As a properly emo teenager, I used to put on Nada Surf’s Inside of Love on repeat. As a lovesick teenager who was, as all teenagers are, misunderstood – I felt that Nada Surf got me. I was always on the outside looking in.
You would think that as I grew older, I would be more comfortable with my skin and accept who I am. Clearly some things never change. Sometimes I think I never did grow up – dealing with rent, starting a new business, getting married and all those boring adult things aside – I am still that insecure teenager feeling like I’m on the outside looking in.
It is probably one of the reasons why I probably do my Mad Kitchen Experiments.
When I cook I feel that deep desire to belong and to be part of a greater wider community that I feel exclude me whether intentionally or non-intentionally.
Which brings back to today’s dish. Ramen.
I had a particularly good bowl of ramen at Sushi Tei recently. Sushi Tei is a divisive restaurant, I find out later on. While I and the family really enjoy it, the husband has ordered a couple of so-so dishes and my good friends dislike it vehemently. One of them went as far to exclaim like ‘What on earth could you like in there that could be good enough?’
It felt like I was being interrogated. I somewhat stammered, ‘Ramen?’
My friend scoffed at my choice. She was not being mean but she did think it was a strange choice. ‘There are plenty of places that do better ramen in KL.’
‘True, but they tend to be non-halal.’
I love food – and if you look at my dress size, you probably know it’s no surprise that I love food. But I am Muslim and more often than not, it’s so difficult to look at a steak when you’re in the States without salivating and thinking to yourself – maybe just this once. And I doubt I am the only one who keeps wondering what bacon must taste like.
And so I cook, I experiment. I don’t want to choose between my religion nor do I want to be just be happy, sitting and eating Muslim food as some people are. I wanted to taste everything, see everything, be a part of everything without having to compromise another important part of me.
Back to the ramen.
Having a ramen habit in KL, halal or non-halal can get pretty darn expensive after a while. And as much as I like Sushi Tei, they can get ramen pretty wrong at times and it is an expensive mistake. The last time I ate there, it was bland and just pointless. Very disappointing.
Considering one of my closest friends live off soupy noodles, I thought there must be a reason why anyone would love this thing so much. After researching a few quick recipes – I came up with this.
I also served this with a char siu/chashu style chicken which was while not bad, was nothing authentic and not worth blogging yet.
Now traditional ramen takes hours to make. I’m not pretending that this is anywhere close to a real traditional ramen but it’s fast, it’s tasty and certainly much cheaper than any of the halal stuff you can get out there in KL. So what on earth are you waiting for? Go forth and ramen.
Spicy Miso Ramen
Adapted from Just One Cookbook
1/2 inch of ginger
4 cloves of garlic
150g minced beef
1 tbs Korean chilli paste
4 to 5 cups of water
1 sachet of hondashi granules
4 small packet of instant noodles
3 tbs miso – you can get miso without any alcohol added in Isetan supermarket.
1 tbs sesame seeds – grounded to a fine powder
1 tbs sugar
2 soft boiled eggs
1 small bunch of kailan – roughly chopped
Mushrooms – which I did not have
Narutomaki – sliced
- Mince onion and garlic and grate ginger. In a large pot, saute these ingredients till they soften. Turn up the heat to medium high and add in minced beef to brown the meat.
- As soon as the beef is browned, add in 1 tablespoon of Korean chilli paste. Stir it well and mix in 4 cups of hot water.
- Stir in the dashi stock and bring it to a simmer. Add the sesame seeds powder and sugar.
- Bring the stock to warm – do not let it boil! Add in your miso paste. If your soup were to boil, it’d ruin the delicate flavour of miso. Taste for seasoning.
- Now depending on the ramen you use, you might either have to cook them first, or you could add them straight to your soup. Either way, follow the instructions in your packet. If there isn’t any instructions, boil them first for about 2 minutes, drain the noodles and then add them to the stock.
- Garnish with the following garnish. Serve with spring onions.