth it is topping time.

I usually put the mince in the middle as a small pile and dressing my veggies around it. Because you blanched your bean sprouts, the broth will cool down less. It is important that you eat your ramen piping hot.

Carefully peel your onsen egg and let it slide in the broth. You can slice it in half for aesthetic but I like poking my egg with my chopsticks =D. Sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds and you are done.

Cost per serving: €3-4

Enjoy!

Tong Tong Fair 2019

Last Wednesday we went to the Tong Tong Fair in The Hague. When I was younger we did go often and after my father’s passing I decided I needed to go again once more.

My mother is from Indonesia and while I’ve never been there before my heart does long to the country. This fueled by the stories of her and other family members. But I know this is a romantic view that I have of Indonesia as my family left the country when they were very young and a lot has changed there. I do hope one day I can go visit.

The Tong Tong Fair gives you the chance to reconnect to your Indonesia heritage. You can buy Indonesian products, enjoy Indonesian food and listen to Indo music.
I do need to highlight the difference between Indo’s (I am one) and Indonesians. Indo’s have Dutch heritage in their family line. These are people who moved to Indonesia and started their life there during the colonisation. Indonesians are true locals so to speak.

The smell of the spices brought me back to the stories I’ve heard as a child. I could almost imagine myself walking along the rice fields. It is strange that you have a longing to a place you have never been before. But it is a longing that is fueled by my family’s history. It is sad to say that my grandmother is no longer with us, so I am unable to write down her stories. But I will sit down with my mother and write hers.

In the past the fair was bigger, with more stands telling the story of Dutch East Indies (the old colony) and the current Indonesia. But with the population who’ve migrated from Indonesia getting older, their stories are becoming lost in time. I’m a second generation, because my mother was born in Indonesia but a lot of people are third or fourth generation. Our ties with the past dwindling with each generation. People sometimes ask me why I find my heritage important. It’s because it made me, there are customs which are met with ridicule that I have from my Indo side. But I always say I have the best of two cultures, a thing that makes me able to understand how other second generations feel living in a country that sometimes not accepts them as their own even if you were born here.

It’s not been easy, living with an identity that pulls two directions. Not feeling your completely part of a culture because you are never truly Dutch or Indonesian. My skin colour gives me away for not being white but I am too tall to be Indonesian. People often piss me off by saying you don’t look Indonesian, holding on to the stereotypes portrayed in movies and books. But if they look at how diverse the Indonesian people are, people from Sumatra don’t look the same like the people from Maluku.
I am what I am.

One of the joys going to any Indonesian fair in the Netherlands is the difference in cooking you get to try. This year we got to try delicious treats from Surabaya, capital of the province of East Java. I enjoyed Soto Ayam with Longtong (Indonesian chicken soup with sticky rice), my mother had the same but with regular rice and my boyfriend had Sate Kambing with Longtong (skewers with goat meat covered in sweet marinade). The Soto Ayam is different then the one my mother makes, but just as good. Indonesian food is soothing for the soul.

While I was a bit sad that it was a lot smaller this year, I did enjoy myself. I’ll keep going back until I am able to set foot in Indonesia myself.

Indonesian garden
Indonesian garden
Soto Ayam
Soto Ayam
Sate Kambing
Sate Kambing
Kopi Luwak
Kopi Luwak
Exotic Fruits
Exotic Fruits

Birthday bash: day out with my boyfriend

This week my boyfriend celebrated his birthday and I planned a special day just for the two of us. Last year I was working but I think it’s better for us to spend our birthdays together, away from work doing fun stuff.

I read in the newspaper that the Philips Museum in Eindhoven has a special vinyl expo which made a great combo for our other plan which was to eat ramen at Xu Noodle Bar. YAY!

The day didn’t start out to great with the train broken down on the tracks which meant less trains were going to Eindhoven and we ended having to wait an hour before we could take a less crowded train. The waiting game was played at Star Bucks, where they never fail to misspell my name.

Arriving an hour later than planned we rushed towards Xu Noodle Bar. I just didn’t want to get caught between the lunch break of corporate peeps. Lucky for us it wasn’t crowded so we could have a nice lunch with Classic Pork Ramen (extra meat for the birthday boy) and some tasty snacks.

Itadakimasu!
Itadakimasu!

With our tummies filled up we went to the Philips Museum which is right around the corner. We had quite a different expectation on the vinyl expo. I thought it was showing us how the pressing of the vinyl’s works but nonetheless it was still interesting. Being from Brabant we all know the impact Philips had on the industry of the south. It was awesome to see how the light bulb factory started and through the years the company developed a lot of other electrical products and became important in the medical field.

I would have love to see more about the pressing of vinyl, the display contained a timeline when Philips produced vinyl’s until the development of the first CD. I must say I am happy technology kept developing and making the devices smaller because the first tape recorder and record players were massive.

Bulb factory
Bulb factory
My grandmother had a carpet like this
My grandmother had a carpet like this
Retro bedroom
Retro bedroom
classic turn table
Classic turn table
Queen Gloria
Queen Gloria

All in all it was a fun day with my love.

My obsession with ramen

One of my lifetime dreams was going to Japan and it finally became a reality in 2006 when I spent two weeks in a ryokan (family hotel or inn) in Tokyo. And there I tasted the best Japanese fast food ever, ramen.
I call it fast food, because it is not very expensive and served fast. While some toppings can be fried, in my opinion is healthier than a meal at McDonald’s or Burger King. With that said, I am not a dietician and I know noodles have a high calorie value but anyway.

There are two main ingredients for ramen: noodles and broth. A good broth complemented with the right toppings makes a heavenly dish. So I was devastated upon returning home that I couldn’t get my need for feed anymore. So sad.
I did have my Indonesian equivalent in Soto Ayam (Indonesian chicken soup) which is also delish, but I kept longing for a good bowl of Ramen.

In 2013 I moved to Belfast for work and close to my office in the city center there was Wagamama, a place I could indulge myself with ramen again. Wagamama ramen was my favorite at that place but I still missed the broth I tasted in Japan. So my search for great European ramen places started.

When I moved back to the Netherlands in 2016 the ramen popularity had hit my country. Of course Amsterdam was a forerunner when it comes to foreign food but I don’t often go there.
Sadly my home town’s idea to foreign food is morphed Chinese to suit the Dutch taste. I loathe it.

Slowly and surely small ramen shops are popping up here and there, even not that far away from me in Eindhoven. Broth made with care and recipes handed down in the family. I even drove my boyfriend nuts with the stories of the yummiest of dishes I had in my life.

In my quest on finding great ramen close by I’ve had the joy to find some true gems in the Netherlands.

Hinoki Noodle Soup, Rotterdam. They change their menu to the seasons and I had the Black Special Tonkotsu. The smell and taste of garlic overloaded the senses and it was a really kicker broth. I kept tasting it later on the day whenever I burped. My advise when eating ramen, get a light drink like green tea or iced tea without sugar so the flavour of the broth stays with you longer.

Black Special Tonkotsu
Black Special Tonkotsu

When me and my boyfriend visited the Cool Japan expo in Amsterdam it was only fitting to eat ramen for lunch. When in Amsterdam I am always worried when trying to find little gems like Fou Fow Ramen that it will be packed. Lucky for us this shop was not smack in the city centre so it was moderately busy.
We had the classic Tonkotsu which has a rich pork flavour and some Karage (fried chicken) with wasabi-mayo and I think my boyfriend also fell in love with ramen at that point. I did take him to Wagamama before but he enjoyed this broth a lot

Tonkotsu
Tonkotsu

My last trip to delicious heaven was last week in Eindhoven. I had passed Xu Noodle Bar a couple of times but hadn’t walked in yet. I’ve been studying to get my degree as Financial Assistant and had my final exams that day. After passing with a whopping 9.0 I treated myself to some victory ramen. Again I went for the classic Tonkotsu and the broth was soft and sweet. The pork was really tender and melted like butter in your mouth. In the Netherlands we have the saying: “It was like an angel pissing on your tongue”. Them Dutch and their weird sayings. I was one happy bunny after this fantastic lunch. And I need hthat “Send Noods” hoodie.

Classic Pork Soup
Classic Pork Soup

Great news for my vegan friends. All the above shops I’ve visited have vegan options for ramen so everyone can enjoy.