As part of my exploration into styles, I’ve been definitely interested in working on a Kitakata style ramen recipe. Typically, the style has the following characteristics:
It’s light, and it’s a double soup of typically pork, though chicken is also not rare, and dashi, usually made from niboshi.It uses a soy tare. Toppings are pork, green onion, and bamboo shoots. Sometimes fishcake The noodles in particular are distinctive, they have a wider cut, like linguine, and are wavy and crinkly, and very alkaline.
Just based on that, you’d have a lot of options. Even the tare alone could go in a ton of directions.
Luckily, Shichisai, an extremely popular shop in Tokyo, has published several of their inner workings in books (in japanese), and my dude here (also in Japanese) has tried out a home-cook version. They do a double soup of chicken parts and dashi. It’s ethereal. Keizo Shimamoto describes it as if it “changes over time”.
So I blatantly stole a bunch of techniques from the above sources, using some techniques I prefer as well, with ingredients I could find, and gave it a shot. I present that here below. I in no way claim this is original, or mine. I only claim that it is awesome. One of the folks I had over to try it said it was the best ramen he’s had in years. It’s light but complex and delicious.
Best part? Shichisai uses a pressure cooker to make their chicken broth. So a lot of the active cooking time is reduced; the chicken broth only takes around 90 minutes start to finish.
Let’s jump right into it.
The soup is actually a double soup, which I combined 50:50 by volume. Each one is pretty easy. Start with the dashi, which needs a cold-extract period so it takes a bit more time in total, and then move to the chicken soup, which is also pretty low effort.
Ingredients (I definitely adjusted here based on what I had and what I wanted to do, I think the method of cold-steep to simmer is the most critical part)
2.5 L Water
120 g small niboshi
50 g deheaded large niboshi (reserve heads for aroma oil)
40 g Kombu
30 g Katsuobushi
At least 6 hours before, but up to 24 hours before, combine the water, niboshi, and kombu in a large container in the fridge. This steep is sort of like cold brew for coffee, it pulls out some flavors you might not experience with a straight cook (so the lore goes).
When ready cook, add the contents of step 1 to a large pot.
Bring the liquid to 176 degrees F, then remove the kombu from the pot
Increase the temperature to just below simmer, and hold here for 35 minutes
Add the katsuo bushi, steep for another 10 minutes.
Strain the soup, reserving as needed. This only keeps for a few days in the fridge, and does not freeze well. But it has an absurd amount of umami; the synergistic effect of the inosinate from the niboshi with the glutamate makes this ultra savory.
4 lbs chicken backs
2 lbs chicken feet
2 yellow onions, cut in half.
1 bunch of green onions (optional)
Add your chicken parts to a pressure cooker, and add just enough cold water to cover. (You might need a 10 quart pressure cooker for this)
Bring to a boil, and skim scum as this heats, stirring occasionally to make sure the scum can rise to the top
When the broth is scum free (or as scum free as you can get it), cover the pressure cooker, bring to high pressure, and cook for 35 minutes. If using a stockpot, simmer at around 4 hours, with bubbles barely breaking the surface.
Remove the pressure (either by letting it cool down or by running water over the top if using a stovetop model). Yes, this will get cloudy, that’s ok.
Add your yellow onions. With the pot uncovered, cook these for 30 minutes at just below simmer.
Add your green onions to the pot, cook for another 30 minutes. Stir and mash occasionally to really extract everything here. Again, it’ll be cloudy, this is ok. You’re going to thin it out with dashi after all.
Strain and reserve as needed.
The tare used for this recipe was absurdly easy. Normally Shichisai uses extremely high quality soy sauce, that you or I probably don’t have. Just use the best soy sauce you have, and blend accordingly.
100 g Dashi (from above)
150 g soy sauce
10 g small niboshi
20 g sugar
20 g salt (the author blended a few, I just used sea salt)
Combine the above in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil to dissolve the salt and sugar. Allow to cool, then strain.
The aroma oil here utilizes the heads from the dashi you'd normally toss, opting instead to get that residual fish flavor. I like it, gives additional complexity and layers that flavor throughout the dish. Makes the bowl feel very cohesive.
½ Cup chicken fat
Reserved niboshi heads from soup
½ onion, roughly chopped
Optional, 2 cloves of garlic, whole
Cook the above in a saucepan over low medium heat, making sure the ingredients are only sizzling slightly, until the oil is fragrant and ingredients slightly begin to brown, anywhere from 15-30 minutes. Allow to cool, then strain and reserve until needed.
Noodles are wide gauge, and typically hand cut and then pressed to form wavy irregularity. They’re also very high hydration, and to account for that, high in alkalinity. Normally Shichisai doesn't rest their noodles, so feel free to make them the same day. However, I rested them. After 3 days, they were awesome in my opinion. Process is basically the same as other iterations, but is shown below for clarity.
For one portion:
100g King Arthur bread flour
43 g water
1 g salt
1.9 g baked soda or powdered kansui (more info on baked soda here) (For me, I use 20% Potassium carbonate and 80% sodium carbonate, aka baked soda, here. But all baked soda will work quite well)
Add kansui powder and salt to the water, dissolve completely. I like to add one at a time, these alkaline salts actually release a small amount of heat when hitting the water and will form small chemical bonds to themselves if not added gradually, which results in it clumping up. Go slowly, stir constantly until clear. This will take awhile, but eventually things will work out.
In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, add your flour, Turn the mixer to “stir” and run for 30 seconds.
While running the mixer on stir, add two thirds of your water mixture slowly, in an even stream. Let the mixer stir for 3 minutes.
Add in the remaining water mixture with the mixer running, run for another minute, until small clumps begin to form.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Cover, and let this rest for 30 minutes. This gives the flour granules time to fully absorb the water and alkaline salts, rests some gluten (which, believe it or not, you developed while mixing this dough) and allows some trapped air in the dough balls to escape, which is called “degassing.” An air free starch gel results in better texture. Don’t skip this.
Knead it. The hardest part of noodles, hands down. Currently I use an electric pasta machine to sheet the dough, going through the largest setting, then the 2nd, then the 3rd. I then take the dough and fold it, sheeting under the 2nd widest setting, then fold it again and sheet it under the widest setting. I then repeat this again, until the sheet is quite smooth and not ragged. You'll notice interesting horizontal lines running along the length of your dough if you do the folding right, suggesting your gluten strands are running the length of your dough. This is good, it will help with texture of the noodle. If sheeting with a machine isn’t an option for you, I used to throw the mix into a plastic bag and step on it repeatedly.
After kneading, cover with plastic, and rest at room temp for another 30 minutes. This gives the gluten time to relax.
Pull out your dough. Portion into workable sizes, and roll out to desired thickness, using potato or cornstarch as you go to prevent sticking. Do this with a pasta machine, it is borderline impossible without a machine. An electric one will save you an incredible amount of effort.
Cut your noodles to your desired thickness. I hand cut these, sort of like you’d cut pasta, but you can also use a machine if you have a wider setting.
After cutting, mash and detangle the noodles together, sort of like packing and unpacking a snowball. This gives the noodles their irregular, wavy shape. You can do this again right before boiling for even more irregularity.
Place in the fridge and allow to rest for at least a day, but preferably at least two. In this image they had rested 5 days, and they were superb. This final resting phase ensures even hydration and helps make an even starch gel, promoting better texture. Enzymatic activity in the flour also helps build flavor, and the alkaline flavor of the dough subsides somewhat.
(toppings can be found in the next comment)
Toppings (continued from the previous post)
Shichisai uses two forms of Chashu. I felt like a glutton, so I did as well. Both are sous vide, the belly goes for 24 hours at 154F, and the tenderloin goes for an hour or two at 140. I’ve written about my sous vide belly before, but here it is again for reference:
½ cup mirin
½ cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1 tbsp brown sugar
¼ cup sake
Preheat the waterbath to 154F.
Sear the pork belly on all sides in a pan until golden brown, then place in vacuum bag.
Deglaze the pan with the remaining ingredients, then reserve this liquid and allow to cool.
When liquid has cooled, add it to the bag with the pork.
Cook the pork belly sous vide for at least 24 hours, but up to 36 hours. You do NOT have to vacuum seal this, just use the water displacement method to remove excess air, and clamp the edge of the bag to the pot or vessel you’re sous-viding in.
Remove from the bath, and shock in ice water to chill quickly. Reserve in the fridge if needed.
For the loin, I went even simpler. A quick bit of soy sauce in the bag, no sear, and at 140 F for an hour.
The egg uses my standard “equilibrium brine” technique. Can I say this is my technique? Is that hubris? IDK….
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Add your eggs from the fridge, cooking for 6 min 30 seconds at a rolling boil.
Remove the eggs from the water, immediately shock in ice water and reserve to cool completely, around 15 minutes.
Crack, and peel the eggs.
In a container you plan on soaking the eggs in, weigh your eggs. Add water to cover completely, and record the total weight of the eggs and water. (So, for instance, if I have 3 cooked and peeled eggs that weigh 150 grams, and i cover them completely with 350 grams of water, i’d have 500 grams total).
Add in 10% of this weight in soy sauce and 8% in mirin. So, if in the example above, since your eggs and water weighed 500 grams, you’d add in 50 grams soy sauce, and 40 grams mirin.
Soak in the fridge for at least 2 days, and reserve in the brine until needed.
Whew! That's it! Let me know what you guys think!
Great post, thank you for all the detail!
Looks like a fun one to try! Is this going in the recipe side bar?
If people want it, sure!
Im a people and I want all the recipes. Please and thanks!
This looks amazing. I've been cooking ramen a bunch this winter (less now in the summer).
Must try this. And thank you for all your help on my projects!
Spectacular work! Love to try it!
Mike strikes again!
The way the fat sits on the broth is beautiful. I need to find a place to get chicken fat in Australia, I'm guessing jewish delis maybe?
Probably your best bet! Though if you can get chicken skin, or save it from somewhere, you can render it yourself.
This looks fantastic and I think I'll give this a whirl this coming weekend. A couple of questions though. What is your soup to tare to oil ratio? Also what thickness setting did you find worked for the noodles? I have a 0-9 settings on my pasta machine. I was thinking a 6 would be right for this but wanted to see if it should be thicker. Finally, do you happen to have a picture of the width you cut the noodles? Sorry for all the questions but this is going to be my first time making the noodles.
A 6 is probably too thin to be honest. These noodles are normally hand rolled in shops (and definitely at shichisai) so they're pretty thick. I'd say cut them maybe half an inch to a third an inch?
In terms of ratios, I use maybe a tablespoon of oil per bowl. To that, around 350 ml of broth, and anywhere from 30 ml to 45ml of tare depending on how it tastes.
Thanks for the help! Tried it out today and it was a hit!
As an fyi I found that a 4 on my pasta rollers for the kitchen aid are a great thickness for noodles. I also like a slightly thicker noodle.
Thanks for the advice. I tried a 4 on my roller but it ended up too thick. I think I actually need something in between a 5 or 6 on my roller. I'm using a manual roller though.
You're right for these wide noodles. I also did 4 and it was too thick. Sorry about that! I will go 5 next time on these. 4 is good for thinner width noodles.
Hey Ramen_lord, could you side board this? thanks!